Life often gets too busy to squeeze in a good workout alongside all our errands and household chores. Luckily, checking those items off our to-do list already helps us burn a ton of calories without ever hitting the gym. Known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), these daily activities go a long way to keep us in shape and avoid health issues like heart disease.
The Mayo Clinic explains that simple things like walking, standing, and even fidgeting could add up to melting an extra 2,000 calories throughout the day. Of course, it depends on how sedentary we are on a regular basis and can vary based on our particular body types. In any case, the organization suggests implementing more NEAT movements in our daily lives.
It can be as easy as stepping away from your desk while working to take short breaks and get a few extra steps in. Adjusting workspaces so you’re more likely to get up can help, like moving the printer to a different room if you work from home or farther away from the main workspace in an office. That way, you’re getting a mini workout every time you pick up a print. You might also consider investing in a standing desk or desk convertor to lessen your amount of time sitting.
Non-office jobs, like standing to give lessons as a teacher or running around a restaurant to cook and serve food, offer more opportunities for movement. Outside of work, you might be surprised by how many calories you can rack up with household chores.
Here are some of common daily activities the Mayo Clinic claims burn 200 calories or more:
- Grocery shopping
- Hanging pictures
- Climbing stairs
- Playing fetch with the dog
- Mowing the lawn
- Raking leaves
- Shoveling snow
- Washing the car
They also recommend twists on more sedentary behavior, like hopping on a treadmill as you watch TV or walking around the house while you enjoy a long chat on the phone.
The clinic sums it up: “By avoiding sitting, promoting motion, and engaging in simple, repetitive, and creative activities, a significant amount of extra calories may be expended that can reduce weight and perhaps prevent the cardiovascular and metabolic complications associated with obesity.”
It’s definitely something to keep in mind the next time you guilt yourself over skipping a workout. You might be burning a lot more calories in a day than you give yourself credit for — without even trying!