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Does Getting a Massage Burn Calories?

We’re constantly looking for ways to boost our daily calorie burn. Whether it’s taking the stairs instead of the elevator, opting for a standing desk over a traditional one, or choosing to walk to the local grocery store rather than driving, every little action adds up.

And sometimes even the most unexpected activities, like getting a massage, can contribute to this tally.

Perhaps you’ve heard that lying down on a massage table can sizzle those calories away. You may be curious about how much truth there is to this. After all, what beats laying back, relaxing, and getting pampered in the name of fitness?

Before you head off to book your next massage appointment with the expectation of shedding pounds, let’s review what science has to say about the relationship between massage and calorie burn.

Does Massage Burn Calories?

Getting a massage burns calories in the same way sleeping does; it’s not a significant amount, but the body does use energy to undergo this activity.

Just like while you’re asleep, your body is still functioning and using energy to keep your blood pumping and oxygen flowing while you’re getting a massage.

Sleep burns around 0.4 calories per pound (5), so a person weighing 150 pounds might expect to burn about 60 calories during an hour-long massage.

The type of massage may have a slight effect on this number, as a more vigorous massage may increase heart rate and therefore burn slightly more calories.

For example, a deep tissue massage may burn slightly more calories than a gentle Swedish massage. A hot stone massage may also cause the body to use more energy to regulate its temperature.

As far as weight loss, getting a massage alone is not a significant calorie-burning activity.

Check out our previous blog: 7 Types of Massage for a comparison between different types of massage.

Which Massage Burns The Most Calories?

Definitive research on the effects of different types of massage on calorie burn is insufficient, but some experts claim that a deep tissue massage may have the highest potential to boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories.

This is because deep tissue massages target deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, requiring more energy from the body to heal manipulated areas.

However, using deep tissue massage for fat loss is not a scientifically proven method. The number of calories burned during a massage is still minimal, and other factors such as diet and exercise will have a much more significant impact on weight loss.


How Many Calories Are Burned In a Deep Tissue Massage?

A deep tissue massage may burn a few more calories than other types of massage, due to its intensity and focus on deeper layers of muscle.

However, the number of calories burned will still be relatively low, likely around 60 calories per hour for someone weighing 150 pounds, given that sleep burns around 0.4 calories per pound.

Of course, this number will vary, depending on factors such as the duration and intensity of the massage, as well as individual body composition.

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Does a Massage Count As Exercise?

A massage is not considered a form of exercise, as it does not involve physical exertion nor does it increase heart rate in the same way that traditional exercises do.

Definitively, exercise is any activity that:

  • Requires physical exertion
  • Increases heart rate and breathing
  • Works muscles to improve strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health

This definition applies to activities like running, swimming, weightlifting and even things like gardening or dancing. However, massage does not fit these criteria.

While getting a massage can be a form of self-care, recovery, and relaxation that contributes to overall well-being, it should not replace traditional forms of exercise in your routine.

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and preventing weight gain (12).

However, incorporating regular massage into an active lifestyle can have positive effects on overall exercise performance.

Is Massage Good For You To Lose Weight?

There’s no direct correlation between massage and weight loss, but regular massage can have indirect benefits for those looking to lose weight. Below are some notable massage benefits for weight loss:

Improved Blood Circulation

Enhanced circulation delivers oxygen and nutrients to tissues and organs more efficiently, which is crucial for repairing muscles after a workout (20). 

This efficient delivery system helps clear the body of toxins and can reduce recovery time, allowing for more frequent and effective exercise sessions.

Metabolism Boost

Better blood circulation can boost metabolism. A higher metabolic rate means the body can burn calories at a more rapid pace, even when at rest (9).

In essence, while massage itself does not directly lead to significant calorie burning, its role in improving blood flow can indirectly support weight loss by enhancing the body’s natural processes that contribute to fat burning and muscle repair.

Manage Fluid Retention and Bloating

Your lymphatic system is responsible for maintaining fluid balance in the body (6), and massage can help stimulate this system to flush out excess fluids. This can be helpful for reducing bloating and water weight, which may contribute to fluctuations on the scale.

Getting a lymphatic massage for weight loss may also help with cellulite reduction, as improved lymphatic drainage can improve the appearance of skin texture and firmness (3).

Read more: Kimchi: Calories, Nutrition, and Health Benefits

Reduced Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

DOMS refers to muscle soreness experienced after a workout, usually caused by microscopic tears in the muscles (2). It’s more common in beginners or those who have increased the intensity of their workouts. This discomfort can hinder exercise performance, making it challenging to stick to an active routine.

Research has shown that massage can help reduce the intensity and duration of DOMS, allowing for more frequent workouts (7).

The mechanism behind this is thought to be the manipulation of muscle tissue during a massage, which helps remove inflammatory chemicals and facilitate tissue repair (7). 

By reducing DOMS, massage can indirectly support weight loss by enabling more frequent and effective exercise sessions.

In a previous blog titled; Massage Before or After Workout, we discuss the best time to incorporate massage into your fitness routine.


Increased Range of Motion and Flexibility

Range of motion (ROM) refers to the extent of movement that a joint can achieve (11). Flexibility, on the other hand, is the ability of muscles and joints to stretch without pain or restriction (4). Both are crucial for performing exercises correctly and avoiding injury.

Massage can help improve ROM and flexibility by:

  • Breaking down adhesions and scar tissue that can limit movement
  • Loosening tight muscles
  • Providing a stretching effect on muscle fibers
  • Stimulating the production of natural lubricants in joints
  • Increasing circulation to tissues, making them more pliable and resistant to injury
  • Allowing for deeper and more effective stretches during exercise sessions.

Having better ROM and flexibility can lead to more efficient and safe workouts, ultimately supporting weight loss goals.

Whether you’re looking to simply pep up your fitness routine, jazz up your diet with mouth-watering low-calorie recipes or want to get your act together and significantly drop that number on your scale – BetterMe app has got you covered! Improve your body and revamp your life with us!

Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation

Injuries, especially those that cause a person to refrain from exercise, can significantly hinder weight loss efforts.

Regular massage can help prevent injuries by (19):

  • Reducing tension and increasing flexibility in muscles and joints
  • Improving circulation and oxygen delivery to tissues
  • Enhancing overall physical performance, making it easier to perform exercises correctly without causing harm.

Massage can also be an effective part of injury rehabilitation by promoting tissue repair and reducing pain and inflammation, allowing for a quicker return to exercise activities (8) (19).

Stress Relief

Stress is one of the leading contributors to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. When a person is under stress, the body produces cortisol, a hormone that can lead to increased appetite and fat storage (14).

When you’re stressed, you’re also more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors like emotional eating or skipping workouts.

Not to mention, stress can also lead to physical tension and discomfort, making it harder to exercise effectively.

Massage can effectively help reduce stress (15) in a number of ways:

  • By triggering the release of endorphins, natural “feel-good” hormones that can promote relaxation and a sense of well-being.
  • By calming the nervous system and reducing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
  • By providing a peaceful and tranquil environment for relaxation and self-care.

By reducing stress, massage can indirectly support weight loss by helping to regulate appetite, promoting healthy behaviors, and allowing for more effective exercise sessions.

Better Sleep

Lack of sleep, or poor quality sleep, can lead to weight gain (13). 

Sleep is essential for regulating hormones that control appetite and metabolism. When you don’t get enough rest, your body may produce more of the hunger hormone ghrelin and less of the satiety hormone leptin, leading to overeating and weight gain (13).

When you don’t sleep well, it’s difficult to perform at your best during exercise, leading to less effective workouts.

Massage has been shown to improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing stress and physical tension (17). By aiding in better sleep, massage can indirectly support weight loss efforts by regulating appetite hormones and allowing for more energy for exercise (16).

Read more: Intermittent Fasting Macros – Managing Calories the Smart Way!


  • Can a Deep Tissue Massage Help You Lose Weight?

A deep tissue massage can help you lose weight by improving circulation, reducing tension and muscle soreness, improving range of motion, and supporting injury prevention (1). However, it is not a direct weight loss solution and should be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

  • Is a Deep Tissue Massage a Workout?

A deep tissue massage is not a replacement for exercise. While it can offer some physical benefits similar to working out, it should not be used as a substitute for regular physical activity.

A “workout” typically involves structured physical activity that aims to improve cardiovascular health, muscular strength, and endurance. Massage can complement a workout routine, but should not be considered a replacement for exercise.

  • Does Deep Tissue Massage Break Up Fat?

Deep tissue massage does not break up fat. Fat cells are broken down through proper nutrition and exercise (10), not by massage.

However, deep tissue massage can aid in weight loss efforts by promoting better circulation, lymphatic drainage and reducing stress levels, allowing for more effective exercise sessions and healthier habits.

We debunk another popular fat burning belief in our blog  – do cold showers really burn fat?

  • Is a 30 Minute Deep Tissue Massage Enough?

30 minutes of deep tissue massage can offer some benefits, such as reducing muscle tension and promoting relaxation. However, for more significant physical effects like improved range of motion and injury prevention, a longer session may be necessary.

It’s essential to discuss your specific needs with a licensed massage therapist, to determine the appropriate length and intensity of your massage sessions.

  • Does a Massage Gun Burn Calories?

A massage gun does not burn calories in the same way that traditional exercise does. It may help improve range of motion, reduce pain, and promote relaxation (18), but it should not be used as a substitute for regular physical activity when trying to lose weight.

  • Does Massage Chair Burn Calories?

A massage chair does not burn calories in the same way as exercise. It may burn a small number of calories, similar to sitting in a comfortable chair and reading a book, or slightly more if the massage is intense. However, massage chairs can offer some physical benefits like reducing muscle tension, reducing pain, and promoting relaxation (21).

The Bottom Line

While massage itself may not directly lead to weight loss, it can have a number of benefits that indirectly support weight loss efforts.

From improved circulation and metabolism to stress reduction and injury prevention, regular massage can contribute to an overall healthier lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a balanced diet.

Incorporating massage into a weight loss journey can provide numerous benefits and enhance the overall well-being of an individual. Just remember, it should not replace traditional forms of physical activity but rather be used as a supplement to support a healthy and active lifestyle. 


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Deep tissue massage: Benefits, risks, and what to expect (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
  2. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) – Physiopedia (n.d., physio-pedia.com)
  3. Effects of mechanical massage, manual lymphatic drainage and connective tissue manipulation techniques on fat mass in women with cellulite (2010, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  4. Flexibility: components, proprioceptive mechanisms and methods (2011, researchgate.net)
  5. How many calories do you burn Sleeping? – Online Calculator! (n.d., burned-calories.com/sport/sleeping)
  6. Lymphatic System Flows (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  7. Massage Alleviates Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness after Strenuous Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (2017, frontiersin.org)
  8. Massage Therapy Modulates Inflammatory Mediators Following Sprint Exercise in Healthy Male Athletes (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  9. Metabolism – Better Health Channel (2023, betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
  10. Physiological process of fat loss (2019, springeropen.com)
  11. Range of Motion – Physiopedia (n.d., physio-pedia.com)
  12. Role of Physical Activity for Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  13. Sleep Deprivation: Effects on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance (2022, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  14. Standardized massage interventions as protocols for the induction of psychophysiological relaxation in the laboratory: a block randomized, controlled trial (2020, nature.com)
  15. Standardized massage interventions as protocols for the induction of psychophysiological relaxation in the laboratory: a block randomized, controlled trial (2020, nature.com)
  16. The association between sleep health and weight change during a 12-month behavioral weight loss intervention (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  17. The beneficial effects of massage therapy for insomnia in postmenopausal women (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  18. The Effects of Massage Guns on Performance and Recovery: A Systematic Review (2023, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  19. The mechanisms of massage and effects on performance, muscle recovery and injury prevention (2005, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  20. The Recovery Benefit on Skin Blood Flow Using Vibrating Foam Rollers for Postexercise Muscle Fatigue in Runners (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  21. Utilization of massage chairs for promoting overall health and wellness: A rapid scoping review (2023, sciencedirect.com)
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