How Many Calories Do You Burn Moving Boxes?

How Many Calories Does Moving Boxes Burn

It is pretty obvious to most that moving and lifting boxes is quite a workout. Most moving boxes weigh between 20 and 50 pounds and that’s only the boxes. Dependent on your lifestyle, you may own a lot of other heavy furniture and belongings.

While it may not be part of your weekly routine, moving is without a doubt a great workout. Not only can we classify it as strength training, but it can also count as cardio and endurance training.

So, while packing and moving might not be the most fun, I always think, “at least I’m burning calories.” You certainly do burn calories, but how many exactly?

We will deep dive into moving and the challenges on our bodies. Note that moving boxes and furniture are categorized as strenuous activities. If you are unsure about your abilities or health with this kind of activity, consult with your doctor or ask for help.

Table of Contents

How Many Calories Will I Burn Moving?

Burning Calories
Not a recommended method of ‘burning calories’.

All the numbers described below are estimates based on a 160-pound person. Additionally, they are estimating your efforts without breaks. Always take as many breaks as you need. Moving is a marathon and, if planned properly, does not need to be a tight schedule where you could risk injury.

Packing Boxes

While packing boxes may seem like a moderate task, you will burn a decent number of calories packing them up. In a one-hour packing session, we estimate you will burn around 200 calories. You will probably disperse your packing over days or weeks. Use packing to add a little extra to your workout routine.

Moving Boxes

A 2500-square-foot house will need between 70 and 160 boxes. If you are starting from a completely unpacked house, you will probably be able to pack 4 to 6 boxes per hour and load them into the truck.

If you use no professional help in your move, you will pack for approximately 15 hours from start to finish. The average calorie burn per hour while moving is 250 calories. With that math, you will burn around 3,750 calories completing your move.

That being said, these numbers are only for the packing of the boxes and truck. Plan to double this calorie burn on the unpacking side.

With all this calorie burn, you will need to make sure you are drinking enough water and eating enough to keep up your energy. Most people move in the summer and the heat is definitely a factor in this calorie burn. Adjust accordingly and take as many breaks as you feel necessary.

Moving Furniture

Thanks to the higher weight of most furniture, the calorie burn for moving it is even higher than boxes. Moving furniture is a whole-body workout putting strain on your arms, back, legs, and core.

A 160-pound person will burn close to 400 calories per hour moving furniture. That is a lot of calories! Likely, your moving day will combine all three exercises from packing the boxes, to packing boxes onto the truck, to packing furniture.

Proper lifting is an important thing to note here. Use proper lifting techniques to protect yourself from injury. Always bend your knees to lift with your legs. This takes a significant strain off your back.

Another technique that people often forget is to avoid twisting when lifting heavy objects. Twisting your back while lifting is a perfect combination for injury.

How Many Steps Will I Get?

In addition to burning calories, many of us like to track our steps on a smartwatch or our phone. Moving day will not disappoint.

Without a doubt, even if you are only carrying the small boxes, you will get your steps in while packing. Expect to be on your feet all day. There are many steps from cabinet to box, from room to room, and from box to truck.

I’ve hit over 20,000 steps on moving day and that was even with trying to do everything possible to reduce the number of steps I needed to take. (For ex. Pre-loading boxes in the garage where the POD was getting placed next to)

Does Stairs Burn More Calories?

Interior Stairs of House

Approximately 50% of homes in the United States have interior stairs. It is difficult to say how many homes have exterior stairs to enter the home. There is a pretty high chance you will face stairs at one or both of your locations.

Stairs are an excellent choice for exercise. In fact, most gyms still offer stair climber machines because they are such a good workout. Climbing up and down stairs gets your heart pumping and engages your leg muscles. When it comes to moving your house, you will not be traveling these stairs empty-handed either, adding to the exercise benefits!

For a person weighing 160 pounds, experts estimate the average calorie burn to be 5 calories per flight of stairs. While you may not want to count how many times you climb and descend the stairs while moving, it is safe to say you will easily burn 100 to 200 calories extra.

What if I do not want this kind of workout?

Thankfully, if lifting heavy objects or spending 10 hours loading a moving truck is not your thing, there are professionals out there to do it for you. Professional moving companies are located all over the country and will do many variations of packing for you.

You can have professional packers do any combination:

– Pack up your belongings into boxes

– Pack the boxes into the moving truck

– Deliver your belongings to your new home

– Unpack the boxes from the moving truck

– Unpack your belongings from the boxes

These services come with a price tag. However, sometimes it is just a necessity if you cannot do the “heavy lifting”.

Final Thoughts

Moving is an excellent workout if you are physically capable of doing it. Moving is also very time-consuming and so you may be skipping your gym sessions in preparation. If you are skipping the gym to pack, do not fret! Not only is packing a great strength exercise, but you will get a good cardio workout as well.

Plan for this deep calorie burn accordingly. You may forget to eat with your busy moving schedule, but it needs to keep you ready to go. If you cannot pack your belongings and/or boxes, enlist professional help. There is no reason to risk your health to save a little money. Always consult with your doctor if you have any concerns or questions about the strain of packing.


I've been a college coach for going on 20 years now and that career has led Jen and I on quite the journey. We've lived in 7 different states and have moved a dozen different times. We've learned A LOT over the course of all those moves and we want to pass on our knowledge to help others going through the moving process.

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