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Topic: Calories burnt?  (Read 7022 times)

Offline sklebil

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Calories burnt?
on: July 11, 2005, 09:27:56 AM
Hi, I started to learn Rach's Alla marcia 23-5 prelude and after the first few bars started to wonder how many calories does one burn if one manages to actually play the whole piece? Maybe I don't need to go jogging anymore?
I never manage to eat a whole pizza. Sigh.

Offline Rach3

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #1 on: July 11, 2005, 10:05:03 AM
Very, very few. If you think practicing Rachmaninoff is athletic, you need to examine your technique and figure out why it's strenous for you - it's not the composer's fault. The same would equally apply to most virtuosic pieces.

-Rach3
"Never look at the trombones, it only encourages them."
--Richard Wagner

Offline sklebil

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #2 on: July 11, 2005, 11:26:47 AM
I am not saying that it's anybody's fault that you inevitably burn calories when you play the piano, as you do when you do anything else, including just SURVIVING and not really DOING anything. I am just wondering how does the energy output when playing the piano compare to other activities, say just reading, or watching TV, or juggling, or whatever...?
I never manage to eat a whole pizza. Sigh.

Offline sklebil

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #3 on: July 11, 2005, 11:35:11 AM
Actually, have look here https://www.fhma.com/calories.htm. If you play the piano, you burn about 160% of the calories you would burn playing cards for the same time, and you burn almost the same amount (~90%) as if you were surfing! And you burn 120% of the amount you would have burnt washing the dishes....and...and .... Of course these are some average values coming from I-don't-know-where, but still...interesting.
I never manage to eat a whole pizza. Sigh.

Offline xvimbi

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Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #5 on: July 11, 2005, 02:53:11 PM
Actually, have look here https://www.fhma.com/calories.htm. If you play the piano, you burn about 160% of the calories you would burn playing cards for the same time, and you burn almost the same amount (~90%) as if you were surfing! And you burn 120% of the amount you would have burnt washing the dishes....and...and .... Of course these are some average values coming from I-don't-know-where, but still...interesting.

I don't buy into the surfing thing. surfing burns alot of calories.

Offline barbosa-piano

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #6 on: July 11, 2005, 07:51:06 PM
Hi, I started to learn Rach's Alla marcia 23-5 prelude and after the first few bars started to wonder how many calories does one burn if one manages to actually play the whole piece? Maybe I don't need to go jogging anymore?

Hey, I practice that piece so many times a day, that if it burned a significant amount of calories, I would be very thin by now! The only weird thing, my arms feel stronger after I practice this piece or Chopin's or Liszt's Etudes for too long.  ;)
This Prelude is one of my favorite pieces by Rachmaninoff.
"Time may change the technique of music, but it will not affect its fundamental mission" Rachmaninoff             (Former Barbosa-piano)

Offline thalberg

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #7 on: July 12, 2005, 12:15:36 AM
I'm a very passionate pianist and I burn lots of calories practicing the piano.  But it's of no use-- I get up every twenty minutes and eat a bowl of ice cream.

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #8 on: July 12, 2005, 04:24:31 AM
not a good idea if you want the skinny tummy

Offline jeremyjchilds

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #9 on: July 12, 2005, 04:50:47 AM
I don't think I burn any calories. I get so relaxed I almost fall asleep. (I found the perfect chair for practicing-it has a back, but still puts me in a great position) I was never able to practice for more than two hours (in a day) before, on my bench, but now I can go for way way more.

I think when i practice sight, though, I really burn calories cause I get so mad.
"He who answers without listening...that is his folly and his shame"    (A very wise person)

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #10 on: July 12, 2005, 04:53:17 AM
yeah sight-reading is so frustrating. My blood really starts to pump then.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #11 on: July 12, 2005, 11:20:10 AM
This question has come up a few times, and usually misconceptions abound.

Perhaps the most important one is that calories do not matter all that much. Consider this simple fact:

1 handful of peanuts = 500 kcal.
1 hour jogging  = 300 kcal.

Most people are shocked when they realise how little calories one burns when exercising. (which should not discourage people from exercising – it should just show how misguided the “calorie” approach is).

In fact the average 2500 kcal a day the average Joe burns on a day are mostly used to keep one’s warm. Sit down in front of the TV all day long and you will burn 2000 calories (a bit more if you press the remote). If you want to burn calories, have cold showers in winter and wear no coats. In summer do the opposite. Your body will spend far more calories trying to balance your internal heat than you ever thought possible.

Calories are completely the wrong way to go about this. Let us say that you use 50 kcal in one hour of piano practice. Does that mean that six hours of piano practice equals one hour of jogging? Only in terms of calories. In terms of effects they are just not comparable.

First, jogging is an aerobic exercise: As you run your heart beat will go up, and without going into too much detail (which can be provided if there is interest), it is not unusual for joggers to run to a pace that keeps their heart rate at 135 – 145 bpm.

Now get a heart monitor (any sports shop will have one), strap yourself and play your most athletic virtuoso piece for as long you wish. If you have an average 60 bpm heart rate in rest, I doubt it will raise over 70 bpm (if it does, you better se a doctor). If you have the usual runner 40 – 45 bpm, you will barely get over 55 bpm. So how can you compare piano playing to jogging? You cannot.

Jogging mostly use your legs. In piano playing you do use the pedal, so I guess there is some leg usage. Can they be compared? Surely not.

This takes care of the aerobic aspect. What about the anaerobic exercises such as weight lifting? Again, most everyday activities require far more muscle strength (and that includes pressing the buttons of the remotes – they are surprisingly hard to press! And if like me you hop channels constantly, this can significantly increase your forearm and hand muscle strength). This means that when you play the piano you will be typically requiring far less strength from your muscles that you do when you go about your everyday business. So not a good anaerobic/strength exercise either.

We could go on to flexibility and the same would be true. Piano  playing requires far less flexibility than everyday chores. So you will not develop it from playing piano and you will not require it to play the piano.

So what is it that piano playing develops (if anything)? It develops and requires to an inordinate degree – arguably more than any other activity in the universe – motor co-ordination and mental qualities (such as focus, concentration, memory, pitch recognition, etc.) As such it is an integrativeactivity par excellence, which other co-ordination and integrative activities (like jogging and skipping rope) do not come even closer.

This of course is the summary of the summary.

One last word: Although it is relatively easy and straightforward to determine the amount of calories in food (you just burn it), it is next to impossible to determine how many calories one spends in any specific physical (or mental) activity. So all the figures you find (and it is a very instructive exercise to google such – you will be amazed at the variation) are tentative, best guesses. But piano playing is right there together with pressing buttons on the remote.

If the subject interests you, I suggest you read:

Edward Jackowski - “Hold it! You are exercising wrong” (Simon&Schuster) which dispels many of the myths regarding exercise.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #12 on: July 12, 2005, 02:44:30 PM
great post.

I had a friend who played the Military polonaise for a recital once By the time he was finished he heart was nearly pounding out of his chest. I think his had to do with nerves.

boliver

Offline bernhard

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #13 on: July 12, 2005, 03:05:18 PM
great post.

I had a friend who played the Military polonaise for a recital once By the time he was finished he heart was nearly pounding out of his chest. I think his had to do with nerves.

boliver

Also, to be considered aerobic, it is not enough to raise your heart rate to 135 - 145bpm. It must stay there for 12 minutes. Only after that is the exercise considered aerobic. So if you went jogging for 20 minutes, you only did 8 minutes of aerobic exercise. So nerves don't really count. (Otherwise watching a scary enough movie would do).

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #14 on: July 12, 2005, 03:09:19 PM
it was probably more of an aerobic exercise for me, due to the ensuing laughter that erupted from my mouth for quite some time.

LOL

Offline anda

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #15 on: July 12, 2005, 05:01:04 PM
If you play the piano, you burn (...) 120% of the amount you would have burnt washing the dishes

i'll keep that in mind :)

no, seriously, i noticed i always loose ~2kg over the last week before an important performance... to bad i don't get more important contracts! :)

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #16 on: July 12, 2005, 05:03:42 PM
i'll keep that in mind :)

no, seriously, i noticed i always loose ~2kg over the last week before an important performance... to bad i don't get more important contracts! :)

is that do to nerves and not eating though?

Offline anda

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #17 on: July 12, 2005, 05:05:03 PM
is that do to nerves and not eating though?

i eat normally, i just practice waaaaay more than usually!

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #18 on: July 12, 2005, 05:08:48 PM
probably mental strain causes the caloric burn also. Interesting way of losing weight though.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #19 on: July 13, 2005, 01:01:35 AM
i'll keep that in mind :)

no, seriously, i noticed i always loose ~2kg over the last week before an important performance... to bad i don't get more important contracts! :)

Adrenalin can be quite effective... ;)
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline pianote

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #20 on: July 14, 2005, 12:08:52 AM
no way... surfing is definitely more physically demanding then playing the piano.

Offline dinosaurtales

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #21 on: July 14, 2005, 02:44:37 AM
Gee.  No one is mentioning the big huge ankle muscles I am developing working on the pedaling in the g minor ballade!   ;D
So much music, so little time........

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #22 on: July 14, 2005, 02:33:39 PM
bulging ankles? maybe you can become an ankle model.

Offline c18cont

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #23 on: July 16, 2005, 07:28:03 PM
I once saw a figure for the cals in difficult mathematics for long periods, and other mental tasks as well...and the cal count, while low, was none the less, more than I would have thought...as I recall..(but can't begin to recall the numbers...low two dig. values, I believe...)

Anyone seen that type of material?

John

Offline pianowelsh

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #24 on: July 18, 2005, 11:21:34 AM
Hey Thalberg  I like your style - but you must go through a LOT of icecream!  I hear what people are saying and i think  a lot has to do with the way people handle pressure some people who are naturally tense and nervous have exaggerated symptoms when they perform and release lots of nervous energy and burn lots more calories. Interesting what was said about keeping your heart rate up for over 12 mins because i think many pianists could fit this category playing a 45 min + recital - particularly with new repertory which i think is an influencing factor. I think it could play a part when learning a lot of new pieces too as the mechanism is not at tha stage well oilled. There is a lot of trial and error phsyically - i am thinking particularly of pieces like Rachmaninov which move around the keyboard alot - chords and jumps have to be found and automated which uses alot of quick twitch muscular control. There is also a huge amount of mental control and effort going on Reading, listening, evaluating, storing mental data etc which is bound to burn calories albeit on probably a relatively small scale.
summary: I think there are probably many more effective forms of excersize than sightreading and piece learning or even giving high profile concerts on minimal rehearsal but im quite sure that in some people the effects of these pressure situations can and does create visible and tangible effects.

Offline sklebil

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Re: Calories burnt?
Reply #25 on: July 18, 2005, 05:24:27 PM
Now I see the point. Who is actually getting a lot  of aerobic exercise while I play the piano is everybody within the reach of my sound-waves: First of all, they run away very fast (euphemism for that is jogging) so they get a healthy dose of aerobic exercise, and before they manage to get far away, I scare them so  much (my teacher used to say my technique was appalling) that it definitely gets their heartbeat well over 145bpm. On top of it, they have a bit of muscle training when they get back and try to remove me from my pianobench and throw out of the window. Maybe I could get a position as a marathon runner coach.
I never manage to eat a whole pizza. Sigh.
 

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