Sneaky Ways to Add Activity to Your Day to Burn Calories


Have you ever driven to the gym, or taken the train (as my fellow New Yorkers do)? You have officially defeated the purpose.

The gym is not the only place that you can have a great workout.

I have always endorsed dance classes (get them here on Amazon), videos, and even FIT TV, as great sources for heart thumping exercise. But there are also some sneaky ways to add extra activity to your day, without too much effort.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy burned for all non-sleeping, non-eating, and sports-like activities.

NEAT is important because increasing your non-exercise activity can make a huge dent in your “calories out” part of the weight-loss equation.

As you know, a calorie deficit is necessary for you to lose weight. The calorie deficit becomes easier to achieve and easier to maintain over time.

NEAT allows you to burn more calories without breaking down your body with excessive exercise.

NEAT Study

Several studies have demonstrated that those who gain weight over time have had a decrease in NEAT as their lifestyle has changed, so researchers wanted to see if this decrease has affected their resting metabolic rate (RMR).

In the study, 15 adults wore an activity monitor on their wrist for 10 consecutive days, which monitored energy expenditure in different activities.

The results they found were that compared with an age-matched control group, the NEAT of the participants was decreased by about 60 minutes per day.

This decrease in NEAT was matched by a 2% decrease in RMR after controlling for body composition and hormones.

So for those of us who have gained weight or would like to think we can gain weight, this study tells us that we may be able to boost our RMR by increasing our NEAT.

How is this done?

Here Are Some NEAT Ideas

•    Stand as often as possible (at work, home, etc.)

•    Instead of driving to work consider taking a bike or bus

•    If you have a desk job get a standing desk

•    Take the stairs instead of the escalator and lift (if possible)

•    Park your car in a parking space far from the doors

•    Take a walk break at work

•    Increase social interactions, they will increase your NEAT and you may make new friends!

Just like any exercise, the more you do NEAT activities the easier it is to continue implementing them into your lifestyle.

NEAT can be an easy way to burn off excess calories and boost metabolism without breaking down your body with excessive exercise.  This study shows that maintaining a set point weight could be as simple as increasing your daily activity at a minimum of 10 minutes and up to 1 hour per day.

Even though much is known about NEAT, there are still many unanswered questions. However, the results suggest that if you want to increase your RMR it may be worth spending some time to assess what opportunities for increasing NEAT exist in your daily routines.

The results also suggest that while you may be able to increase your RMR, you will not maintain this increased RMR if your NEAT continues to decrease.

Non-Exercise Activity to Burn More Calories

The following tips have been part of my day no matter what. Start slow and try something new every day and soon they will be part of your lifestyle.

Walk or Bike To Work

City dwellers have absolutely no excuse for this one. You could not imagine how effective this is in kick starting some weight loss.

The beauty of it is it is not only effective but it gets you where you have to go anyway.

Forget crammed subways or tons of traffic: walk, walk, walk. If it is too hurried to walk to work, then walk from work to home.

A bike (get our pick here on Amazon) is also a fun and versatile form of calorie burning transportation.

Burn Calories Doing Chores

When you are running errands you generally tend to carry things, packages, groceries, etc.

Use this extra weight while walking to intensify your walk. Don’t take shortcuts, walk with your groceries.

You should see me on my days off; I look like a pack mule!

It’s not cute but it works.

All those tedious chores at the house can be spiced up with some base blasting music and a mop.

Whether its meringue (like me) or 80’s music, find what you love and have a blast.

Dance your way through the house from chore to chore. Time will fly, you have worked out and your toilet will sparkle. That sounds like a day!

I am sure that if you think about your daily routines you will be able to find more creative ways to find some activity time.

Make it part of your day and it will become a mainstay. Soon you will see some great results and have had some great fun!

Get Active During Lunch

Use your hour wisely. Instead of waiting on line at the sandwich shop, pick up your food for the week here on Amazon Fresh and prepare it on Sunday.

Use at least 15 minutes of your lunch hour to take a brisk walk, or go up and down stairs in your building.

You can even do the activity before eating your lunch so you can relax with your food in the last 45 minutes.

Others prefer to eat first and use the walk to help digestion. (You may also want to check out our portion control benefits).

Over an entire week it really adds up!

Burn Calories While Watching TV

Ahh, some downtime after work, nothing can come between you and your remote, but how about some weights?

You are too tired for some heart thumping cardio but how about something a little low-key, like a few reps with small weights, or some lunges or even some stretching. Learn more on our exercise page.

The key is sneaking some type of activity without interrupting your viewing pleasure; soon you won’t even have to think about it.

Fiorella DiCarlo RD, RDN, CDN