While exercise is the most effective way to burn calories, we burn calories doing everything: from breathing, to digesting to simply growing. Every little bit counts, so small decisions throughout your day can have big results. Here are a few sneaky things you can do outside the gym that will add up to some serious burnage.
1. Don't sit still! If you're a nervous leg bouncer or pencil tapper, you're in luck. On average, fidgeting can burn between 300-350 extra calories per day, though that number will vary widely depending on your fave form of fidgeting. (For example: pacing will burn more calories than table drumming.)
2. Laugh...a lot! According to a Vanderbilt University Medical Center study, "Ten to 15 minutes of laughter could increase energy expenditure by 10 to 40 calories per day, which could translate into about four pounds a year."
3. Spice it up! Research shows that chili peppers can boost your metabolic rate, causing the body to burn 50 more calories a day.
4. Chomp away! Chewing gum burns roughly 11 calories an hour. Make sure you use sugarless to avoid added calories and cavities. Extra credit for walking at the same time.
5. Clean up! Don't groan at your to-do list, thank it: light housework like dusting and laundry burns 170 calories per hour. Tackle bigger chores like washing the car or cleaning the gutters and up your burn to 204 calories per hour.
6. Shop 'til you drop! Roaming the aisles and swiping the credit card is more taxing than you think. The typical grocery shopping trip incinerates 156 calories per hour. Up that burn even more by parking far away from the store, carrying your groceries to the car yourself, and multiple trips to bring them inside. Just don't ruin that burn by filling your cart with junk.
7. Drink up! According to Men's Health, drinking eight pints of ice water a day will cause your body to expend 123 calories of heat to warm that water to body temperature. When it comes to water, the colder, the better.
8. Get it on! The average bed-session will burn 88 calories per hour, but you can send that number sky high by putting on a better show.
9. Just dance! Just 20 minutes of dancing can burn 100 calories. If you don't have the smoothest of moves, just turn down the shades, crank up the tunes and go nuts!
Although these are great little FYIs, they still do not take the place of intentional exercise. Mix in a few of these everyday calorie burners with a regular workout, however, and you'll be a calorie blasting machine.
Editor's Not: Calorie burns are based on 150 pound woman.
Kelly Turner is a Seattle-based ACE-certified personal trainer and professional fitness writer. She began writing after becoming frustrated with the confusing and conflicting fitness information in the media and the quick-fix, gimmick-centered focus of the fitness industry itself. Her no-nonsense, practical advice has been featured on DietsInReview.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Yahoo! Shine, and she has a regular fitness column in The Seattle Times. Kelly has her own blog at www.kellyturnerfitness.com or follow her on Twitter @KellyTurnerFit.