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Black Friday shopping offers a great calorie burn

BOOSTER SHOTS: Oddities, musings and news from the
health world

November 25, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Toting bags while shopping can burn some extra calories, but make sure you're loaded equally on both arms.
Toting bags while shopping can burn some extra calories, but make sure you're… (Chris Keane / Reuters )

If shopping is a sport, does that mean you can burn serious calories doing it? Yes, and that's good news to all you Black Friday and weekend shoppers hitting the stores.

An average 150-pound person can burn about 470 to 500 calories in three hours shopping -- not too shabby and no doubt needed after yesterday's turkey, stuffing and pie, which, for some, totaled thousands of calories.

But you augment that by thinking of your shopping expedition as a workout sans gym. We spoke with Studio City-based personal trainer Robert Reames of Gold's Gym Fitness Institute about how to maximize those hours in the mall.

"People should think of shopping as a hike," he said, which, for those who haven't hiked before, is a mixture of endurance and sprint activities.

"If you're shopping with a friend, you can do interval walking races, and the person who loses has to buy lunch."

For more interval training, take the stairs whenever possible, or use the escalators as stairs (if they're not too packed).

Carrying packages can mean a little extra calorie burn, but try to achieve a balance -- don't load all your bags up in one hand, especially if that side is also carrying a heavy handbag. "You can tweak your shoulder if you're only loading on one side," Reames said. "If you do have a lot of bags, make a conscious effort to keep them even on both sides."

If you're in a store selling exercise equipment, try some out. "Take one of the treadmills for a spin," Reames said. You might even find one you like.

Lifting some big-ticket items? Make sure you do it with good form. "Center yourself toward whatever you're picking up and incorporate your legs," Reames said. "Try to avoid doing a twisting lift," since this can result in a pulled muscle. Keep this in mind even when digging for sweaters in a sale bin: "Tweaking your back can happen at any time, so always be conscious of using your legs."

While waiting on line, try a few basic squats: Starting with feet shoulder-width apart, bend legs into a sitting position, but don't let your rear end drop below your knees. Keep the back in a neutral position as you go back into a standing position. "You can get a little extra calorie burn with those," Reames said, and you may inspire others to do the same.

Good nutrition is important for an all-day shopping event, he added. Eat a combination of complex carbs and protein before you head out (scrambled eggs with vegetables, whole wheat toast) so you won't be tempted by pretzels or cookies that spike your blood sugar and offer little in the way of nutrients and fiber. Pack nutritious snacks such as vegetables and quinoa that supply the energy you'll need.

For those cyber shopping who would still like to shake off yesterday's food coma, Gold's Gyms are open and free today for Trim the Fat Friday.

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