Driving in America has become a national pastime. The U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey found that Americans spend more time driving to work (about 100 hours a year) than they do on vacation (about 80 hours), and 2 out of 10 people polled in an AP-AOL autos poll said they have a name for their car. The good news for those trying to lose weight is that driving also burns calories.
Health.gov explains that a calorie is a scientific way to measure energy. People burn calories when expending energy, and calories are used to power every function of the body, from respiration to digestion. It takes 3,500 calories over and above what the body uses to gain a pound. Conversely, the body must burn an additional 3,500 over and above what is taken in to lose a pound.
Calories are burned at different rates depending on the weight of the individual. The heavier the individual, the more calories are burned during different activities. A 120-lb. person burns fewer calories than a person weighing 200 lbs. because it requires more energy to move 200 lbs. a given distance than it does to move 120 lbs.
Driving requires energy. Moving the wheel, using your feet to operate the pedals and turning your head all require calories to power the body. According to CalorieLab.com, on average, a person weighing 150 lbs. will burn about 68 calories an hour driving. A person who weighs 120 lbs. will burn about only 55 calories an hour driving, while a person weighing 220 lbs. will burn about 100.
Calories burned per hour goes up with certain types of cars and certain types of driving. A 150-lb. person driving a bus, heavy truck or tractor burns about 136 calories an hour, and that same person driving a race car burns about 340 calories an hour. Driving a truck, including loading and unloading, will burn about 374 calories an hour, about the same amount in a Whopper Jr. from Burger King.
Unfortunately, truck driving does not lend itself to weight loss. While the number of calories required to drive a truck is higher than those required to drive a car, a study by the Centers for Disease Control shows that 73 percent of truck drivers are overweight and more than 50 percent are obese. This could be because driving long distances can be boring and eating breaks up the monotony. For instance, a Pew Research poll showed that 41 percent of car drivers had eaten a meal while driving in the last year.