It’s common sense that the more you move, the more calories you burn.
But just how much movement does it really take to make a difference?
And is it really possible to boost your metabolism by increasing simple daily activity?
James Levine, M.D., who heads the NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) lab at the Mayo Clinic, found that the average individual can burn up to 350 extra calories a day just by moving more.
For the average person, that’s equivalent to walking at a moderate pace for about an hour and a half. And since 1 pound of body weight equals about 3,500 calories, you could potentially lose 1 pound every 10 days if you add NEAT activities to your daily routine and keep your food intake and exercise levels the same. ~Neatlift.com
On the The Doctors TV show, they recently illustrated this fact by monitoring the number of calories one lady burned in a day simply by using Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.
The simple activities she did throughout the day that burned more calories than usual:
- Walked to speak to co-workers, rather than sending e-mail
- Stood up when taking phone calls, rather than sitting in a chair
- Parked farther away, rather than looking for the closest parking spot
- Balanced on one leg while brushing her teeth
- Stood up and washed dishes by hand, rather using the dishwasher
She ended up burning 700 more calories!
How? By simply being aware of what she was doing and how much or how little she was moving at the time.
That’s great news, don’t you think?
Just as the calories you put into your mouth really add up quickly, so do the calories you burn simply by being conscious of what you’re doing.
So, it’s clear that you can easily burn calories without going to the gym. (Thank goodness, because who has time to go to the gym?!)
By choosing the slightly more physical way of performing all of the little things that you do on a daily basis, you will inevitably burn more calories and lose more weight.
In addition to the findings revealed by the Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis lab at the Mayo Clinic, the University of Missouri at Columbia discovered that simply standing for an extended period of time helps leg muscles produce a fat-burning enzyme called lipoprotein lipase.
Yep, something as simple as standing burns more calories than sitting does!
Some interesting facts about standing vs sitting:
- Standing burns 60 calories an hour. Standing for 8 hours a day is enough exercise to lose approximately 1 pound of weight a week.
- Standing raises HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels an average of 22% — which is more than most statin medications.
- The benefits of standing don’t require any additional work. Just standing in place burns calories, burns fat, and lowers blood sugars!
Research also shows that, even with moderate forms of traditional exercise, you are at higher risk for obesity and elevated blood pressure when you spend most of your days sitting down on the job and your nights doing sedentary activities at home (like watching TV or typing on the computer).
The time you spend sitting in a chair is keeping your body’s fat-burning in park!
So, to counteract a sedentary lifestyle, you need to get moving on a daily basis — not just on “gym days”.
Here are some fun ideas…
How To Move More At Work
Even if you sit at a desk most of day, there are ways to boost your activity level:
- As long as you feel safe, park your car at the far end of the parking lot. Better yet: walk or bike to work!
- Use stairs instead of elevators and escalators whenever possible.
- Visit with co-workers the old-fashioned way by walking over to their offices instead of using the phone, or email, or texting.
- Stand at your desk whenever possible.
- While you are on the computer, sit on a stability therapy ball that allows your knees to stay at a 90-degree angle when seated.
- Move the phone and wastebasket farther away from your desk so you have to physically get up and walk over them.
- When you have breaks, burn some serious calories by doing leg lifts or using small weights right at your desk.
- Replace lunches out with healthy brown bag meals followed by a stroll around the office complex.
- Whenever the phone rings, stand (or pace) the entire time you’re talking, rather than sit.
- During down time fidget, twitch, tap your toes & fingers.
- Play with rubber bands or a stress ball.
How To Move More At Home
On average, 20 steps burn off 1 calorie. Though this may not sound like much, once you get moving, you’ll really see a difference.
Chores are a daily activity that you can’t avoid, but turning them into a workout can burn more calories and even boost your cardio strength!
Some ways to move more at home:
- Fold clothes, mop the floors, or vacuum more rapidly. Try to complete such household chores in half the time.
- Walk up and down the stairs as often as possible, and (unless you have back problems) carrying grocery bags, laundry baskets, and even pets can really help increase the calorie burn.
- Hold a child to burn more calories while standing.
- Make it a habit to walk your dog more regularly — even if it’s only 20 minutes a day. If you don’t have a dog, borrow your neighbors.
- While you’re cleaning, put on some music and clean to the beat. This works great when sweeping, vacuuming, dusting!
- Play more with your kids.
- Use hand-powered kitchen gadgets instead of electric ones.
- Put the remote control away and get up to change the channel on the TV each time.
- Instead of sitting down and relaxing, pace the room whenever possible.
- Strive to keep all weeds out of your garden. The constant squatting and reaching tones muscles as well as burns calories.
- Mow the lawn (using a push mower).
- Move your treadmill into the TV room. At least you’ll be moving while watching TV!
- After dinner, go for a walk.
How To Move More When You’re Out & About
Yep, you can even move more — and faster — while doing something you love: shopping!
Here are some tips to boost the calorie burn while you’re out and about:
- Instead of looking for the closest parking space, choose one that’s farther away and requires you to walk more.
- Stand instead of sitting in waiting rooms and reception areas.
- Carry your small child in your arms rather than using a stroller all the time.
- When shopping, you’ll burn even more calories if you take a little power walk around the mall before heading into stores.
- Do Kegel exercises (where you tightly tense the muscles that interrupt the flow of urine) while sitting or driving.
- Use the stairs instead of opting for the escalator or elevator whenever you can.
- When you’re buying just a few items at the grocery store, carry a basket instead of pushing a cart.
- Laugh til your heart’s content. Laughter increases energy expenditure by as much as 20%.
Ways To Make It Fun!
To keep motivated to move more and burn more calories throughout the day, it’s got to be fun.
Here are a few ways to make burning calories fun on a daily basis:
- Learn to enjoy regular walks around your neighborhood — rain or shine.
- If you have kids or grandkids who love to ride bikes, join them.
- Sign up for a walk-a-thon and have some serious fun while raising money for your favorite charity.
- Even if you’re not athletic, boost activity by playing a game of volleyball, miniature golf, or badminton.
- When planning a night out, opt for dancing or bowling instead of sitting in a movie.
- Turn a single trip into 2 or more trips (walking up & down the stairs, or carrying groceries from the car)
- Even the act of moving yourself back & forth in a swing or rocking chair burns calories!
In the end, it is the small but sustained changes in your daily activities that profoundly affect your energy level and the number of calories you burn each day.
For most people, NEAT accounts for about 30% of physical activity calories spent daily, but NEAT can run as low as 15% in sedentary individuals and as high as 50% in highly active individuals. Source
More NEAT Ways To Burn Calories
- Calorie Cheats: Fun Ways To Burn Calories
- Non-Exercise Activity Thermogensis
- Calorie Calculator: See How Many Calories You Burn Doing Everyday Things
- 8 Ways To Burn Calories Without Working Out
- Secrets Of Thin People: How They Got There & Stay There
- Treadmill Desks: Burn Calories While You’re Working!
- The Real Stuff You Do All Day Could Add Up To Real Weight Loss
- Sitting Is The New Smoking: They’re Both Equally Bad For You
Professionally, I pursued my Masters Degree in Family Therapy at Texas Tech — where I obtained invaluable expertise and experience helping people with a wide variety of physical and emotional health issues. Personally, I think it's useful when people realize that they're not the only one going through a difficult time. So any time that I think my personal health experiences would be helpful to someone else going through the same thing, I will share my story here. With health issues that I've personally experienced (like Endometriosis, Lyme Disease, Hysterectomy, Skin Cancer, Ganglion Cysts, Autism, and other topics that very few people enjoy talking about) and health products that I've found beneficial (like sleep aids, essential oils, and medications)… I do my best to provide my own raw and honest firsthand experiences that I think others would appreciate hearing about and (hopefully) find helpful. I'm grateful that I have a number of friends who have also been willing to share their very personal stories here — regarding their own physical and emotional health. When I'm not writing about health topics, you will find me sharing Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).