8 Ways to Stay Active All Day – Fitness Center – Everyday Health

Burning calories and losing weight doesn't require an expensive gym membership. Just try some of these simple everyday activities to keep moving, and watch the pounds melt away.
Like most Americans, you probably spend a lot of time sitting — in your car, at your desk, on the couch. Even if you balance out your time in the chair with trips to the gym, research shows that too much sitting can up your risk of breast and colon cancers. Another recent study found that too much time parked in front of the TV may actually take years off your life.
Luckily, it’s easy to counteract the negative effects of sitting by simply moving more. A study published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that moderate-to-intense physical activity in sedentary children improved the kids’ waist circumference, blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and more across the board. In adults, research has found that being active can reduce your risk of colon cancer by 35 percent and breast cancer by 25 percent, and it’s never too late to make over your lifestyle.
If you’re interested in boosting your health and trimming your waistline — no gym or expensive equipment required — here are eight simple ways to bake more activity into your day. Your health will thank you.
When it comes to staying active without the gym, walking is one of the easiest, most convenient activities you can do. To burn calories, all you have to do is walk faster and devote more time to each walk. For the most benefit, use a pedometer to keep track of how much you’re walking, and slowly work up to 10,000 steps a day. “Walking more does have added value, especially when you walk briskly for a longer duration, up hills, or use your arms for more than just a comfortable gait and swing them with your body,” says Debra Gray, a fitness expert and model in Omaha, Neb. “It might not just be more that’s better, but the intensity and variety of your walking.” If you can’t walk outside where you live, try indoor walking at a nearby mall, or using a step-exercise video at home.
According to My Calorie Counter, Everyday Health’s food and exercise journal, brisk walking can burn more than 200 calories in 30 minutes, depending on your weight and the intensity of your workout.
Work is a place where many of us are sedentary for hours, and the result is a lost opportunity to burn hundreds (if not thousands) of calories every day. A stand-up desk could help change that. “Standing obviously puts more stress on the body than sitting, thus it will burn more calories,” says Rich Gaspari, a personal trainer and owner of Gaspari Nutrition. “If you stand for an entire workday, it can help increase leg strength and endurance. A little change like standing instead of sitting can go a long way.” If your workplace isn’t a stand-up kind of environment, take a five-minute break at least once an hour to engage in some activity.
Experts estimate that standing burn 50 percent more calories than sitting, so a 155-pound person could burn an extra 50 calories an hour just by getting on their feet.
If a stand-up desk isn't practical at your workplace, there are other ways to incorporate more activity into your workday, says Amanda Russell, a personal trainer in New York. “At the office, replace your chair with an exercise ball. Sitting on it forces you to stabilize your abs. Or take a break every couple hours and walk a few flights of stairs — it will help you energize and re-focus,” she says. “When you’re talking on the phone, don’t just sit there. Stand up, and pace around your room or office.”
These little changes add up: Even small amounts of movement such as drumming your legs increases your calorie burn above resting levels 20 to 40 percent.
The arrival of a new pet, especially a dog, has been shown to increase the owner’s activity levels. “Getting a pet, like a dog, will give you another reason to get out and get active,” Gray says. “Pets need activity, and actually can be your own accountability friend to get at least a short walk in daily. Even if the dog only forces you to get up and let it out without going for a walk, you will have burned more calories than if you sat in front of the television all day.”
Like walking by yourself, walking a dog can help burn around 200 calories for every half-hour of exercise.
Cleaning your home or apartment regularly is another way to ensure that you stay active during the week. “Cleaning your house can incorporate a variety of muscle groups without you even realizing it,” Gaspari says. “Dragging around a heavy vacuum isn’t an easy task, especially if you are going up and down stairs.” Gaspari recommends going a step further and trying to “squeeze your buns every time you take a step.” While you’re taking a break, try tightening your abdominal muscles for a period of time throughout each hour, he adds.
A 150-pound person can burn 85 calories per half hour through light cleaning, while vigorous cleaning burns 102 calories in 30 minutes.
Most people don’t think of cooking as exercise, but preparing food at home certainly burns more calories — and usually causes you to consume fewer calories — than eating out or ordering in. “The best way to control what goes in your mouth is to plan ahead and have a home-cooked meal,” Gray says. “This way, you know exactly what went into your meal, and I guarantee it can be prepared faster and less expensively than making that extra stop at a restaurant. Do your shopping and cooking on days when you have more time. That way, you’ll have the meal on hand and can resist the temptation of unhealthy choices.”
Plus, thanks to activity such as standing, light lifting, and chopping, a 150-pound person can blast 78 calories in 30 minutes of cooking.
A coffee shop or bar is often where friends catch up. Instead of a sedentary get-together, though, why not switch to an activity that burns calories, like walking, dancing, or a Zumba class with a gab-fest afterward? “Rather than another night of drinks, which will pack on empty calories and likely lead to overeating later, suggest a walk outside with your girlfriends or opt for a yoga class and tea date,” she says.
Of these activities, dancing is the big calorie burner, zapping more than 200 calories for every half-hour on the floor.
Who says you have to sit idly on the couch during your favorite shows? Russell says you can make big strides by simply staying active. Try some jumping jacks, pushups, or other fat-blasting moves during commercial breaks. “Squeeze in exercise while watching TV or when the kids are napping,” Russell advises. “For example, aim to do two sets of push-ups and a round of abdominal exercises during commercials.”
If you want a bigger burn, keep up the light calisthenics for the whole 30-minute show, and blast 115 calories.
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