You can burn off the same number of calories or more as you would in a 1-hour aerobics class without ever setting foot in a gym or snapping on spandex. It’s so easy. In fact, you probably did it at one time.
Remember when you had to walk into the gas station to pay? When delivery pizza wasn’t an option? When you mowed your own lawn? When you had to get off the couch to change the channel? These are just a few of the tasks that are becoming obsolete and depriving us of physical activity. If you add up all the extra calories you could burn just from doing a few things that involve actually moving, you could lose up to 20 pounds in a year!
If you’re using all that extra free time to take long walks, ride your bike, or in some way regularly exercise—great. But let’s be realistic: Most of us are spending those hours sitting in a car or slouched in front of a computer or TV or worst yet, standing in a corner of a bar playing with your smartphone.
Most people don’t realize how very sedentary their life has become. A major and often unrecognized reason for the widening waistlines of Americans is this gradual ratcheting down of daily life activity. The average adult expends about 300 to 700 fewer calories per day than her parents did.
The good news is that adding simple activity back into your daily life is an easy, effective way to shape up, burn calories, and get healthy. A Cooper Institute study found that lifestyle activities such as climbing stairs and parking your car in the farthest space offer benefits similar to those gained in a gym workout.
Here are 9 simple ways to bump up your activity level and burn calories.
1. Take yourself off cruise control.
Increase the intensity of your everyday tasks, from vacuuming to walking the dog. Turn on some music, add in some vigorous bursts, and enjoy the movement.
2. Step up and then step down.
Climbing stairs is a great leg strengthener, because you’re lifting your body weight against gravity. In addition to taking the stairs at every opportunity, try stepping up and down on the curb while you’re waiting for the bus or filling your gas tank.
3. Put a pen between your shoulder blades.
You’ll burn calories and look thinner when you stand tall. To improve posture, perform the following shoulder girdle crunch: Stand or sit with your arms relaxed at your sides, palms facing forward. Visualize a pen placed vertically between your shoulder blades, and squeeze them together as if you were trying to hold the pen in place. Hold for a count of 6, relax, and repeat 12 times.
4. Think of bags as dumbbells.
When you let someone else load your groceries or carry your suitcase, you’re missing a great opportunity for strengthening and calorie burning. Carry your groceries, balanced with a bag in each hand, even if you have to make several trips. And pack two smaller suitcases instead of one big one, so you can carry them yourself.
5. Have a ball.
Replace your desk chair with a giant exercise ball. You have to engage the core muscles to maintain stability, so you’re getting a great workout right at your desk.
6. Go the distance.
Stop using the closest rest room, parking space, or vending machine. Get in the habit of taking the longest route to the rest room (on a different floor, if that’s possible) and climb stairs to get there.
7. Do chair-robics.
Set a timer to ring hourly. When it goes off, stand up, and sit down slowly four times. This will boost circulation and give you a nice stretch, and you’ll be doing 4 squats an hour, or 32 a day. That’s a great way to strengthen your lower body.
8. Play waiting games.
Don’t just sit there while your computer is downloading or the copier is collating. Do a stretch (place both hands behind your head, open your elbows, and lean back), try balancing on one leg, or do a few buttocks squeezes.
9. Other little ways to burn more calories.
- Gardening and Mowing
- Wash and wax your car instead of going to a car wash
- Shop at the mall instead of online
- Vacuum and iron instead of a cleaning service
- Walk the dog for 30 minutes, not just letting her out the back door
- Skip the drive-thru window – Park and walk inside
- Rake leaves, do not use a blower
- Walk to the bus stop instead of asking for a ride
- Stand while talking on the phone
- Walk up three flights of stairs, do not use the elevator or escalators
- Wash and chop vegetables, do not buy pre-packaged, pre sliced boxes
- Park in the first spot you see, don’t find the closest one