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Should Santa Claus Walk?

How Many Calories Would Santa Claus Burn Walking?

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Updated March 10, 2012

Santa Claus Christmas Lights

Santa in Lights

Wendy Bumgardner ©
Is Santa Claus an unhealthy role model for children? He is overweight, eats cookies, and uses a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer rather than getting around walking or biking. Should Santa change to walking for transport and eat healthier throughout Christmas Eve?

How Many Calories Would Santa Claus Burn Walking?

Santa certainly gets a workout just getting in and out of the sleigh to visit an estimated 92 million households in a single night. Richard Waller once calculated that if all of the households were evenly distributed across the earth, Santa would have to travel 0.78 miles between each house, or 71,760,000 (71.8 million) miles.

Let's plug that into the Walking Calorie Calculator and estimate that Santa Claus weighs 250 pounds and is walking pretty fast (in order to get his deliveries done in one night.).

Answer: 13 billion calories.

Is Santa Burning Off All Those Cookies?

If Santa Claus eats two small cookies and a cup of skim milk, that is about 200 calories.

If he snacks at each of the 92 million households, that is 18.4 billion calories.

Santa would gain 1,529,350 pounds (1.5 million) each Christmas Eve -- even if he walked.

Santa would have to circle the Earth 1,183 times walking to wear off the extra calories. That would keep him busy until next Christmas Eve.

Should Santa Snack on Veggies Instead?

According to our Holiday Calorie Calculator, if Santa had a cup of carrot and celery sticks at each household instead of cookies and milk, he would only consume 50 calories at each house and would only be eating 4.6 billion calories. Because he is burning off 13 billion calories by walking, he would actually lose all of his weight and disappear. A combination of veggies at most households and cookies or skim milk every few households would keep him in energy balance.

What Should Santa Do?

If Santa wants to continue his sleigh-transport lifestyle, then he should consider switching to veggies, with a cookie every now and then. We suspect this is what he is doing anyway -- leaving the cookies and milk with a note for Mom and Dad to enjoy them so he can maintain his plump but not enormous figure.

What Should You Do?

Holidays are a time to enjoy being with family and friends and enjoying favorite foods. Don't deprive yourself, but fully enjoy what you eat and try to eat just enough to satisfy yourself without stuffing yourself. Balance holiday treats with extra walking to enjoy the Christmas lights, or get on the treadmill and workout to holiday music.

Come the day after Christmas, use our free Walk of Life 10-Week Program to get off to a great start in the new year.

More Health Recommendations for Santa

Is Santa at Risk for Lung Cancer?
How Can Santa Prevent COPD?

Sources:

Waller, Richard. "Is There A Santa Claus?" SPY, January, 1990

Grills, N; Halyday, B. "Santa Claus: a public health pariah?" BMJ 2009;339:b5261, doi: 10.1136/bmj.b5261 (Published 16 December 2009)

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