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Whether you were active before the pandemic or not, chances are your activity level decreased tremendously in 2020. Either due to sickness, work from home initiatives, gym closures, or just the unbearable stress from all sides, our priorities shifted last year.
Thing is, though, physical exercise does more than keep us fit. Working out flushes toxins through our sweat, boosts our feel-good hormones, improves our posture, and releases stress, among other things.
Exercise isn’t just what “in-shape” people do, it’s something we all need.
When we are young, we have more opportunities to be active. Team sports, bike rides, beach trips… As we get older, we tend to slow down not just because our metabolisms decline, but because we have less time or reason to be up and on our feet.
Personally, I have always been active. I lifted weights in high school, played sports recreationally, went hiking, and joined boxing classes during the week. I hate saying it as past tense. But unfortunately, with the lockdowns, turning 30, and then the milestone of marriage, I’ve been struggling to maintain a regular workout routine.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you are trying to lose weight. Maybe you’ve never liked exercise and don’t plan on changing that, but you want to feel better about yourself.
Most people feel limited to traditional workout methods. But you don’t need a full home gym setup. You definitely do not have to pay a monthly gym membership if you just aren’t ready for that. You also do not have to sweat your little heart out running for miles.
You just need some motivation, accountability, and possibly an idea of where to start!
Below, I have outlined some creative ways to burn calories throughout your day, whether you’re at home, in the office, or out and about.
If you regularly work remotely due to company changes or you have always been a stay-at-home mom, you know how difficult it is to find motivation to move more than you have to for a bathroom break.
However, many basic, everyday activities actually double as creative ways to burn calories.
All of these fun facts and numbers below are based on a 150 lb. person. If you weigh more, your incinerated calories will actually increase.
More importantly, many of these activities can be done on a lunch break or while the kids are napping. You might already be doing them and not know it!
See how many of these you can cross off in one day:
First off, stretching is an important part of your daily health. As a general rule, you will burn 100 calories for every 6 minutes you spend stretching your limbs and keeping your muscles loosened up.
Depending how boldly you can belt it, singing in the shower (or anywhere) can burn between 10-20 calories per song. Remember to sing from your diaphragm to engage your core. Professional voice lessons not necessary!
Do you play an instrument? You might want to consider picking it up as a new hobby.
Playing the guitar for 30 minutes will help you shed 100 calories. That is, once you build up the callouses on your fingertips to be able to play for that duration.
Is Zumba still a thing? You don’t need choreography, just your favorite tunes and comfortable shoes, because one hour of dancing burns at least 200 calories. Of course, this could take place outside the home too, as a date night idea (more of those here).
Jumping Rope and/or Boxing
Unless you’re training to be the next Rocky Balboa, chances are you won’t be jumping rope for an hour. But if you do, you can burn about 900 calories! Here’s an inexpensive 2-pack in case you can convince your spouse to join you.
Alternatively, boxing is also an amazing total body workout you can do at home. Even if you don’t have a boxing bag (like this free standing one) or gloves, shadow boxing in a mirror with light dumbbells is just as effective.
Planting season starts now in Phoenix. If you think this might be the year you try your hand at gardening, or you simply want a few flowers added around your property, may as well make it a workout. Working the soil will cost you about 100 calories in 20 minutes.
Everyday chores like vacuuming, doing the dishes, or scrubbing floors and windows can be creative ways to burn calories, as well. Although, the time and effort put into each chore will determine how many calories your body zaps.
Try to be mindful of your muscles during each task. Tighten your core, balance on one leg at a time, and either repeat or hold certain straining movements. For example, do calf raises whenever you reach up into your cabinet (unless that’s just a short girl thing).
Mommas, you will probably think it should be more, but science says you burn close to 100 calories by carrying your child for 30 minutes. There’s a good chance you’re carrying your child around for longer than that most days, anyway. #MomFlex
Have any walls and rooms in dire need of a refresh? Painting the home or furniture, especially while standing, burns a minimum of 200 calories per hour.
After all your stretching, chores, carrying kids, dancing around the house, and singing, you might be ready for a power nap. Science says go for it! An hour nap alone burns about 50 calories, not to mention all the other benefits napping offers.
Still commuting to the office? Cubicle life is a lot lonelier than it once was. Here are a few creative ways to burn calories but also break out of the workday funk and mid-afternoon slump.
· Now that the weather is tolerable, pry yourself away from the keyboard and count your steps around your building. Write this on a post-it on your monitor: Stroll, don’t scroll. Instead of scrolling through personal emails or Pinterest, head outside on your lunch break. If you work from home, take a walk with the dog or march up and down your stairs a few times.
· Invest in a standing desk or regularly stand up and stretch while working at a regular desk. Sitting on a stabilizing fitness ball is also a creative way to burn calories while you are on the clock.
· Set an alarm on your phone or watch to do various exercises. For example, at 12:30 every weekday my phone tells me to do squats for a minute. Then, at 2 PM, I do jumping jacks or push-ups for another full minute. Meetings might conflict, so plan accordingly. You don’t want to be that guy.
Out and about
· Did you know, ice skating can burn up to 600 calories an hour? Same goes for rollerblading, if that’s more your style. However, you have to actually be pumping your legs and arms for it to count. Coasting is cheating!
· Head to a comedy club for your next date night and laugh until you cry. Laughing can burn about two to four calories per minute.
· Believe it or not, the human body burns more calories while in cold temperatures than in hot ones. Your metabolism kicks into a higher gear to keep the body warm. If you needed another reason to be happy it is finally fall in Phoenix, there you have it! Ideas: meander through the Desert Botanical Gardens or the Phoenix Zoo. Holiday light displays should be kicking off any day now.
How to squeeze in more exercise during the day
Science says small energy bursts that raise your heart rate boost your metabolism and aid in burning extra calories throughout the day. These random, high intensity activities condition the heart as well.
· Always take the stairs. Pretend the escalator and elevators don’t work or aren’t even there!
· Park farther away from the door or your final destination to get more steps in.
· Tighten your core and correct your posture if you start to slouch. The more mindful you are, the more improvement your muscle structure will see.
· If you do take a walk, try to take it on solid ground, like a hike. Walking on packed earth burns 7% more calories than walking on pavement. Your joints will thank you later, too.
· Three letters: DIY. Whether it’s washing the car or the dog, changing the oil in your car, hauling your own groceries, trimming your own trees and weeding your yard, rearranging furniture, building or installing something, try tackling it yourself. These somewhat out-of-the-ordinary tasks work different muscle groups. Plus, you’ll save money and burn calories!
Remember, consistency is key. Like anything, the more you do something, the stronger and more efficient you become.
If you can build muscle, they will burn calories for you while you are sedentary. But getting there takes persistence.
Staying active and repeating certain exercises has proven to produce results.
Ever wake up with sore muscles and wonder what you did to cause it? Maybe you went bowling for the first time in a while or chopped wood on a camping trip. Whatever it was, you worked out a muscle group that isn’t accustomed to exercise. That’s a good thing!
But one-off exercises will not build muscle and routinely burn fat. Working out, or burning calories in creative ways, isn’t an excuse to eat whatever you fancy, either.
Keep in mind, being active is only about 10% of the weight loss process. The rest is a good nutritious diet and adequate rest. Exercise does assist your overall mindset toward a healthy lifestyle, though.
Generally, if you are mindful of your daily movement quota and quality, you are more likely to make healthier choices at meal times, too.
You still want to drink water (half your body weight in ounces) more than any other beverage. I tote this rose quartz colored gallon water bottle with me every day. Use Liquid IV or a fruit infuser to make your H20 more interesting, if you must.
I also recommend an accountability strategy. Tell your spouse or friends your fitness goals, or better yet, convince them to join you.
Above all, be kind to yourself. Your body accomplishes so many feats every day just keeping you alive. All it asks in return is some TLC, including, but not limited to, some fun exercise and activities!
You may not see immediate results after incorporating some of these creative ways to burn calories, but the hope is that you create lasting habits. You don't have to overexert your body, but challenging yourself to do a little more than you did the day before is a good place to start.