10 Everyday Activities You Can Use to Burn Calories

Source: sxc.hu Photo: harrykeely
Source: sxc.hu Photo: harrykeely

One of the things I’ve been struggling with is losing 10 pesky pounds that never seem to exactly go away. My personal trainer is encouraging me to find more ways to burn a few extra calories during the day, conceding that it’s really, really hard (especially with summer starting and my son home) for me to find a dedicated 40 minute block of time each to work out. It doesn’t help that, with the notable exception of swimming — which I can’t do each day, I hate exercise. I’m a playing outside sort of person, and I have other interests, so my trainer suggested a few things that I can do each day to burn calories.

After a little tooling around on the Internet, I found a calculator on About.com that helps you determine how many calories are burned with each activity. Most of the calorie counts come from that. It is important to note that these estimates are based on my weight (which I’m not going to share here), and actual calories burned by you depends on your weight, metabolism and other factors.

  1. Take the stairs: This one is obvious, and you’ve heard it several times. But it’s still effective. My trainer says that since I work from home, I should take a few breaks a day, when I rest my eyes from looking at the computer, or get lunch, and take five minutes to go up and down the stairs. For 10 minutes of stair climbing, you can consume 92 calories.
  2. Shopping: This may not be good for your pocketbook, but How Stuff Works points out that you can use up to 243 calories an hour just by pushing a shopping cart around. Try not to get too carried away buying things, and focus on healthy food choices.
  3. Mow the lawn: Get off the riding mower and push the mower around. If you mow for 30 minutes, you can burn 147 calories. You can burn the same amount of calories gardening, while enjoying the fresh air. If you are digging in the garden, you’ll burn even more.
  4. Laundry: Concentrate on what you are doing as you do the laundry, and consider folding clothes standing up. How Stuff Works says that you can burn 72 calories when you fold clothes for 30 minutes, and that ironing can burn off 76.5 calories in half an hour.
  5. Music practice: I was really excited that this was an option. My trainer said that practicing music can be a way to get things going. Playing the piano burns 85 calories in 30 minutes, according to the About.com calculator. Playing my guitar should also burn a few calories.
  6. Housecleaning: Not that I like housecleaning any better than exercise, but apparently it can be a good way to burn a few extra calories: 196 for 30 minutes of vacuuming, scrubbing and other similar chores.
  7. Family game night: My trainer suggests a fun game night with the family. Even a board game can help burn a few calories, since playing cards can burn 159 calories if you play for 90 minutes. You just have to be able to avoid snacks while playing.
  8. Prepare dinner: Take some time to prepare your dinner. Of course, you’ll have to make healthy dinners rather than high calorie dinners, since How Stuff Works points out you’ll only burn 74 calories during 30 minutes of meal prep.
  9. Wash the car: Clean your own car, instead of going to the car wash. You’ll burn close to 277 calories after an hour, and you could save money since you aren’t paying for someone else to do it.
  10. Toss the Frisbee: You can play with your kids and burn calories. Instead of just watch your kids, actually play with them. Frisbee toss can burn 98 calories in 30 minutes. Imagine how much you could burn if you played something even more active with your kids!

Of course, it is important to realize that just doing these activities won’t lead to 10 pounds of weight loss. I still need to exercise 20 to 30 minutes most days. The point of this list is to help me find some more “fun” (or at least bearable) activities that I can do to increase the number of calories I burn in a day, in chunks of as little as five minutes.

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