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.