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From the "any exercise is better than no exercise" perspective, I'd imagine that playing drums at high tempo would be considered effective - it certainly can work up a sweat and obviously must burn more calories than just sitting on the couch, but it's hard to say how effective it actually is without hard numbers. Are there any reliable sources which can provide MET or actual calorie burn data by which we could compare drumming with other exercises?

Also, while it's obviously physically taxing beyond a certain level of skill, does drumming actually raise the heart rate enough to really count as cardio?

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Related: I found someone's measurements here using a GoWear Fit and Rock Band drumming on expert, but I know very little about the GoWear or similar devices and don't know how accurate the data presented is. –  David Perry Apr 8 '12 at 6:06
    
750 kcal in 1.5 hr? That's not too bad, especially given you're doing something you enjoy, so chances are you're much more likely to do it regularly. –  Ivo Flipse Apr 8 '12 at 8:04
    
I'd imagine if you throw a few pairs of drumsticks into the crowd could add a few extra calories if done explosively. –  Salsero69 Apr 8 '12 at 11:39
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2 Answers

Upon further research I stumbled upon this gem from Arizona State University, which catalogs the MET values of various activities. Under the Music Playing category, they list "drums, sitting" as 3.8 METs and "drumming (e.g., bongo, conga, benbe), moderate, sitting" as 3.0 METs, so it seems like the that the forum post claiming ~498 kcal/hr for a 250lb male isn't too far off.

Of course I'd still love to see data from a heart rate monitor during play. The above establishes that drumming (even on plastic toy drums) is definitely exercise, but is it a viable form of cardio?

Update I found this BBC article in which professional drummer Clem Burke was hooked up to equipment to measure heart rate, oxygen uptake and lactic acid production. It was found that during a performance his heart rate averaged 140-150 BPM with peaks up to 190 BPM, comparable to top athletes. Not only does this show that expert-level drumming can be effective cardio, but there's even a dedicated "drumming laboratory" being built at the University of Glouchestershire to continue the study.

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If its viable cardio? How many hours per week would you be doing it that intensive? If you would do it 2-3 hours per week, then I'd definitely count it as exercise –  Ivo Flipse Apr 8 '12 at 20:20
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It's not good to generalize on the heart rate of others. Some people run at 155 bpm, others at 105. Monitor your own heart rate'when drumming.

I hope it works. Drumming certainly seems more fun than a treadmill!

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