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5 Ways to Burn Calories without Exercising

Learn five ways to burn more calories without actually heading to the gym for a workout.

By
Ben Greenfield,
May 2, 2011
Episode #047

Have you ever met a trim, fit person who seems to stay that way even though they don’t exercise any more than you do?

5 Ways to Burn Calories without Exercising

One of the secrets of efficiently staying lean is learning how to burn more calories without actually exercising. So in this article, you’ll learn 5 ways to burn calories without actually heading to the gym for a workout.

Calorie Burning Tip #1: Stand

Your fat burning enzymes and metabolism are more active when you’re standing, and you can burn up to a few hundred extra calories per day by avoiding the sitting position.

Though you don’t have to convert your desk into a treadmill workstation, you should certainly attempt to stand whenever you have the option, such as when you’re waiting in line to renew your driver’s license, waiting at the dentist’s or doctor’s office, waiting for your plane to board, talking on the phone, or surfing the Internet. As a bonus, if you happen to have low back pain, you may find that it nearly disappears when you begin standing more!

Calorie Burning Tip #2: Twitch

Studies have found that people who constantly move burn more calories. That seems obvious but many people don't realize that constantly moving includes activities like

  • tapping your feet,

  • drumming your fingers,

  • standing up,

  • sitting down,

  • moving your head in circles,

  • shrugging your shoulders,

  • clinching your butt, and

  • even rolling your eyes!

These movements may seem to incorporate only small and insignificant muscle contractions but every time a muscle fiber moves it uses energy and increases your body's temperature and metabolism.

It's true that larger muscle fibers burn more calories, but when you're attempting to elevate the metabolism, even the tiny boosts from smaller muscle fibers will help. If you're trying to lose or maintain weight or just keep your metabolism elevated, make sure that you're twitching and fidgeting as much as possible. Employing even these small movements while you're riding on the bus, watching television or even eating breakfast will make a big difference in your metabolism.
 

Calorie Burning Tip #3: Park Poorly

How many of us cruise around a busy restaurant ten times trying to find a prime parking spot? In reality, parking farther away and then walking four or five blocks, even if it's in a suit or dress, isn't really that bad. You'll not only burn calories and get a little exercise on your way to your meal, but research has proven you store less fat from a large meal if you go for a brief jaunt afterwards.

If you really want to burn more calories without exercising, you should never be looking for the best parking spot. Instead, find the most undesirable parking spot imaginable--up a hill, down an alley, and through the bushes. Huff and puff your way to and from dinner using all that extra oxygen to burn calories and watch the pounds melt away.

Calorie Burning Tip #4: Touch Your Toes

Let's face it, sometimes exercise is difficult, especially in the morning when you've just crawled out of bed or in the evening after you've finished an exhausting day of work. This is where a simple stretching program can be quite effective. Though the importance of stretching has been acknowledged for injury prevention and joint flexibility improvement, it is also an easy form of exercise that enhances blood flow and respiration while burning calories. Granted, you burn far fewer calories while stretching when compared with aerobic or resistance training exercises, but stretching is a great alternative when you just don't have the gusto or motivation for a more intense workout.

For an effective stretching program, first perform 20 reps of each of the following:

  • arm circles,

  • straight leg swings,

  • bent leg kicks,

  • toe touches,

  • torso twists,

  • head circles, and

  • wrist circles.

Then move on to a standing hamstring stretch, a standing quadriceps stretch, a calf stretch, a "reach for the sky" chest stretch, and a shoulder blade "squeeze" with the hands clasped behind the back.

Not only will you burn calories without a high rate of exertion, but after a good stretch, you may find you actually have the energy for something more vigorous!

Calorie Burning Tip #5: Breathe

When performed properly, the rhythmic contractions of the abdominal blood vessels during inhaling and exhaling help to circulate blood through the body, enhancing oxygen uptake and metabolic rate. As you inhale, your diaphragm expands and squeezes the blood out of your internal organs and blood vessels. Then as you exhale, the diaphragm relaxes as new blood rushes in. So as a simple method of boosting the metabolism, focus on deep breathing from the stomach--and not just during a stretch or exercise routine but also while you're driving in your car or sitting at your desk.

Try this: inhale slowly through your nose, hold for a 1 count, then exhale through your mouth. The breath should originate from the back of the throat and finish from deep inside the stomach. Once you've practiced and perfected this form of breathing, it can become a natural mechanism for burning more calories without exercising.

There are certainly more ways to burn calories without exercising, but these 5 tips will make an enormous difference in your ability to keep your metabolism elevated!

Workout image courtesy of Shutterstock

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