Does Playing Trumpet Burn Calories ?

As a guy who is a frequent gym visitor as well as doing a bit of jogging I am very familiar with heart rate monitors and tracking calories. Now I started wondering “Does playing trumpet burn calories?” and decided to test it out…

Playing the trumpet burns calories. Just as with any other activity, the amount depends on the intensity. After testing this I found that a tough and intense practice session with my trumpet is equivalent of a fast walk or mowing the lawn. Keep reading for more detailed info…

Does Playing The Trumpet Burn Calories?

We all know that playing the trumpet can sometimes be pretty  strenuous so it must be burning calories, right? Well, everything we do burn calories so naturally trumpet playing is going to do that as well, but how many calories does trumpet playing burn? Could we even swap a few exercise sessions for playing the trumpet?

Ok, so I strapped my heart rate monitor on and started testing…

…this is what I found out:

30 minutes of trumpet playing

  Number of calories burned and average heart rate (BPM)

30 minutes Sitting Standing BPM
Normal practice intensity 192 kcal 219 kcal 89-95
Intense practice session 235 kcal 273 kcal 101-107

Now, we all know that a bigger person burns more calories than a smaller person so in order to give this info any value I need to note down my body measurements if you want to use it as a reference.

  • Sex: Male
  • Age: 42 years
  • Weight: 87 kg  / 191,8 pound

Obviously the number of calories burned during a trumpet practice session is going to vary from person to person, but you could use my numbers as a rough guideline.

Standing vs Sitting

I tested my trumpet playing both standing and sitting down. I also tested during an intense practice session vs a normal practice session. As you can see the number of calories burned when I’m standing and playing the trumpet is a bit higher than when I’m sitting…

…no surprise there, really.

The intensity

I also tested how many calories trumpet playing burns during what I consider to be a “normal” practice session vs “intense” practice session. Here I have to note that my intense session were really hard, with few rests and most of the playing done in the middle to high register.

Let’s compare the results to other activities

So let’s take my standing trumpet practice session, with the intense 30 minutes, and compare that to other activities to get a clearer picture.

In order to make it as accurate as possible I searched for data from people in the same weight class as my self and here are the activities…

30 minutes of very intense trumpet playing, while standing = 273 kcal

Calories burned in 30-minute activities

  • Weight Lifting, easy:   139 kcal
  • Weight Lifting, intense: 276 kcal
  • Aerobics: low impact:  253 kcal
  • Stretching or Hatha Yoga: 185 kcal
  • Dancing: slow, waltz, foxtrot: 138 kcal
  • Golf: using cart: 161 kcal
  • Aerobics: high impact:  323 kcal
  • Rowing, Stationary intense:  392 kcal
  • Bicycling, Stationary, intense: 484 kcal
  • Bowling: 134 kcal
  • Walking: 3.5 mph (17 min/mi): 185 kcal
  • Walking: 4 mph (15 min/mi) 208 kcal
  • Wrestling: 276 kcal
  • Tennis: general: 323 kcal
  • Running: 5.2 mph (11.5 min/mile):  412 kcal
  • Swimming, intense: 461 kcal 
  • Slowly mowing lawn with pushing power 208 kcal

Now, of course there are many different factors coming into play here but it is still pretty interesting to look at these and compare my 30 minute trumpet practice with 273 calories burned

Time out here..not so fast!

Before you get all excited and start thinking “wohooo 273 calories, I can just practice away my bad diet” I want to be a bit of a party pooper here and say…

…no…definitely not!

  • First

You can not exercise your way out of a bad diet even with normal, intense, training like a combination of running and gym training several times a week. In the long run it is impossible and that should not be your ambition.

  • Second

I did the test with two different intensities and the more intense practice session was too intense to be able to do every day. It’s not good for the chops to do it often. It was just an experiment and not an optimal practice session for trumpet.

  • Third

Even the intense trumpet session did not burn enough calories to come anywhere near what jogging or other intense cardio activities burn. So no, thinking that you could somehow substitute physical exercise with trumpet playing alone and, on top of that, eat a lot of junk food…

…no, it’s just not going to work…

…I’m sorry to say!

Don’t forget that we are always burning calories even if we are sleeping

You see, even if we are doing NOTHING we still burn calories. This is called our metabolic rate. During 30 minutes of sitting down, and doing nothing at all, I still burn about 70-80 calories…

…so I have to subtract that from my 273,  leaving my trumpet practice session with a net burning of 193 kcal for 30 minutes of really intense practicing. Suddenly it does not sound that much at all.

So while playing the trumpet indeed burns a few calories, don’t forget that when you take your coffee break and enjoy that big donut you are getting up to 300 calories right there.

Can we substitute physical exercise with trumpet playing?

Well, let’s take a look at it.

Keep in mind that my practice session with 273 calories burned was done in a intens manner. It would not be constructive to make all of our practice sessions that hard. It might even burn out our chops in the long run so we can’t really use the 273 calorie option…

…let’s go with the “Normal practice intensity” session where i was standing, which burned 219 calories during 30 minutes.

Playing the trumpet is indeed a form of physical exercise

If we take a look and compare those 219 calories to other activities we can see that the the energy spent is pretty close to taking a 30 minute walk or mowing the lawn.

This means that playing the trumpet sure can bee a form of exercise. A very mild form of exercise but physical exercise nevertheless. That said I would not recommend you stop jogging or going to the gym just becasue of this. So no, don’t because physical exercise with trumpet playing…

…do both!

Trumpet playing does not even come close to vigorous exercise even if playing very intense practice sessions and we need some more vigorous exercise for our general health as well. Not to mention, vigorous exercise will also improve your trumpet playing

On the contrary, we should do physical exercise to improve our trumpet playing

I would never skip physical exercise just because I play the trumpet. I have exercised on and off during most of my adult life and I this I can say with 100% certainty…

…regular physical exercise will significantly benefit your trumpet playing!

As I also have gone long periods without doing any exercise at all I have noticed the differences first hand, so many times. There is just no denying that fact.

What I personally notice in my trumpet playing when I exercise:
  • I am able to practice and play for longer periods of time (better endurance)
  • My breathing works much better
  • I am able to concentrate better
  • I enjoy music and trumpet playing more

Final words about trumpet playing and burning calories

Well, I think we can at least concluded that trumpet playing does indeed burn calories even though it is perhaps not as much as you maybe wanted to hear…

…just a quick reminder though that the numbers in this post are to be taken with a grain of salt as there are just so many factors that come into play. Just one example is “how efficiently” do we play the trumpet? One trumpet player might use way more energy to play his trumpet than another trumpeter does and so on…

Bottom line

All in all I think it is great that trumpet playing indeed burns calories and yes, in some ways it can be viewed as physical exercise as well. I somehow like the idea that we have to use all our senses and also a lot of our body to play the trumpet…

…this means we are investing a lot in our trumpet playing and, by doing so, we are also getting a lot out of it. Playing the trumpet is indeed something that will enhance our lives mentally, spiritually, physically and everything else in between.

Thank you for reading the article “does playing trumpet burn calories”

As always, keep practicing!

-Robert Slotte-

P.S. While we are on the subject of trumpet playing and how it affetcs our bodies, perhaps you also would be interested in reading my article
Is playing trumpet good for my asthma?


Leave a Comment