Just How Many Calories Will I Burn Playing Hockey For 10 Days?

Just how many calories will I burn playing hockey for 10 days?

Hockey photoThis is a question that I’ve been asked several times and I’ve been pondering the best way to figure it out. You can find an estimate for how many calories one would burn playing hockey for one hour1 (280 Calories per hour for a 50 kg person), but this estimate makes some assumptions that won’t bear out in our ten-day long hockey game. In a normal hockey game, you jump on the ice and skated hard it can for about 45 seconds or 1 minute,  and then you sit on the bench and rest while the next two lines of hockey players go out on the ice – and then repeat for an hour long game. Unfortunately, since we are only allowed 20 players per team, and players need to have brakes long enough to eat and sleep, the only way we can set up our schedule is to have just 6 skaters and the goalie playing at any one time. This means 5 people are skating around and one person is sitting on the bench (as opposed to a normal game where you have 5 and skating around and 10 people sitting on the bench waiting to replace them). So instead of getting like 2 minutes on the bench for every 1 minute on the ice, we’ll be on the ice for 4 minutes, then off for 1 minute2 – and repeat for your four hour shift – and then repeat those four hour shifts for 10 days! Clearly, we will not  be able to keep up the intensity that we would normally play with because we get so little in the way of breaks! So when there’s an estimate of how many calories you burn for one hour of hockey, it assumes a much higher intensity but a lot less time actually on the ice. Do these two things cancel each other out such that the estimate (280 Calories per hour) would be a good estimate? I have no idea. I’ve talked to 5 different dietitians, and they don’t really know either.

One suggestion that dietitian friend of mine made was to try to figure out an activity that would be similar to the intensity at which we’ll be playing–like, let’s say, rollerblading. So I checked my textbooks, which list rollarblading as 350 Calories per hour – more than the estimate for hockey! Jogging is 350 Calories as well3.

Oh yes, and I haven’t actually mentioned how much time we’ll spend on the ice each day!  Though we don’t have our final playing/break schedules yet, each player will be playing roughly a 4 hour shift, followed by an 8 hour break (though at a few points, we’ll only get a 4 hour break instead of an 8 hour break). When I added up the sample schedule, it worked out to an average of NINE HOURS OF PLAYING PER DAY! And because we only have 1 sub at any give time, we’ll each be on the ice for 4/5ths of those 9 hours (i.e., 7.2 hours of actually skating around!!!)

So, using the rollarblading estimate (350 Calories per hour x 7.2 hours of actual skating), I’ll need 2,520 Calories – in addition to the ~1,700 Calories I need in a regular day just for living – for a grand total of 4,220 Calories!

And if I use the hockey estimate (280 Calories per hour) and multiply it by 9 hours of playing time (since the hockey estimate accounts for the fact that some of the time is on the bench, we don’t need to remove the bench time as we did in the last calculation, it works out to the exact same number! 280 Calories per hour x 9 hours = 2,520 Calories.  How weird is that??

Anyway, although this is clearly just a ballpark estimate and it only accounts for the hockey playing and not any activities we’ll be doing off the ice – and we’ll need to be doing some stretching and walking to keep our muscles from completely seizing up over the 10 days – I think it’s safe to say that I can pretty much EAT ANYTHING I WANT TO since 4,220 Calories is ~2.5 times what I normally eat in a day! I honestly don’t know how I’m going to fit 4,220 Calories worth of food inside my body every day!

  1. Although I had to go to the Internet to find it because none of my textbooks included hockey in the list of activities for which energy expenditure was provided. Clearly these textbooks are not Canadian. []
  2. This, of course, assumes that everyone takes exactly 1 minute shifts and each player comes off in turn – though I don’t expect it to go exactly perfect like that, I’m sure it will all work out in the wash such that this is a reasonable estimate. []
  3. Where “jogging” is presented as running slower than 5 mph. []