Six calorie-burning museum visits

Published 7 January 2015

Whether you overindulged on Christmas pudding or you've made fitness a new year's resolution, exercise in style with our round-up of Britain's biggest museum calorie burners – from labyrinthine buildings to open-air galleries.

1. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield
Calories burned: 500

Spanning a verdant stretch of rolling Yorkshire countryside, when it comes to combining the visual arts with a good walk, Wakefield's open-air sculpture gallery is unbeatable. A round trip of the park's exhibits – from Roger Hiorns' beautiful Art Fund-supported work Seizure to the Longside Gallery on the opposite side of the lake – covers four miles of hilly terrain, giving spectacular views across the sculpture park, which was named Museum of the Year 2014.

2. St Fagans, Cardiff
Calories burned: 260

The national history museum of Wales takes the museum walk to another level by ditching brick and mortar in favour of the great outdoors. Set in the 100-acre parkland of St Fagans Castle – a late 16th-century manor house – the expansive museum site features more than 30 historical buildings from across Wales, transported to Cardiff and re-erected for a unique experience. Highlights include a historical school and chapel, as well as workshops featuring craftsmen demonstrating traditional skills.

3. British Museum, London
Calories burned: 180

Fans of step aerobics, this one's for you. The winding staircase that takes you from the ground floor of the British Museum to its magnificent Great Court restaurant is great exercise in itself – and that doesn't even touch on the museum's 95 rooms, which house everything from two-million-year-old stone tools to stunning sets of Picasso linocuts. With a full walk around the museum covering almost two miles, it may be a daunting prospect after a lazy Christmas – but where else could you walk from ancient Mesopotamia to contemporary Japan in under five minutes?

4. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Calories burned: 170

Renaissance sculpture, early Egyptian treasures and unique Minoan artefacts – Britain's first public museum is still one of its most impressive, and continues to grow nearly 400 years after its foundation. In 2009, a new wing designed by architect Rick Mather added 39 new galleries to the Ashmolean's already impressive display spaces, making a tour of the museum's five floors of exhibits even better exercise than before.

5. V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum), London
Calories burned: 150

Britain's national museum of the applied arts puts visitors' legs to work on a winding, labyrinthine tour among classical sculptures and towering plaster casts – and that's before taking into account the museum's uncanny ability to send people walking in circles looking for an exit. With two spectacular exhibition spaces located at opposite corners of the building, the V&A rewards a full exploration.

6. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
Calories burned: 140

Spread across two buildings, nine levels and dozens of galleries, Scotland's national museum gives visitors a workout for their bodies as much as their minds. From a basement display of Iron Age archaeology to the sixth-floor exhibition on 20th-century Scotland, the museum has something new to see around every corner, from a 12-metre cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton to a stuffed giant panda.

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