Drumming Fun Exercise
Try a Drumming Session For Keeping Fit

A drumming session could be a great new way of exercising according to the Clem Burke Drumming Project. WLR’s Personal Trainer, Nicola Glanville investigates.

Try a Drumming Session for Keeping Fit

By WLR's Personal Trainer, Nicola Glanville PTI REP Level 3

A study conducted by the Universities of Gloucestershire and Chichester has concluded that drumming is an equivalent workout to playing in a Premier League football match.

Scientists behind the Clem Burke Drumming Project will work with the Department of Sport, Health and Social Care at the University of Gloucestershire to develop programs to help overweight youngsters to get fit.

Drumming Session Increases Heart Rate

This study is based on the findings that Clem Burke (the drummer from the band Blondie) and the football player sustained similar heart rates throughout a 90 minute period.  The important fact to take away from this is that individuals with differing levels of fitness can benefit equally from different intensities of activity.

For example, an unfit person may gain the same benefit from 30 minutes of walking as a fit individual would get from 30 minutes of jogging.  The fitter your body gets, the more you have to do to challenge it and to gain the benefits from exercise.

Therefore the fact that the drummer’s heart rate is the same (averaging 140-150 BPM over 90 minutes) as the footballer’s shows that his drumming is as challenging to his body as the game of football is to the footballer.  

Drummers Use Whole Body to Produce Beat

The study shows that we don’t all have to play premier league football to achieve the benefits of exercise.  Let’s have a look at drumming as an example; drumming can be good exercise if played at a vigorous intensity for a prolonged period.

Despite initial appearances, drumming isn’t just about using your arms.  If you watch a professional drummer at work you’ll see that his whole body is working to produce the beat; even his/her feet are pumping to work the foot pedals.

This type of activity requires a high level of exertion to generate continual vigorous movement, not to mention a level of accuracy and coordination that professional musicians are gifted with.  But don’t worry, there is a side of this study that can help us ‘mere mortals’ to burn calories and stay fit.

How Can Drumming be a Form of Exercise?

Playing the drums isn’t always a form of exercise for everyone.  Drumming gets results in Clem Burke’s case because:

It is a total body activity

  • He plays at a fast and furious tempo
  • He is committed to his drumming and practices it regularly for prolonged periods

Therefore, in order to get the same benefit from another activity (assuming that you are not a budding drummer) you will have to apply yourself with the same level of passion and commitment.  And the activity that you chose should involve your whole body.

Examples of activities that could fit these criteria are:

  • Walking
  • Skiing
  • Jogging
  • Racket sports
  • Ball sports
  • Rowing
  • Cycling
  • Resistance training
  • Skating

If you already do any of these and want to get more benefit from them, then the answer is for you to work harder, faster and for longer periods.  The more you put in the more that you get out.  That said, it is a good idea to schedule in at least one rest day a week to give your body a chance to rest and develop your strength.  Set yourself realistic short term and long term targets and make sure that you achieve them.

If you are not the athletic type, and can’t commit your waking life to furthering your sporting prowess, then why not convert your daily routine into one big work out.

Daily Exercise Ideas

Below are some great ways of turning mundane activities and hobbies into great workouts.

Note:  To count as exercise the activities listed below have to be done regularly even though they’re not our favorite pastimes.  Turning them into exercise not only improves your health and burns calories, it gets things done quicker so you can choose other, more pleasurable, ways of spending your increased amount of spare time.  


Whether you are grocery shopping or better still clothes shopping you are to avoid lifts and escalators at all cost.  It’s time to use your legs.  Shopping can be tiring because it is exercising your body.  It involves walking for prolonged periods carrying heavy bags. 

Top tips: Carry an even weight with both hands and use your arms to carry the bags.  Sounds silly at first I know, but if your arms are straight and your shoulders hunched, you are putting stress on your back.  Instead, try standing tall and have a small bend at your elbows.  This will ensure that your arms muscles are taking the strain and getting the benefit.

Why not walk to the shops at a brisk pace?  Or if you do have to drive, try parking further away from the shops than normal or walking an extra stop before you get on the bus.  And finally, please don’t ruin all of that hard work by going to a café for a cream cake.  Go to a smoothie bar instead or get some lunch if you are hungry.  Remember, it’s no good buying all of those lovely clothes if you can’t fit into them.  Sorry, but I’ve got to be cruel to be kind!

Wash your car

Get stuck in and wash your car/s.  Wash and polish that paintwork, scrub and shine those alloys and clear out and vacuum the interior.  Not only is it exercise, but you’ll also save yourself money.

Play with your children

There are a million good reasons to do this anyway.  Your children will thrive on your attention, gain confidence with your involvement and you get to burn calories too!  The key is to pick something that you will enjoy too.  Here are some of my favorites: acrobatics/bouncing on the kid’s trampoline, badminton, basketball, skating, cycling, football and skipping.  Go on, you know you want to.  Just try to remember what your favorite games were when you were wee and then get stuck in!

Top tip:  If you can turn it into a day out then you’ll get the most benefit; prolonged activity burns more calories and your kids are also benefitting from your time and exercise.  For example, you could walk to the park, play badminton or football, have a healthy picnic of homemade sandwiches and fruit and then after letting your food digest you’ve got that lovely walk home to reflect on your day.  Or you could walk to the local leisure centre and have a swim or hire a tennis court.  Think of it as entertaining the kids.  The alternative is to stay in and endure their squabbling for the whole day.

Dog walking

Look at him… poor pooch, when was the last time he had a good walk?  Ok enough of tugging at your heartstrings.  Walking your dog, or someone else’s for that matter, is great exercise, which coincidentally is something that you and your dog need every day.

Top tip:  Walk fast. 

Avoid the trap of standing in one spot and throwing a ball for Rover.  This only ensures that he has a healthy happy life!  Try exploring new places and walking with friends.  Dog walking can be a great social activity.

Mow the lawn

It needs doing and it burns loads of calories.  Do it properly, cut, strim and then why not weed your garden too?  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really mind what state your garden is in.  This is just another great way to increase your health, burn calories and impress your partner all in one go.

Top tip: Mow quickly to work your muscles and raise your heart rate.

Squeezing in Your Exercise

Pre-shower exercises

Before every shower: 

  • 20 press ups
  • 20 sit ups
  • 20 squats

Before you shower is the ideal time to exercise as you don’t have to worry about getting hot and sweaty.  Also it’s something that you do every day, which will encourage regular exercise.  And guess what, if you shower twice, you can complete your exercises twice too.

Jog up the stairs every time you climb them.

And just for fun, count how many times you do this is a day.  It’ll give you a sense of achievement.

Lose the remote control

I mean it – put it in a cupboard upstairs and get up off the sofa to change the channel.  I know, what a revolutionary idea!  If you store the remote somewhere out of reach, whenever you get fed up of living without it you’ll realise that in order to get it back you’ll have to go upstairs anyway… so you may as well just get up off the sofa and change the channel.

Stop Delegating

Stop tasking your children with fetching your stuff “Billy, go and fetch my hand bag from my bedroom there’s a good boy” – why not climb the stairs yourself, or even jog up them?  And if, when you get back down stairs, you realise that you have forgotten something… go back upstairs and get it yourself!  It all burns calories.

Reduce Your TV Viewing Time

Give Up the Soaps!  Shock horror.  I mean it.  My husband and I gave up watching Eastenders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale at the beginning of this year and it has improved the quality of our lives.  We were both addicts until then, which meant that we religiously spent our evenings glued to the box without actually interacting with each other.  The main problem with soaps is that they are compulsive viewing; you can’t even miss one episode for fear of missing out on a marriage break-up or murder plot. 

Once we had given up soaps we had a brief period of thumb twiddling and then we started to make use of our evenings.  Now we talk about each other’s day, cook together, walk the dog or go to the gym together in the evenings.  It has had a positive effect on the rest of my day too because I feel like I have more time overall. 

So my message to you is that we all complain about not having enough time for ourselves and yet we waste, (and I do mean waste) 3 or more hours in front of the TV every evening.  Get a life, do things that you have always meant to do but not had time for.

If/ when you do watch television, sit on a stability ball instead of slouching on the coach.  This will work your core muscles and improve your posture.

Top tip:  Whilst seated on your stability ball try balancing on one leg.  This will increase the challenge on your muscles and burn more calories. 

Exercise for Those Who Go to Work 

  • Sit on a stability ball at your desk.  Balance on one leg and alternate between legs.
  • Use the stairs, jogging and taking 2 at a time.
  • Cycle or walk to work or park further away.
  • Graze at you packed lunch through the day and use your lunch break to go for a brisk walk, a gym session or an exercise class.

When you get home go for a brisk walk with your partner to catch up on your respective days and relieve any stress.

If your active time is limited by a working schedule this is an even greater reason to turn off the TV and be active in the evenings. 

Otherwise your brain has been challenged but your body will diminish over time. 

If you can’t bring yourself to switch off the TV then why not get on your exercise bike, rower or cross trainer etc…and do your exercises in front of the TV for 30 minutes to an hour every day.  This could be your penance for continuing to watch Eastenders and Coronation Street!  

Overall Guidelines

This approach to exercise should be adopted every day of your life.  Completing the activities above for 30 minutes, 5 x per week just wont cut it.  This is about changing the way you apply yourself to everyday activities…every day!

Move as much as you can

Avoid prolonged periods on the couch.  And use as many muscles as you can whenever you get the opportunity. 

Move as fast as you can

Jog up the stairs or take 2 at a time.  Vacuum faster!  Mow quicker.  And when you’ve completed your activities in mega quick time you’ll have lots of spare time to take up a new activity just for fun. 

Plan day long activities

Try to plan an active day.  For example, you could do your house work in the morning, and set aside the afternoon to play games in the garden with the children or take the dog for a long walk.  If you have a plan, better still a written plan of action, you are less likely to slow down and slump onto the sofa with a big bag of crisps feeling lethargic and sorry for yourself.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t schedule in some time to relax, just plan how you want to relax and fit it into your day.  i.e. read your book for 30 minutes, have a soak in the bath, catch up on e-mails etc…  making some time to indulge in your favorite pastimes is really important.

Scheduling these things in as a treat, after you have completed a morning’s house work, or after a long busy day once the kids are in bed, is so much more satisfying than just indFulging all day and avoiding your responsibilities.  I promise that you’ll feel a whole lot more positive if you take control of your day.  

Use as many muscles as possible

You will burn more calories if you use your whole body for an activity.  This doesn’t necessarily mean doing star jumps, just complete tasks standing rather than sitting, or maybe on one leg as opposed to two.

Challenge yourself on the underground or bus by trying to stand on one leg as the movement of the train tries to tip you over.   This works the stabilising muscles in your legs and core.

Increase the intensity

As the activities that you do get easier you will need to ‘up the ante’ in order to keep gaining the same benefits.  For example, just completing the activities listed in this article may not be challenging enough for you.

Try timing yourself and completing everything at a quicker pace.  If shopping itself really isn’t a challenge then you should walk to the shops and back again at a brisk pace.  If you’re still not out of puff, then it’s up to you to acknowledge that you have now graduated to the next level; it’s time for the addition of a more traditional variation of exercise.  I say addition because it is still very important to keep moving as much as possible throughout your day.

So keep up your ‘speed vacuuming’ and ‘rapid lawn mowing’ and add in 30 minutes to one hour of cycling, power walking or jogging.  These forms of exercise can be done at the gym, outside or on your exercise equipment.  Short on time to fit this in?  Drag your exercise bike in front of the TV and combine your work out with watching the Olympic Games to really get you in the mood…ok, ok or Eastenders if you must.

Bottom line:  You don’t have to run a marathon to lose weight, decrease your chances of heart disease, improve circulation and digestion and enhance your mood.  Find your own level.  If your activity is a physical challenge for your body then it is a form of exercise.  You’ll know if it is the right level for you because you’ll get hot and sweaty and your breathing will get faster.

Activity Approx calories burned per 30 minutes  

Sitting on the sofa

28 calories


Sitting on the sofa

35 calories



74 calories

Normal tempo


82 calories

Normal tempo

Car washing+

98 calories

Normal tempo


108 calories


Vigorous walking+

156 calories

Vigorous tempo


156 calories


Mowing the Lawn+

172 calories

Normal tempo


236 calories

Moderate tempo

+ Weight Loss Resources database of calories burned

*Harris & Benedict Formula (Calories/Day) based on a 40yr old female: weight - 9st 7lb, height - 5’5”, BMR of 1350.

** Harris & Benedict Formula (Calories/Day) based on a 40yr old male: weight - 11st 7lb, height - 5’10”, BMR of 1691

The table above is a guide to show you approximately how many calories you can burn by taking part in each activity.  You can increase the number of calories that you burn by increasing the tempo.  GO FASTER

As a general rule, if you were to swap 1 hr of TV (56 calories) with 1 hr on your exercise bike (312 calories) you’ll burn an additional 256 calories.  And can you afford not to mow the lawn?  It burns a whopping 172 calories in 30 minutes!  If you burn 500 calories per day (in addition to your usual activity levels) you will lose 1lb per week. 

534 calories =

  • 30 minutes trampolining
  • 30 minutes mowing the lawn
  • 30 minutes dusting
  • 30 minutes vacuuming
  • 30 minutes washing your car

Remember, if you are eating healthily too you will lose even more weight.  Right I’m off to perform some rapid vacuuming. 

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