- Learning About Calories
- Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight
- The Mayo Clinic Diet
- Burning Calories With Everyday Activities
- 40 Easy Ways to Burn Extra Calories Every Day
- Clean Up Your Act
- Weigh Down Your Errands
- Bike To Work
- Park Farther Away
- Take It to the Dogs
- “Stand Out” at the Office
- Get Beneath The Sheets
- Squeeze Those Thighs
- Find a Flight of Stairs
- Get To Gardening
- Sit on a Stability Ball
- Go Window Shopping
- Squeeze in Tiny Workouts
- Knit a Sweater
- Sing On Your Commute Home
- Get Cookin’
- Go Bowling
- Take a 2-Minute Walk Every Hour
- Have a Dance Party
- Get Off Your Transit A Stop Earlier
- Go Grocery Shopping
- Take a Lunchtime Stroll
- Catch Up On Your Ironing
- Have a Walking Meeting
- Go Mini Golfing
- Play Darts
- Take a Weekend Hike
- Go Exploring
- Play in the Park
- Play With Your Kids
- Hold Your Calls
- Stop Cursing Those Red Lights
- Pick Up The Pace
- Rewire Your Couch Potato Status
- Make Vacuuming Worthwhile
- Play Pool
- Climb Stairs Over the Escalator
- Move Some Furniture
- Wash Your Car
- Burn calories without even trying
- 5 Everyday Activities That Burn the Most Calories
- 1. Grocery shopping
- 2. Painting
- 3. Burn calories by cleaning
- 4. Help out others
- 5. Gardening
- 20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn
Learning About Calories
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When people talk about the calories in food, what do they mean? A calorie is a unit of measurement — but it doesn’t measure weight or length. A calorie is a unit of energy. When you hear something contains 100 calories, it’s a way of describing how much energy your body could get from eating or drinking it.
Are Calories Bad for You?
Calories aren’t bad for you. Your body needs calories for energy. But eating too many calories — and not burning enough of them off through activity — can lead to weight gain.
Most foods and drinks contain calories. Some foods, such as lettuce, contain few calories (1 cup of shredded lettuce has less than 10 calories). Other foods, like peanuts, contain a lot of calories (½ cup of peanuts has over 400 calories).
Some people watch their calories if they are trying to lose weight. Most kids don’t need to do this, but all kids can benefit from eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes the right number of calories — not too many, not too few. But how do you know how many calories you need?
How Many Calories Do Kids Need?
Kids come in all sizes and each person’s body burns energy (calories) at different rates, so there isn’t one perfect number of calories that every kid should eat. But there is a recommended range for most kids between 6 and 12 years old: 1,600 to 2,200 per day, depending on how active they are.
When they reach puberty, girls need more calories than before, but they tend to need fewer calories than boys. As boys enter puberty, they may need as many as 2,500 to 3,000 calories per day, especially if they are very active. But whether they are girls or boys, kids who are active and move around a lot need more calories than kids who don’t.
If you eat more calories than you need, the body changes extra calories to fat. Too much fat can lead to being overweight and other health problems. Only your doctor can say if you are overweight, so check with him or her if you’re concerned. And never go on a diet without talking to your doctor!.
High-calorie foods — such as sugary sodas, candy, and fast food — quickly add up to too many calories. Instead, eat a healthy, balanced diet. Exercising and playing are really important, too, because physical activity burns calories.
How the Body Uses Calories
Your body needs calories just to operate — to keep your heart beating and your lungs breathing. As a kid, your body also needs calories and nutrients from a variety of foods to grow and develop. And you burn off some calories without even thinking about it — by walking your dog or making your bed.
But it is a great idea to play and be active for an 1 hour or more every day. That means time spent playing sports, playing outside, or riding your bike. It all adds up. Being active every day keeps your body strong and can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Watching TV and playing video games won’t burn many calories at all, which is why you should limit those activities to no more than 2 hours per day. A person burns only about 1 calorie per minute while watching TV, about the same as sleeping!
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD Date reviewed: June 2018
Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight
Why is physical activity important?
Regular physical activity is important for good health, and it’s especially important if you’re trying to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight.
- When losing weight, more physical activity increases the number of calories your body uses for energy or “burns off.” The burning of calories through physical activity, combined with reducing the number of calories you eat, creates a “calorie deficit” that results in weight loss.
- Most weight loss occurs because of decreased caloric intake. However, evidence shows the only way to maintain weight loss is to be engaged in regular physical activity.
- Most importantly, physical activity reduces risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes beyond that produced by weight reduction alone.
Physical activity also helps to–
- Maintain weight.
- Reduce high blood pressure.
- Reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and several forms of cancer.
- Reduce arthritis pain and associated disability.
- Reduce risk for osteoporosis and falls.
- Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
How much physical activity do I need?
When it comes to weight management, people vary greatly in how much physical activity they need. Here are some guidelines to follow:
To maintain your weight: Work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent mix of the two each week. Strong scientific evidence shows that physical activity can help you maintain your weight over time. However, the exact amount of physical activity needed to do this is not clear since it varies greatly from person to person. It’s possible that you may need to do more than the equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to maintain your weight.
To lose weight and keep it off: You will need a high amount of physical activity unless you also adjust your diet and reduce the amount of calories you’re eating and drinking. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight requires both regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan.
What do moderate- and vigorous-intensity mean?
Moderate: While performing the physical activity, if your breathing and heart rate is noticeably faster but you can still carry on a conversation — it’s probably moderately intense. Examples include—
- Walking briskly (a 15-minute mile).
- Light yard work (raking/bagging leaves or using a lawn mower).
- Light snow shoveling.
- Actively playing with children.
- Biking at a casual pace.
Vigorous: Your heart rate is increased substantially and you are breathing too hard and fast to have a conversation, it’s probably vigorously intense. Examples include—
- Swimming laps.
- Rollerblading/inline skating at a brisk pace.
- Cross-country skiing.
- Most competitive sports (football, basketball, or soccer).
- Jumping rope.
How many calories are used in typical activities?
The following table shows calories used in common physical activities at both moderate and vigorous levels.
|Calories Used per Hour in Common Physical Activities|
|Moderate Physical Activity||Approximate Calories/30 Minutes for a 154 lb Person1||Approximate Calories/Hr for a 154 lb Person1|
|Light gardening/yard work||165||330|
|Golf (walking and carrying clubs)||165||330|
|Bicycling (<10 mph)||145||290|
|Walking (3.5 mph)||140||280|
|Weight lifting (general light workout)||110||220|
|Vigorous Physical Activity||Approximate Calories/30 Minutes for a 154 lb Person1||Approximate Calories/Hr for a 154 lb Person1|
|Running/jogging (5 mph)||295||590|
|Bicycling (>10 mph)||295||590|
|Swimming (slow freestyle laps)||255||510|
|Walking (4.5 mph)||230||460|
|Heavy yard work (chopping wood)||220||440|
|Weight lifting (vigorous effort)||440|
|1 Calories burned per hour will be higher for persons who weigh more than 154 lbs (70 kg) and lower for persons who weigh less.Source: Adapted from Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, page 16, Table 4External.|
To help estimate the intensity of your physical activity, see Physical Activity for Everyone: Measuring Physical Activity Intensity.
The Mayo Clinic Diet
Exercise doesn’t have to feel like a chore — there are a variety of fun things to do that are also calorie scorchers. This chart offers a range of activity ideas, including the estimated number of calories burned while doing them for one hour. Specific calorie expenditures vary depending on the exercise, intensity level and individual. If you weigh less than 160 pounds, your calories burned would be somewhat less than shown, and if you weigh more than 240 pounds, calories burned would be somewhat more. Use these stats to motivate you to get moving!
|Activity (1-hour duration)||Weight of person and calories burned|
|160 pounds||200 pounds||240 pounds|
|Cardio, high impact||533||664||796|
|Cardio, low impact||365||455||545|
|Bicycling, < 10 mph, leisurely pace||292||364||436|
|Football, touch or flag||584||728||872|
|Golfing, carrying clubs||314||391||469|
|Resistance (weight) training||365||455||545|
|Running, 5 mph||606||755||905|
|Running, 8 mph||861||1,074||1,286|
|Softball or baseball||365||455||545|
|Tae kwon do||752||937||1,123|
|Walking, 2 mph||204||255||305|
|Walking, 3.5 mph||314||391||469|
Adapted from: Ainsworth BE, et al. 2011 compendium of physical activities: A second update of codes and MET values. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2011;43:1575.
Burning Calories With Everyday Activities
If the thought of working up a sweat on the treadmill at the gym to burn calories doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll be happy to know that you can burn plenty of calories just by doing everyday activities.
“Research shows that people who are physically active during the day can burn an extra 300 calories per day,” says Pete McCall, MS, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. “Over 12 days, that can add up to an extra pound of weight loss,” he says.
Burning Calories: The “NEAT” Way
McCall says that these extra 300 calories per day can come from what is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, which accounts for the energy that you expend when you are not sleeping, eating, or doing structured physical activities like jogging or sports.
“NEAT” activities include things like walking or riding a bike for transportation, typing on the computer, working in the yard, and cleaning the house. Even fidgeting is considered a “NEAT” activity that can turn up your calorie-burning engine.
These activities help you burn calories by increasing your metabolic rate. This is why agricultural and manual workers tend to have higher metabolic rates than people who live more leisurely lifestyles. In fact, the calories burned through NEAT can differ by as much as 2,000 calories per day between two people who are similar in size.
Burning Calories: Totaling the Burn
“NEAT” calories can really add up — and fast.
According to Kimberly Lummus, MS, RD, Texas Dietetic Association media representative and public relations coordinator for the Austin Dietetic Association in Austin, Texas, in 30 minutes a person who weighs 150 pounds can burn the following number of calories:
- Raking leaves = 147 calories
- Gardening or weeding = 153 calories
- Moving (packing and unpacking) = 191 calories
- Vacuuming = 119 calories
- Cleaning the house = 102 calories
- Playing with the kids (moderate activity level) = 136 calories
- Mowing the lawn = 205 calories
- Strolling = 103 calories
- Sitting and watching TV = 40 calories
- Biking to work (on a flat surface) = 220 calories
Burning Calories: A Little More Every Day
If you are trying to increase the number of calories you burn, make an effort to do more “spontaneous physical activities” throughout your day. The best way to do this is to reduce the time you spend sitting, while adding calorie-burning activities to your daily routine.
McCall says that the following can increase your level of calorie-burning throughout the day:
- Walk down the hall to see a colleague rather than making a phone call or sending an e-mail.
- Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator.
- Clean your house instead of using a cleaning service.
- Take your dog out for more frequent walks.
- Ride your bike or walk to work rather than driving.
You can also consider wearing a pedometer to track the number of steps you take throughout the day. Once you have an idea of how many steps you take on average, set increasingly higher goals for yourself and find ways to take a few extra steps each day. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself running up stairs, volunteering to sweep the porch, and finding reasons to walk to the store. The more you move, the more you’ll want to move!
40 Easy Ways to Burn Extra Calories Every Day
At this point, it’s almost common knowledge that sitting is the new smoking. Study after study has shown that sitting for an extended period of time each day can make us fat and increases our risk of premature death.
So what can we do when a quarter of our lives are spent at the office with our butts glued to a chair? The answer: figure out a way to get up and get moving. And according to an expansive new study, you don’t have to step into a fitness studio to do it.
The research, published in The Lancet, found that just two and a half hours of weekly exercise can help extend your life and decrease your risk of heart disease!
And get this: it doesn’t matter how you choose to spend those 150 weekly minutes exercising. Whether you sign up for a spin class or take up walking around your neighborhood, any physical activity counts.
“I would dispel the notion of having to put out money to be active,” Dr. Scott Lear, the study lead author and a professor at Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Health Sciences in Canada, said in an email to Vox. “Our findings indicate that nonrecreational activity—work, housework, active transportation—is just as beneficial in reducing the risk for premature death and heart disease.”
Since we can’t stick a straw into the fountain of youth, we’ve put together the next best thing: a guide to becoming more active right now. Below are some of the easiest ways to start burning more calories today! And if these everyday activities inspire you to hit the gym, then you don’t want to miss learning more about the mistakes people make the first time they work out.
Clean Up Your Act
Cleaning doesn’t just make your house look spick-and-span, but can make your body look better while you’re at it. All you have to do is stay mindful about your movements as you move from room to room. Clench your core while you bend over the tub or a dustpan, then stand on your toes when you scrub some dishes.
“Balance on one foot while wiping down counters, sinks, and walls—just make sure to do both sides,” Michelle Opperman, Group Fitness Manager of Crunch in New Montgomery, says. With doable tips like these, you can tone up while tackling that to-do list. Cleaning for just 25 minutes can burn 100 calories. P.S. Did you know your home could be making you fat?
Weigh Down Your Errands
“Keeping ankle weights in your car are a great way to make grocery shopping and picking up dry cleaning a little bit more challenging. Other options include a weighted vest that allows you to increase and decrease the weight from day today,” recommends Fitness coach Nadia Murdock. “Feeling bashful? Camouflage these fit essentials with a stylish zip-up hoodie or a pair of slouchy activewear bottoms.”
Bike To Work
If you have the convenience of living close enough to work (and don’t have an important meeting where you have to dress up), consider biking to the office. And if the entire commute would be too far, split it up! Take the bus, subway, or train to a near point and then bike the rest of the way.
Park Farther Away
Start multitasking by cutting calories on your commute. Zuta Gilchriest, Regional Group Fitness Director of NY CRUNCH gums, suggests that an easy way to start moving earlier in the morning is to park your car a few blocks away or at the farthest spot in the parking garage to extend your short walk inside the office..
Take It to the Dogs
Your pooch’s playfulness is also a great calorie burner for you! “Running around with the dog can be a great way to burn calories and get in a great workout without going to the gym. As long as you are moving, your muscles are contracting and burning calories,” says Derek Mikulski, BS, CSCS, CPT, Founder of ActivMotion, “Just be sure to set aside some dedicated time each day. Just ten minutes per day of playing with your dog at a moderate level of intensity can burn more than 15,000 calories in a year! This equates to roughly five or six pounds of fat!” If you’re already outside walking your pup, why not take an extra lap or two? The extra steps will aid your weight loss efforts and will benefit your four-legged friend, too!
“Stand Out” at the Office
Turns out it is possible to type just as easily when you’re standing as when you’re sitting—and you’re burning a lot more calories while you’re at it. That’s why Dave Colina, certified CrossFit trainer, Krav Maga instructor, and founder of formula O2, says, “If you work in front of a computer all day, I highly recommend experimenting with a standing desk.” If your office doesn’t allow for a standing desk, DIY one by propping your monitor and keyboard up on a stack of books. Up the ante even more with a pedal or treadmill desk.
Get Beneath The Sheets
What if we told you it was possible to lose weight without even getting out of bed? According to University of Montreal researchers, women burn off 69 calories during the average sex sesh, while men burn off 100. You probably didn’t need any excuse to get busy in the bedroom, but as far as reasons go, you have to admit that this is a good one. Send the scale down by getting turned on. Not sure you can go that long? Add these foods that increase sexual stamina to your weekly diet.
Squeeze Those Thighs
If you do find that you’re sitting quite a bit throughout the day, there’s an easy way to take advantage says Alanna Zabel, star of the Element: Beginner Level Yoga DVD. “I use thigh bands while I am working and writing on my computer,” she reveals. “Seize every moment because they all add up!” Speaking of things that add up, sometimes they’re not so good—like these little things making you fatter. You’ve been warned!
Find a Flight of Stairs
This is an obvious one, but you may be surprised how much weight you can lose by doing it. You have a file you need to deliver to the 15th floor, but your office is on the 10th. Use the stairs instead of the elevator, and you’ll burn twice as many calories as you do walking. According to the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, a 150-pound person could lose about 6 pounds per year just by climbing up two flights of stairs every day! Bump that up to six, and you could drop 18 pounds without ever hitting the gym.
Get To Gardening
Did you know you could burn 100 calories by giving gardening a go for just 22 minutes? And that’s if you weigh 175 pounds. If you weigh more than that, you’ll burn calories at an even faster pace. And while you’re digging in the dirt anyway, make sure you give yourself a double dose of the good stuff by planting produce in addition to all your pretty flowers. That way, you’ll have fresh veggies and herbs to help with your healthy meal preps.
Sit on a Stability Ball
Swapping out your desk chair for a stability ball will help you strengthen your core and burn more calories at the same time. According to Jill Koegel, RD, a sports-certified registered dietitian, sitting on one of those big sports balls during your workday can burn up to an extra 100 calories a day. If you work 300 days in a year, that could add up to an extra 30,000 calories—or about 8.5 pounds!
Go Window Shopping
Checking out the latest fashions and gadgets at the mall will fry 100 calories in a mere 33 minutes!
Squeeze in Tiny Workouts
That mom of three who also teaches spin class and always looks fanfreakintastic? Awesome. But that’s not attainable for everyone, which can leave you feeling frustrated that you can’t be a workout god or goddess, too. The good news: You only need 2 and a half minutes to boost your metabolism and start burning calories, too. Research from the American Physiological Society showed that people who did five 30-second bursts of max-effort cycling, followed by 4 minutes of rest, burned 200 extra calories that day and boosted their metabolism for the next 24-48 hours. It’s highly unlikely you have a stationary bike handy at your place of work, but a similar result could be achieved by running up the stairs and doing jumping jacks.
Knit a Sweater
Stay warm and stay slim this winter by knitting a one-of-a-kind sweater. Just 50 minutes with your knitting needles and yarn will incinerate 100 calories.
Sing On Your Commute Home
This is a surprising one. Turning up the radio and singing along to your favorite tunes might annoy your kids, but it’ll help you burn calories during your morning commute! If you spend 40 minutes belting it out, you’ll burn off about 100 calories. For more surprising ways to burn calories, check out these overlooked ways to lose weight.
Typically order in? Don’t. You’ll only have to spend 30 minutes cooking to burn 100 calories. Now that’s a diet dinner!
So long as you steer clear of the concession stand, a round of bowling (which lasts only 25 minutes) will kick 100 calories to the curb.
Take a 2-Minute Walk Every Hour
You think you may walk a lot at work, but very rarely is anyone walking through their office for more than 20 seconds. Try timing yourself the first couple of times you walk for one minute (so that it’s a two-minute round-trip back to your desk) to develop a couple options for your “walking routes.” Here’s why it’s worth a try: A recent study in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that a two-minute walk every hour can offset the effects of too much sitting, one of the habits that make you sick and fat.
Have a Dance Party
Whether you bust a move in your living room or at the club, shaking your tail feather for just 17 minutes will burn off 100 calories. Whether you’re heading to the club, taking a class, or breaking out your best moves in your living room, start dancing! Moving to music is a great way to get your heart pumping because it’s one of those workouts that doesn’t feel like a workout. Don’t believe us? A study by the University of Brighton found that certain kinds—think swing or contemporary—can actually burn more calories than a run.
Get Off Your Transit A Stop Earlier
You might think of yourself as lucky if your transit option drops you off close to work, but it’s not doing your body any favors. If it’s possible, consider getting off at an earlier drop off point and walking the rest of the way to burn extra calories.
Go Grocery Shopping
As long as you’re shopping for healthy foods, the supermarket can help you slim down in two ways. Lifting and pushing movements you make while collecting everything you need around the store work your shoulders and core. In fact, spending 22 minutes shopping for these food staples for a flat belly to burn off a 100 calories.
Take a Lunchtime Stroll
Spend the first third of your lunch hour strolling around outside. It’s an easy way to squeeze in some daily exercise and works off about 100 calories.
Catch Up On Your Ironing
We know it’s ironing is an annoying chore, but setting aside time to catch up on all of your wrinkled clothing can benefit your waistline and your wardrobe. Sixty minutes is all it takes to blast away 100 calories.
Have a Walking Meeting
You and your co-workers can easily burn 100 calories in just 38 minutes by taking your meeting outside the conference room.
Go Mini Golfing
A 37 minute game of putt-putt will incinerate 100 calories.
Spend 51 minutes at your favorite bar playing a fun game of darts with friends. So long as you steer clear of the booze, you’ll burn off 100 calories. And next time you indulge in some alcohol, stick with one of these wines for weight loss.
Take a Weekend Hike
Take in the sights and sounds of nature all while burning off mega calories. Just 15 minutes into your hike, you’ll have burned off 100 calories—and most trips last far longer than that!
Lace up your sneakers and play tourist in your own city! Check out historic walking tours in your area or find a nearby nature path with a killer view. Walking is easy on the joints, burns a fair number of calories and is a great way to take in new sites and sounds.
Volunteering at a dog shelter or lending a hand at a park clean-up is an engaging way to meet others, give back to your community and add some extra activity to your day.
Play in the Park
Instead of grabbing drinks or dinner with your friends, head to the park with a frisbee or a football and log some playtime. In the cooler months, hit a ping pong or pool hall for a bit of friendly, active competition—just steer clear of the beer and caloric cocktails.
Play With Your Kids
Have kids? They’re surely in needing of burning off a ton of energy so take advantage and get in on the action with them. Not only are backyard games like tag, hopscotch and catch, enjoyable and fun, they can actually burn off a fair share of calories. “Create an obstacle course for your kids and race them! Run, jump, crawl, race! ” says Diana Newton, co-owner and trainer at Fitmix Studio in LA. “Don’t have kids? Borrow your friends’ kids and let their parents go on a day date while you babysit.”
Hold Your Calls
Next time your cell phone rings, stand up to answer it and don’t sit back down for the whole call. Katy Fraggos of the boutique fitness studio, Perspirology, has a way to make it even more challenging. “Try balancing on one leg throughout the duration of the call. Alternate to balance on the opposite leg when the next call comes in.”
Stop Cursing Those Red Lights
Next time you’re stuck in traffic or at a red light (as it’s important not to let yourself get distracted driving), you can easily take advantage of the time to work your core muscles and improve posture. “To do this, hold the steering wheel at ten and two.Sit with your back as straight as possible, ears stacked over the shoulders also allowing you to relax the back of the neck. Glide shoulder blades down the back and squeeze shoulder blades slightly inward,” says Jessica Diaz, Barre instructor and certified personal trainer. “Start to breathe your bellybutton in towards your spine, towards the lower back, toning the core muscles. Focus on taking deep calming but forceful belly breaths. You can do what I do to have fun with this and blast your favorite song, exhaling sharply to the beat!”
Pick Up The Pace
Just because you don’t have extra time to drive to the gym and back on a regular basis doesn’t mean you don’t have time to squeeze in a few walks this week. Whether you partner up, put a leash on your dog, or lace up your sneakers on your own, taking a walk can burn more calories than you think. Instead of simply strolling, put some pep in your step; by speeding up your walk from 3.5 MPH to 4, you’ll end up burning an extra 1,200 calories a month. Just get going every day for only 20 minutes.
Rewire Your Couch Potato Status
While we would never want to distract you from your favorite show, commercials are a prime time to workout. “Focus on one exercise each commercial break, doing as many as you can. Work your way through the body moving onto the next exercise at the next commercial segment,” recommends Opperman. “An example would be squats, push-ups, reverse lunges, crunches, jumping jacks. To increase the intensity you can add speed or add plyo to the moves. The show segment becomes your recovery.” Watching a show on say Netflix with no commercial break? You’re not off the hook. “Pick a word before the show starts and every time you hear it do five burpees,” says Opperman. “This could quickly get real fun and challenging.”
Make Vacuuming Worthwhile
Vacuuming probably isn’t the kind of thing you want to postpone any longer than you have to—or is it? Walking lunges are a great way to work on your abs, hips, and thighs, and you can do them while you vacuum. “While holding the vacuum, take a big step forward with one leg while lifting the heel of the other foot,” suggests Dr. Robert G. Silverman, nutritionist and HardStyle Kettlebell Certified instructor. “Bend the knees and drop your hips down. Don’t let the back knee touch the ground. Come back up and bring the back foot forward in another big step. Repeat until the carpet is clean.”
Yes, you can burn calories on your night out on the town. Simply relocate the group outing to a bar with a pool table. For every couple games of pool you shoot, you’ll burn almost the same amount of calories as there are in a 12 oz. bottle of Budweiser—that’s 111.
Climb Stairs Over the Escalator
Next time you hike out of the Subway system or walk around the mall, you’ll torch an insane amount of calories if you skip the escalator and opt for the stairs instead. Tourists take note: All those stairs can help balance out those indulgent vacation meals.
Move Some Furniture
Friend moving? Or you’re looking to redecorate? Moving furniture around for 30 minutes will burn a staggering 167 calories.
Wash Your Car
Car looking a little dusty recently? Why not skip the drive-through carwash, save some cash, and do the sudsing yourself. Delegating an hour to hosing down and buffing up your vehicle will burn roughly 140 calories if you weigh 150 pounds.
Get the New Book!
Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!
It’s not always easy to get to the gym every day, but if you’re on the fast track to swimsuit shopping, you have no time to spare. The good news: Burning off 500 calories a day multiplied by seven days equals 3,500 calories burned, which brings you one pound closer to fitting into that little polka dot bikini. When time is of the essence, simply adding extra minutes to your everyday activities can help you reach your calorie-burning goals. Here are 27 sneaky ways to burn more calories.
Burn calories without even trying
It’s not always easy to get to the gym every day, but if you’re on the fast track to swimsuit shopping you have no time to spare. The good news: Burning off 500 calories a day multiplied by seven days equals 3,500 calories burned, which brings you one pound closer to fitting into that little polka dot bikini. When time is of the essence, simply adding extra minutes to your everyday activities can help you reach your calorie-burning goals. Here are 27 sneaky ways to burn more calories.
Awareness is key to reaping the health benefits of sneaky activities
Plus, be aware of this added activity in order to reap its full benefits. Here’s why: A 2008 study by a Harvard psychologist studied hotel maids who spend a good part of their day lugging around heavy equipment. Although their physical work kept them moving all day long, they did not see themselves as physically active. The researchers divided the maids into two groups. They educated one group about the number of calories they burned each day and explained how they already met the daily recommendations for activity. The second group was not told anything.
Surprisingly, after a month, the educated group decreased their blood pressure, weight and saw a 10 percent drop in blood pressure—even though they did not change their routines in any way! Researchers concluded the women’s changed mindset helped their body respond to the activity they were already doing. Placebo effect? Possibly. Either way, as you go about your day, focus on what you’re doing and see yourself as an active woman and you may also see similar changes after four weeks.
Mix and match the following activities and watch the calorie-burning add up. (Calories are based on a 150-pound woman; stats provided by the American College of Sports Medicine.)
Calories burned per 30 minutes of activity
- Stretching: 89 calories
- Sweeping floors: 118 calories
- Mopping floors: 129 calories
- Food shopping: 82 calories
- Carrying groceries upstairs: 258 calories (89 calories/10 minutes)
- Mowing the lawn: 197 calories
- Mowing the lawn on a riding mower: 89 calories
- Planting seedlings: 161 calories
- Raking the lawn: 154
- Walking slowly, carrying light objects (less than 25 pounds): 143 calories
- Gardening in general: 143 calories
- Walking, gathering gardening tools: 107 calories
- Walking, on the job, empty-handed (3.5 mph): 161 calories
- Making beds: 72 calories
- Bathing the dog (standing): 125 calories
- Reclining with baby: 54 calories
- Child care: 107 calories
- Jogging in place: 251 calories
- Lying quietly watching TV: 36 calories
- Tailoring, hand sewing: 72 calories
- Walking up hills: 251 calories
- Standing: 72 calories
- Playing Frisbee: 107 calories
- Elder care: 142 calories
- Jogging on a mini trampoline: 161 calories
- Sexual activity (passive, kissing, hugging): 36 calories
- Sexual activity (vigorous): 54 calories
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5 Everyday Activities That Burn the Most Calories
Ever spent the day doing chores and running errands only to come home exhausted? You may not have run 10 miles, but your body may feel like it did. This is because small bursts of exercise build up over time and burn major calories. Every time you do the dishes, mow the lawn, or lug around grocery bags, you’re burning calories. Considering that 53% of Americans say they want to lose weight, this is great news. By being more mindful of your daily routine you can increase your calorie burn. But how many calories do you burn doing everyday activities? And how does this factor into your weight-loss goals?
The following activities and their calorie burn are based off of different body types. For example, if you’re a 210-pound male, you’ll actually burn more calories doing the same thing as a 170-pound male. In weight loss, the ultimate goal is to eat fewer calories than you burn. Here are five common activities that burn some serious calories.
1. Grocery shopping
Grocery shopping burns calories, believe it or not. | Thinkstock
Unless you have your groceries delivered, grocery shopping is one chore everyone has to do. One hour spent in the grocery store will burn about 260 calories, based on calculations for a 155-pound person. If you weigh more, you’ll actually burn more and if you weigh less, you may have to work a bit harder to reach that same calorie burn. To get the full effect, load up your cart with the heaviest items first (think watermelons, gallons of milk, and beer) so that you’re forced to push a heavy cart around the store. Have to pick up dog chow? Go into a deep squat when picking the bag off the lower rack.
Painting a house is hard physical work. | iStock.com
Painting the interior or exterior of your home may be something you dread. In fact, it may be something you’re willing to pay someone else to take care of. If you’re looking to cut a few inches off your waistline, there may be nothing better than a weekend spent deep in paint. A 150-pound person burns around 1,026 calories from three hours of painting, which means if you’re painting your entire apartment or are working on the exterior of the house you can burn some serious calories while saving money and fixing up your home.
3. Burn calories by cleaning
Cleaning comes with many benefits. | iStock.com
How many times have you argued with your roommate or significant other on whose turn it is to clean the house? Skip those petty arguments and rack up some serious brownie points by taking care of the cleaning yourself. For every 30 minutes you spend sweeping the floors, you can burn 118 calories. Mopping burns around 129 calories in the same amount of time.
4. Help out others
Helping your neighbors can slim your waistline. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages
Ever wanted a reason to talk to your cute neighbor or do something nice for the sweet old lady who lives in your building? Next time a neighbor comes home with a car full of groceries, offer to help. Carrying groceries upstairs can burn an impressive 89 calories every 10 minutes or 258 calories in 30 minutes. Not only will you gain a new friend and do your good deed for the day, but you’ll be burning calories without even realizing it.
Gardening will burn calories, too. | iStock.com
Once you start paying attention to the harmful effects of the pesticides used to grow your fruits and vegetables, you may be tempted to start your own little garden. Having homegrown tomatoes, basil, and spinach sounds great, but if that wasn’t enough, working in the garden is a serious calorie burner. A 155-pound person burns 334 calories in 30 minutes to an hour by performing basic gardening chores like weeding, pruning, and watering.
20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn
The simple truth of weight loss, no matter what the latest trendy diet says, is that you have to use more calories than you consume. The good news is that you don’t have to spend all your waking hours at the gym attached to some complicated, beeping hunk of metal because everything you do burns calories. Check out the following activities and the number of calories they burn. (Note: Calories are based on a 150-pound person. A heavier person will burn more calories.)
1. Shop till you drop
Pushing a cart up and down the supermarket aisles for an hour will burn 243 calories and you’ll get acquainted with all kinds of nutritious, healthful foods. Bag your own groceries, take them out to the car yourself, and return the cart to the corral, and you’ll burn even more.
2. Open up
Most dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for at least two minutes. In that time, you’ll burn a whopping 5.7 calories, but then again, not everything is about weight loss.
3. Make it shine
Do your tables, shelves, and knickknacks fail the white-glove test? Burn 80 calories by dusting the surfaces in your home for 30 minutes and you’ll be ready the next time a drill sergeant stops by for an inspection.
4. Pucker power
It may not burn as many calories as dusting, but 30 minutes of kissing is a lot more fun. You’ll burn 36 calories and probably miss a bad sitcom.
5. Wrinkle-free weight loss
Burn 76.5 calories with 30 minutes of ironing; just be careful that you don’t burn the clothes.
6. Paint thinner
You know you need to paint the house, but you’re lacking the motivation. Does it help to know that three hours of house painting will burn 1,026 calories? And by putting on that second coat, you might drop a whole pants size.
7. Sock it to me
You can now look forward to laundry day because 30 minutes of folding clothes will burn 72 calories. Fold enough clothes and you may soon be putting away smaller sizes.
8. Pick up trash and drop pounds
Pick up some waste and reduce your waist by spending an afternoon cleaning up the neighborhood. In four hard-worked hours, you’ll burn 1,800 calories and improve your community.
On the next page you will find 12 more everyday calorie-burning activities.
Who says burning calories has to be hard? You don’t have to work yourself to exhaustion or do a ton of boring, grueling cardio to shed some fat. The 10 everyday activities below burn calories without you even realizing it!
Even if you do like to work out for some 30 minutes a day, but mostly sit for the rest of the day (e.g., in the office or at home in front of the computer or TV) the exercise alone just may not be sufficient for health.
You should not forget about being more active throughout the day by simply choosing more movement requiring options in your daily activities.
The calories calculated in each activity below are for a 130 lbs (60 kg) person. If you weigh more than 130 lbs, you would burn slightly more. Likewise, weighing less than 130 lbs means you would burn a little less than the number of calories given below.
Time: 30 Minutes
Calories Burned: 162
Gardening is a fantastic workout because it has you squatting down, walking around and digging, giving your arms, legs and core a great workout. The burned calories add up quickly, and if you are growing your own food, it’s a double benefit because you are eating healthy and exercising.
Time: 30 Minutes
Calories Burned: 120
If your work or daily activities have you walking a good portion of your day, then you’ll be happy with this one. Walking works your leg muscles and stretches out your hip muscles, which become tight with extended periods of sitting. It’s also a great way to get your heart pumping for a cardiovascular workout.
3. Child Care
Time: 30 Minutes
Calories Burned: 107
It depends on how much mischief your child decides to get into on any given day, but on average you will burn about 107 calories for every half-hour spent taking care of children. Arms and legs can be worked pretty hard due to carrying and squatting, but the whole body is used for this demanding task.
Time: 30 Minutes
Calories Burned: 97
Hitting the grocery store is a great way to add a little bit of exercise to your day. While your legs are the main muscle being worked, your entire musculature is used to keep you supported as you walk around the store. If you carry something heavy back to the car, you would also be working more of your arms and shoulders. Shopping is great for cardiovascular health because it gets your heart pumping about 50% faster than resting, and it also gets you a little stretched out as you reach for your (hopefully) healthy items.
Time: 30 Minutes
Calories Burned: 90
It depends on how much you dance while you sweep, but on average, sweeping will burn 90 calories for every 30 minutes. Sweeping works your arms while you brush back and forth, and your back and legs are also worked from bending over to clean up the mess.
Time: 30 Minutes
Calories Burned: 84
Sucking up dirt around the house can also suck up fat from your waistline. Vacuuming works your legs, arms and back as you walk, push back and forth, and bend over. Vacuuming supports a healthy heart by increasing heart rate, and the dirt being sucked up promotes a clean house and a clean mind.
Time: 30 Minutes
Calories Burned: 80
Dusting your furniture kills two birds with one stone — cleaning the house and burning calories. Squatting down to get those hard-to-reach places works your legs, and your shoulders are worked by holding your arms out for extended periods of time. Careful attention to dusting also takes your mind off of worries, which relieves stress.
Time: 30 Minutes
Calories Burned: 75
If you can stand instead of sitting, you’ll burn 75 calories per 30 minutes, which is 30 calories more than you would burn by sitting. Therefore, if you can help it, stand up! Standing still works your legs and core as they support you, and standing upright improves your posture.
9. Preparing Dinner
Time: 30 Minutes
Calories Burned: 74
Working your way around the kitchen every night to make dinner helps to burn some easy calories. When cooking, your whole body is being worked at some point, but arms are especially targeted by stirring or shaking during preparation. The best part about preparing dinner is that you aren’t eating some processed junk or fast food, which, of course, makes your healthier.
10. Computer Work
Time: 30 Minutes
Calories Burned: 41
Typing or clicking away on the computer can add up the burned calories as well. Your hands and forearms get the brunt of the work, but if you are sitting up straight, your back and neck muscles get some work as well. Sitting up straight also comes with the added benefit of improving posture, which helps to prevent chronic back pain.