If Santa Walked Instead of Riding In His Sleigh — How Many Calories Would He Burn?

Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, is largely responsible for the image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head. In 1822 he wrote a long Christmas poem called “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas, ” commonly called ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, which helped popularize the image of Santa Claus flying from house to house in “a miniature sleigh” led by eight flying reindeer (the legendary Rudolph with his glowing red nose didn’t make his first appearance until 1939).

In 1881 political cartoonist Thomas Nast used Moore’s poem to create our modern image of Santa Claus  showing Santa as a rotund, cheerful man with a full, white beard, holding a sack filled with children’s toys. Nast gave Santa his bright red suit trimmed with white fur, the North Pole workshop, elves, and Mrs. Claus.

How Many Calories Does Santa Burn On His Christmas Rounds?

Even Santa has weight challenges – and most certainly he has a lot of carb and calorie temptation with all of the cookies and milk left out for him! He uses a sleigh pulled by reindeer that lands him on the roof – so he doesn’t get much exercise just sliding down the chimney (tough with that belly and bag of presents. Should Santa change to walking for transport and eat healthier throughout Christmas Eve?

On Christmas Eve, Santa visits an estimated 92 million households. Walking.about.com figures that if all households were evenly distributed across the earth, Santa would travel 0.78 miles between houses, or 71,760,000 (71.8 million) miles.

Guessing Santa’s weight at 250 pounds and that he’s a walking pretty fast walker – he has to be to get his deliveries done in one night – walking.about.com’s calorie counter estimates that he would burn 13 billion calories.

Would He Burn Off All That Milk And Cookies?

Two small cookies and a cup of skim milk (giving households the benefit of doubt about full fat dairy) clock in at about 200 calories. If Santa snacks at each of the 92 million households, that works out to a payday of 18.4 billion calories.

So, Santa would gain 1,529,350 pounds every Christmas Eve — even if he walked instead of rode in his sleigh. Walking, he’d have to circle the Earth 1,183 times to burn off the extras.

What If He Snacked On Veggies Instead Of Cookies?

Maybe Santa is a modern weight conscious man.  If he had a cup of carrot and celery sticks at each house rather than cookies and milk,  he would have just 50 calories at each house which would add up to 4.6 billion calories. Since he would burn off 13 billion calories by walking, he’d actually lose all of his weight and disappear.  Maybe the best idea for him would be a nice combination of veggies at most households and cookies or skim milk every few households to keep him in caloric balance.

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