Health and fitness research imageResearch suggests that drummers are as fit as Premiership footballers! A joint study conducted in 2008 by the University of Chichester and the University of Gloucester followed top drummers and monitored their fitness levels. They found that an hour of drumming can burn between 400 and 600 calories. But it’s clear that drummers come in all shapes and sizes – not all drummers look like athletes! So let’s examine some of the health and fitness benefits of a regular drumming workout…

Mental and physical exercise

When you first start learning the drums the part of the body that gets exercised most is not perhaps what you’d expect. Arms? Legs? No – it’s the brain. The brain has to adapt to new coordination challenges. Just like learning to ride a bike or drive a car – when it’s a new set of movements that you haven’t had to do before it takes a bit of time to get your head around it. This process is fun and challenging. In the early days of learning drums, things need to be played through slowly and methodically. As the movements become naturalised there is the room to develop speed and fluidity around the drum kit.

Muscle Memory

The term ‘muscle memory’ is used to describe the time that the movements of your limbs/body are free-flowing without direct conscious thought, or, on ‘autopilot’. Developing muscle memory for drum grooves and chops is something that evolves over time (hours of practice), but just like riding a bike or driving a car, once the technical skills are internalised they won’t be easily forgotten.

We’ve talked about exercising the brain, but what about the body? There’s no doubt that the drum kit is one of the more physically demanding instruments to play. Both arms and legs are in motion virtually constantly. Of course, this does depend on the style of music being played. A fast, loud and heavy rock band is going to require a drummer of extreme fitness levels to sustain the intensity of the performance. A gentle band with quiet and sparse drumming might not require such a feat of athleticism. That’s not to say that gentle/quiet drumming doesn’t keep you fit – even moving gracefully and slowly around the kit enhances blood flow around the body.

References and resources you might like to check out for further information and discussion on this topic:
Drummers as fit as athletes (BBC article) –
The Clem Burke Drumming Project –
Gyms using drumming –
Weight loss and drumming –