5 Surprising Ways to Burn More Calories

A new study found that lack of leisure-time activity is making us gain. Make the most out of your downtime with these fun and inventive ways to move more every day.

July 9, 2014

With barbecues, pool parties, and fireworks on the agenda, it’s easy to use a long holiday weekend as an excuse to take a mini-break from the gym and indulge in some s’mores and hot dogs (in moderation, of course). But if your Fourth of July fiesta plans included a long walk on the beach or some competitive lawn games, you took a step in the right direction. According to new research, our lazy leisure activities may be more to blame for obesity than that deep-fried Oreo beckoning from the local fair.

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Researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that while there's been a sharp decrease in exercise and a sharp increase in BMIs over the past 20 years, caloric intake has remained steady. This suggests that it’s not what we’re eating that’s the problem -- it’s how little we’re moving. Investigators theorized that a nationwide drop in leisure-time activity, particularly in young women ages 18-39, is especially to blame for the upward obesity trend.

“The drops in active leisure times coincide with the advent of the internet, the ubiquity of connected devices that do jobs for us (think TV remotes), and the development of smartphone and web games that don't require movement,” says Valerie Orsoni, health and wellness expert and founder of weight loss program LeBootCamp. “We don’t walk to our neighbor; we call her. We don’t gather with our friends as much for a walk; we chat online instead.”

The good news: It doesn’t take much to have a more active everyday routine. Here are Orsoni’s (fun!) tips for moving more throughout the day:

Laugh out loud: Watching funny cat videos on YouTube isn't a TOTAL waste of your time. A good LOL session works your abs, increases lung capacity, and can reduce stress (a known source of belly fat) and increase cardiovascular health. 

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Walk and talk: If your BFF is miles and miles away, make that phone call -- but not from the couch! Grab your ear buds and take a walk around your neighborhood, instead.

Work out your credit card: “Even if you walk slowly in the mall or downtown, you will burn more than 100 calories every 30 minutes of shopping,” Orsoni says.

Multitask a mundane task: If you need to empty the dishwasher, don't bend -- do some squats and you’ll have toned thighs and a clean kitchen in no time. Dancing around as you dust has the same effect!


When in doubt, fidget: “Remember your mom telling you to stop fidgeting?” asks Orsoni, “She was wrong!” Fidgeting burns an average of 300 calories per day.