If sweating in a gym is not your cup of tea, you should know there’s always the alternative of burning calories by simply doing your regular everyday activities.
Pete McCall, exercise physiologist, and member of the American Council on Exercise says research shows physically active individuals burn up to 300 calories more per day than sedentary ones. He estimates an amount of one pound of weight loss over a 12 days time frame.
The “NEAT” Calorie Burning Formula
McCall explains where these extra 300 calories come from. He uses the term NEAT, which stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This encompasses everything one spends energy on while not sleeping, eating or doing sport.
“NEAT” includes many days to day activities such as walking, cleaning up the house, working in the garden, commuting by bike or even typing on your computer. Even standing is an activity that burns more calories than you’d expect.
All these activities contribute to weight loss by intensifying the metabolism. This is why people who work hard such as agriculture and factory workers tend to have higher metabolic rates than clerks, assistants or office managers who have a rather sedentary activity and lifestyle. Two people of similar size can burn a daily amount of calories differing by as much as 2000 units, exclusively as a consequence of their NEAT activities.
Calculating The Total Burn
If you do the math, you can see how NEAT calories can add up pretty quickly.
Kimberly Lummus, MS, RD, Texas Dietetic Association media representative and public relations coordinator for the Austin Dietetic Association in Austin, Texas estimates an average 150 pounds individual can burn the following number of calories in 30 minutes of activity:
Raking the garden = 147 calories
Gardening or grooming the plants = 153 calories
Moving house (packing to leave and unpacking at the destination) = 191 calories
Vacuuming the floors = 119 calories
Cleaning the dust in the house = 102 calories
Playing with the children (moderate activity intensity) = 136 calories
Mowing the lawn = 205 calories
Strolling = 103 calories
Watching TV while sitting on the couch = 40 calories
Biking for commuting = 220 calories
Trying A Gradual Increase Of Your Activity Level
A good method for increasing the number of daily calories you burn is by doing more “spontaneous physical activities” rather than spending more time exercising or jogging. The most effective method of all is to increase your standing time. The less you sit, the more calories you burn. You can try, for instance, watching TV or typing on your computer while standing. Think of all activities you do sitting and see which ones can be performed from a standing position.
McCall also gives a few tips that might give you more ideas:
Give up using the elevator and take the stairs.
Clean your house by yourself instead of hiring a maid.
Leave your car in the garage and use the bike to go to work.
Increase the number of times you take your dog out for a walk.
Buy a pedometer and monitor the number of steps you take each day. Write down the numbers and try to gradually increase until you get to 10,000 steps per day or even more. You could even launch a competition between you and other family members, to see which one can take the most steps within a given time frame. Moving can be fun!