The energy you exert during everyday tasks is called “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” (NEAT), and Mayo Clinic researchers found that increasing those activities burns 350 extra calories a day — like taking a 45-minute spin class. Here’s how to exercise all day without breaking a sweat.
7:40 a.m. Go off-roading.
On your walk to work, take a detour through a park. Walking on uneven terrain, such as gravel, snow, dirt or grass, adds resistance and burns more calories than walking on paved sidewalks. It might even lower your blood pressure: Researchers at the Oregon Research Institute found people had better balance and lower blood pressure when walking on cobblestones compared with pavement.
11:30 a.m. Perform a posture check.
Take a moment to readjust your posture and set hourly reminders in case you’ve started to slump. “Keep your shoulders back and your head up when both sitting and standing,” says Jon-Erik Kawamoto, a personal trainer in St. John’s, Nfld. An upright posture engages core muscles and requires more energy to maintain. And when you walk, do it with purpose, he adds. “It burns extra calories and also makes you look more confident.”
2:30 p.m. Get on your feet.
“Studies show obese people sit two and a half hours longer a day compared with people in a healthy weight range,” says Jessica Power Cyr, a certified exercise physiologist in Calgary. Stand instead of sitting in waiting rooms or on public transit, and get up whenever you need to make a phone call or send a text.
5:15 p.m. Carry a basket.
When you’re stuck in line at the grocery checkout, stand on one leg or step from side to side, and shop with a basket instead of a cart, says Kawamoto. “Pushing a cart offers relatively little resistance,” he says. “Switch hands often when holding the basket, and keep yourself upright to challenge your core and improve your balance.”
8 p.m. Turn down the heat.
Researchers in the Netherlands discovered that people who are exposed to comfortable cold (around 18C) use 30 per cent more energy than those basking in warmer temperatures. You can create a similar effect by turning down the heat, says Kawamoto. “When you lower the thermostat — not to the point of shivering, but a mild cold — you burn more calories to regulate your body temperature.”
9:45 p.m. Multi-task.
Lift your feet off the floor to work your core while watching TV, and sneak in some calf raises or balancing exercises while brushing your teeth. “It’s a good way to squeeze in a little fitness when the day seems too full for anything else,” says Kawamoto. “And even the smallest non-exercise activity will add up throughout the day.”
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