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Burning Calories With Danny Miles

Nadia Azar  /  UPDATED Aug 30, 2022

Drummer Lab is a series that follows Nadia Azar’s kinesiology research on some of your favorite drummers.

How many Calories does Danny Miles burn during a show with July Talk?

My first inkling that this “calorie burning during live performances” experiment could really turn into something came after I posted Jeff Burrows’ study results on social media. At the end of the post, I asked people to use the comments to tag drummers they’d want to see participate in the study.

One of the first comments was from Danny Miles, the drummer for award-winning Canadian band July Talk, saying that he’d be a willing participant! The band wasn’t actively touring at the time, but they did have a few shows scheduled over the coming months, so we made plans to monitor Danny at two of them.

danny2 2 1

Here’s what we found:

The first show was on May 11, 2018, at a very crowded (read: HOT) indoor venue in Toronto, Ontario. That night, Danny burned 726 Calories during a 70-minute set (including time between songs), so the average rate of Calories burned over the whole set was about 10 Calories/minute.

set breakdown 2

“Picturing Love” was the most intense song (~13 Cal/min), and “I’ve Rationed Well” was the least intense (~6 Cal/min)…which makes perfect sense, because “I’ve Rationed Well” had the least and lightest drumming of all the songs in the set.

Danny Miles Bar Chart Show 1

Danny wore the armbands for the second time a few months later during a cool and rainy outdoor set at Riverfest Elora (August 17, 2018). Total energy expenditure over the 86-minute set was 863 Calories, for an average intensity of about 10 Calories/min – pretty much identical to the intensity from Show #1. This time, “Lola + Joseph” was the most intense song (13 Cal/min), edging out “Picturing Love” (12.8 Cal/min) by the slimmest of margins. Once again, “I’ve Rationed Well” came up as the least intense song (~6 Cal/min).

For the second show, Danny also wore a heart rate (HR) monitor – an aspect I had added to the study protocol in the weeks between his two data collections. Danny’s average HR during Show #2 was 143 bpm. This is well above the typical resting HR for a healthy adult (60-100 bpm) and represented 78% of his age-predicted maximum HR.

Danny Miles Bar Chart Show 2

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines any activities that push your HR into this zone as “vigorous-intensity” activities1. Both the ACSM and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) recommend that healthy adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every week1,2. Danny spent 55% of the show at a vigorous intensity (77-95 % of max HR1) and another 44% of the show at a moderate intensity (64-76 % of max HR1). At 86 minutes, that’s more than half of the weekly exercise recommendation for healthy adults in a single show.

Still think playing the drums isn’t exercising?

Top 3 takeaways:

1. Danny burned an average of 10 Calories per minute at both shows.
2. “Picturing Love” and “Lola + Joseph” were the most intense songs (~13 Cal/min each).
3. Danny’s average heart rate during Show #2 was 143 bpm (78% of his age-predicted maximum heart rate).


1. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (10th Ed). 2018. Deborah Riebe, Jonathan K. Ehrman, Gary Liguori, Meir Magal (eds.). Wolters Kluwer Health, Philadelphia, PA, 472 pp.
2. Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (2011). Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. Retrieved July 25, 2018 from

Feature Image: Robert Georgeff

Nadia Azar Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Windsor, where she runs the Drummer Mechanics and Ergonomics Research Laboratory (DRUMMER Lab). Follow Nadia at @DrNadiaAzar or learn more here.

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