Burn Calories While Racking Up Karma Points
Serve a Hot Meal to Someone Who Needs It
Nearly 49 million people in this country go hungry, says the nonprofit organization Feeding America. That's 1 in 6 of the U.S. population—including more than 1 in 5 children. Check the Feeding America web site for food banks in your area, or search online for your city name plus "soup kitchen."
Calories burned: 537 for a three-hour shift of serving food and setting tables (more if you're lifting boxes or cans).
Muscles worked: Forearms (carrying dishes); legs (walking around tables).
Karmic bonus: The more people who get something to eat, the merrier everyone feels.
Calories burned: A whopping 1,720 for a full day of carpentry, installing rain gutters or building fences. 1,432 for a day of painting and weather-stripping.
Muscles worked: Shoulders (be sure to switch arms while painting); back and quads (carrying bags, bricks and wooden beams); heart (walking around the site). Make sure you can squat easily, lift a brick in both hands and carry them for two laps around your house.
Karmic bonus: A shelter becomes a home.
Calories burned: 210 for an hour of shopping and 15 minutes of putting groceries away (you'll burn 89 more calories if you carry the bags upstairs).
Muscles worked: Quads, calves, biceps, shoulders (lifting, carrying, reaching up to shelves and cabinets, walking and climbing stairs). To maximize the burn, take multiple trips from the car or up the stairs, carrying lighter bags but moving at a faster speed.
Karmic bonus: Someone's world feels a little cozier.
Calories burned: 107 for one hour of light arts and crafts. Standing while crafting burns more energy, and some believe that it helps get the creative juices flowing.
Muscles worked: Fingers, forearms—and your brain.
Karmic bonus: The kids learn how to tap into their inner Yoko Ono.
Calories burned: 143 for a half-hour of playing and walking with animals, 30 for feeding them for 10 minutes.
Muscles worked: Biceps, shoulders (hurling sticks and balls); wrists (holding a taut leash); legs (keeping up with a pup); quads (squatting for kisses).
Karmic bonus: A puppy gets a fairy godmother.
Calories burned: 572 for two hours of general gardening; 716 for the same amount of time of strenuous work like digging, spading, spreading mulch or composting.
Muscles worked: Legs, arms, shoulders and abs (lifting bags of mulch and pushing wheelbarrows are similar to weight training); back and core (reaching to prune tall branches).
Karmic bonus: A greener environment.
Calories burned: 251 for an hour of packing boxes, folding and stacking clothes.
Muscles worked: Legs (you'll be standing all day); arms, shoulders and back (hefting trash bags of cast-offs).
Karmic bonus: Your and your friends' stuff gets a second life.
Calories burned: 200 for an hour of standing or playing with kids. To make your meet-ups more varied, consider combining activities: make kites and then fly them outside; walk to the ballpark instead of driving; prepare a healthy feast using fresh veggies and fruit.
Muscles worked: Sky's the limit.
Karmic bonus: Your mentee gets a fresh, unbiased take and encouragement on her academic interests and career aspirations.
Next: The busy person's guide to volunteering