First let me start this by saying that I personally love the gym and I think it can be a great addition to your daily life for many reasons, but it is way more important to be active during the day rather than to save all of your energy for a short workout. I always tell my patients that I’d rather them be more active throughout the day then go to the gym. Sure that one hour workout class will burn lots of calories and boost your metabolic rate, but it matters even more how active you are for the rest of the day because that is where the bulk of your calories burned are coming from.
Below lists the top ways to burn tons of calories without even having to step foot in a gym:
1. Stand rather than sit
Standing burns more calories than sitting because you have to engage and activate many muscles to keep yourself upright. Most individuals will burn anywhere from about 20 to 50 calories more an hour standing rather than sitting. So lets think about that, say you usually sit for 5 hours at your desk and then you switch to standing for 5 hours. That could mean an additional 100 to 250 calories just from standing! That’s equivalent to running 1 to 3 miles. Read more here and here that looked at the effect of sitting versus standing and energy expenditure.
2. Park farther away
Always park farther away from your destination because this means you will have to walk more, meaning you burn more calories! Walking to and from your destination from a farther destination definitely adds up. You can apply this same principle with public transportation – get off a stop earlier and walk.
3. If your destination is within one mile, walk to it
Walking to your destination that is a mile away will probably take close to the same amount of time as it would be to drive. Think about all that goes into driving – you have to find your keys, back out of your garage, find a parking spot, and walk from your car to the destination. Instead of having to deal with the car, just walk! And burn 200 + calories walking home and back.
4. Add fiber to every meal
Fiber is indigestible, meaning you won’t absorb calories from fiber and fiber may even prevent you from absorbing calories of other foods. Your body will also expend more energy just from trying to digest fiber! High fiber foods include chia seeds, flax seeds, raspberries, and nuts.
5. Eat protein at each meal
Due to the thermic effect of food, you lose up to 30% of calories just from digesting protein. So say you take 100 calories of protein, you may only absorb 70 of those calories! Aim to get protein at every meal, and go for complete proteins such as eggs and fish.
6. Walk like a New Yorker
I always advise people to walk like you are going to be late because you’ll burn more calories doing so! When you walk faster your heart rate goes up and you engage more muscles causing you to burn more energy. It will also save you time which is an added bonus.
7. Listen to upbeat music
Listen to upbeat music when you are walking, when you are at work, basically whenever you can. Music can make you move more from involuntary movements such as tapping your foot or moving your arms, this adds up! Music also boosts mood and energy and can prevent you from feeling sluggish.
8. Wear an activity monitor
Make it a game to see how many calories you can burn and how far you can walk per day. Tracking devices are an awesome way to see how small changes you make lead to bigger results. You can see which days you were less active and try to determine why that was and how you could change it. You can also see the days you were more active and why you were more active that day and think back on how you felt that day. We love the Apple watch in particular because it tracks heart rate, calories burned, and total steps each day and we can look at each day, week, or month and see how active we were and how we did with our fitness goals and how we can improve.
9. Cook your meals rather than ordering delivery
Using your thumbs to order delivery uses about zero calories. When you are cooking and prepping your meals, it takes energy to do this! Cooking your meals also saves money and lets you control all the ingredients so you know you are getting a healthy meal.
10. Pick up around the house
You can actually burn a ton of calories just by cleaning and picking up around the house. This is because you are bending, twisting, scrubbing, you are doing a good amount of hard labor without even realizing it. The next time you want your partner to clean up around the house, tell them what a great calorie burner it is. I like wearing my activity monitor when I clean because then I see how many calories I burn doing it and it gives me extra incentive to clean when I don’t want to.
11. Get good sleep
This also means going to bed at a reasonable hour which will also prevent you from wanting to snack late at night. Sleep is when your body heals itself and helps to decrease stress in your body and allow your hormones to work properly. Lack of sleep can make you more sluggish and hungry the next day, meaning less calories burned and more calories consumed even when you don’t need to eat more. Sleep should not be seen as a luxury but an absolute necessity to optimal health.
12. Eat prebiotics
Prebiotics are food for the good bacteria in the gut. Studies have found that there are types of bacteria in the gut associated with being lean, while there are other types of bacteria in the gut that are associated with obesity. This may be due to how the good bacteria that keep you lean help to eat away some of the calories you ingest, meaning you won’t absorb a good amount of calories that you take in. Prebiotics are found in many foods including fruits and vegetables, such as asparagus, garlic, onions, bananas, and apples. Increase the amount of prebiotics in your diet to increase the good bacteria that keeps you lean and to prevent your body from absorbing and storing extra calories as fat. There is a ton of research on this, check out this one study to learn more here.
13. Carry your groceries
Carry your groceries as far as you can! If you have a market that is close enough to walk to, consider walking home with your groceries. Carrying the heavy bags coupled with walking is a great way to burn additional calories.
14. Take the stairs
This is another one you’ve probably heard before, but it’s a good one! Taking the stairs burns way more calories then taking the escalator or the elevator, and it saves you time! Tracking how many flights of stairs you climb each day is another great feature of an activity tracker.
15. Drink more water
Just drinking water can accelerate the rate you burn calories. A study found that individuals who drank two cups of water in one sitting increased their metabolic rate by 30%! Read more about this study here. Aim to get at least eight glasses of eight fluid ounces of water per day, more if you are active and working out.
16. Shop in person rather than online
Shopping is actually a great calorie burner, especially if you are shopping for clothes. Just the act of trying on clothes is an energy burner in itself, but also walking around the mall or the store can burn many calories as well.
If you can’t make it to the gym, know that there are plenty of other ways to burn just as many calories as you would have had you gone to the gym.