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How many calories do you burn at Bersih rallies? A fitness trainer calculates!

Okay, so Bersih 5.0 finished over the weekend with a good turn up (ranging from 15,000 to 40,000, depending on what your news source is). Mebbe some of you wanted to kill two birds with one stone, you know… since we are the fattest country this side of the globe. Yah, so mebbe some of you had your Fitbit® or other activity trackers (this is not a Fitbit® endorsed article, by the way) with you while performing your civic / anarchist duty (depending on who you ask). If you did, tell us how much you burned!

Anyway, for those of you who don’t have an activity tracker, let’s look at what kind of calorie-burn you would experience during a rally.

But first! Let’s get some definitions straight! What actually is a ‘calorie’? It’s not a bad word, k! Calorie is actually a unit of measurement of “energy consumption through eating and drinking, and energy usage through physical activity”. It’s also a dreaded thing that people try to burn off so they don’t put on weight. Paham?

Photo from

But not like this la. Photo from

Now on to how much you might have burnt.


Bersih 5: The peaceful march 

Okay, we heard this one was a peaceful rally (good job, everyone!). Stories about the day were pretty similar. Someone dropped you off at Bangsar. You lepaked and cari kaki, hung around the area and look-see look-see. Maybe you walked about. Okay, “walking” maybe is not a good description because apparently at Jalan Bangsar, under the LRT station, it was so packed that you could hardly move.

So you inched yourself closer to the Brickfields / KL Sentral turn off. After an hour or two, you and your friends go home. Mebbe have something to eat or drink first lah, right?

Sitting quietly for half hour burns 47 calories (photo courtesy of the Sun newspaper)

Sitting quietly for half hour burns 47 calories! Photo from The Sun

Calorie-burn: Yay, you! You burnt off one and a half bananas! About 150 calories! If you had a packeted drink or Coke, then you burnt that off! Just one of those only though, if you had two packet drinks or two cokes or one of each, you actually accumulated more calories. Never mind, can burn off later lah, never know when the zombie apocalypse will happen, right?


Bersih 4: The 33-hour rally/party/senamrobik  

Bersih 4, I guess, was the forerunner for peacefulness and orderliness in a protest rally. Yours truly was present. Unlike Bersih 5 though, you could actually walk all the way downtown to Leboh Ampang, Sogo, vicinity of Dataran Merdeka etc. So most people, like me, parked in Brickfields, walked down to Klang Bas Stand and Pasar Seni, maybe mooched around and had a drink or a bun or pastry and coffee, before moseying down to Jalan Tun Perak for where the action is.

Fist pumping and chanting, while standing (or hopping now and then), about 100 calories for half an hour mebbe (photo courtesy of the Straits Times)

Fist pumping and chanting, while standing (or hopping now and then), about 100 calories for half an hour mebbe. Photo from Straits Times)

Okay from Pasar Seni, a bit crowded lah, so you kinda have to push your way to Jalan Tun Perak, so there is the added resistance when you walk. Then at Jalan Tun Perak, there was a lot of chanting and some fist pumping, so you join in. Let’s say you very bersemangat lah, you pump your fist, wave your flag and throw your head about like there is no tomorrow.

After that, all the “Bersih! Bersih! Undur! Undur!” yelling made you thirsty, so you went had a bubble tea nearby (selling like hot cakes! 2 for RM10 promo we heard.). After awhile, you got bored and walked back to your car in Brickfields.

Line dancing for 20 mins = 145 calories

Line dancing for 20 mins = 145 calories! Photo from Malay Mail Online

Calorie-burn: Okay, this one because got some more activity aside from standing and inching your way for about half a kilometre, it would be about 400 to 500 calories lah. I am being generous, coz I added bonus calorie burn with the head-banging fist-thumping chanting. If you cincai chant, then maybe 350-450 calories. If you pushed loads of people getting to and from Leboh Ampang, maybe add an extra 30 calories (and deduct the same if you were a polite anarchist and pushed no one at all and kept on saying, “No, no, after you!”).

[UPDATE] 6 former activists who are now working for the Malaysian govt (besides Latheefa)

Then, please tambah the kalori2 you tertelan k?

  1. White Coffee: about 300 calories*
  2. Doughnut: 268 calories*
  3. Pearl Milk Bubble Tea: 950 calories (that’s about half your daily intake of energy)
  4. Bonus calories: I know some people who went off for beers after and during the rally, so please add 150 calories for every can of beer you gulped.
Photo courtesy of Channel News Asia

Unedited photo from Channel News Asia

So, you burned about 400-500 calories but if you indulged like 1, 2, 3, 4 above then sorry lah… Better stay home and play with the cat. That might be more slimming.


Bersih Rallies 1-3: Ninja Warrior Edisi Kuala Lumpur 

Okay, so these three were quite exciting, yes? You didn’t go? Well, if you did, you woulda burnt loads of calories, yo! Maybe even a whole day’s worth of calorie deficit! Menyesal now, right?

Walking in tear gas doesn't really burn more calories than regular walking FYI (photo courtesy of the Malay Mail)

Walking in tear gas doesn’t really burn more calories than regular walking FYI. Photo from The Malay Mail

Anyhoo, so you have the usual walk-in like Bersih 5. Then you had the added crowd of people and pushing as you get closer to the heart of the rally, bersemangat chanting like Bersih 4, so altogether 400-500 calories.

Once the FRU comes in, the calories really start to burn. There is the adrenaline kick (that is always helpful if weight loss is your target for attending these protests), and then the running away from the tear gas bombs (don’t tell me you walked away from the tear gas, okay!), so good calorie burn! Of course, as you ran, you inevitably pushed people (but then you helped them up also lah), so there is some resistance exercise for more burn! Yeah! ??

Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera

Unedited photo from Al Jazeera

If you were in the forefront and kena the water canon, then that will add to your calorie consumption. And let’s say it was not your day lah, and you were running away from water canon, tear gas and the samseng2 out to cause problems. Yay you, more fat burned!

Calorie burn: All in all, about 1,200 to maybe 2,000 calories gone! Good workout! Can eat about one and a half big portions of French fries!


Added Activities! 

Ah okay! At these protests, especially the last one, some people attended to protest the protest! So let’s say you attended the protest to protest the protest and you flexed your muscles a bit lah… Mebbe like did some silat or Muay Thai!

Photo courtesy of the Star newspaper

Photo courtesy of the Star newspaper

Well, from what was viewed at the pre-rally demonstrations, that would be about maybe 150-250 calories consumed. Not even a roti canai (which is about 300 calories).

If you decided to protest the protest by allowing your friends to bash you with sticks, followed by a tumble or a continuous rolling tumble, then mebbe add 50 calories more lah. Depends on how long they bash you and for how many metres you continuously tumbled. If they bashed you for half an hour and your rolled one kilometre, mebbe throw in 250 calories burned.


Fitness value of rallies

Well, as seen above, depends on what you do at the rally. Still, I don’t think protest rallies will take off the way marathons and obstacles races have, so DBKL and PDRM won’t be flooded with permit approvals and all dat kinda stuff lah.

But really, uol go not to burn calories, right? But good to know what we burn, how hard it is to burn off the food we eat. If you wanna know more about how much you burn, here’s an online activity tracker for you.

*Calorie counts were taken from Roche Pharmaceuticals “Guess What’s Hidden In Your Favourite Foods?” pamphlet (XEN.30.126.RM)

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