How to Burn Calories When You Can't Work Out

Household chores burn calories.

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Although exercise is one way to rev your metabolic engine to help with weight management, it isn't the only way. If you are unable to fit in a formal workout, you aren't doomed to a stodgy metabolic rate. Burn calories all day by just moving more, and you may actually be healthier than your friend who religiously attends cycle class four times per week. A March 2012 issue of the "Archives of Internal Medicine" published a study of more than 200,000 people, finding that prolonged sitting -- even if these people exercised formally daily -- increased the risk of early death. Stand, fidget and walk short distances more often and burn up to 800 to 1,000 more calories per day, according to Mayo Clinic researcher James Levine.

Working in an Office Workout


Park at the farthest possible point in the parking lot or get off the bus a few stops early and walk the extra blocks.


Propose "walk and talk" meetings. Take phone calls while standing or pacing. Walk to lunch.


Give your assistant a break: Get your own coffee and make your own copies.


Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Make it a point to visit colleagues whose desks are across the office.

Get Moving at Home


Fire the housekeeper and gardener and do your own chores. Vacuum, sweep, scrub, dust, mow the lawn and trim the bushes. Cook dinner instead of picking up takeout.


Get up every hour and take a brief walk around your home or the block. Set a timer to keep yourself on track.


Do your nightly family "catch-up" while walking -- invite your kids or your significant other.

Keep Busy Running Errands


Choose the stairs over the escalator or elevator. Carry your own bags instead of accepting assistance.


Do a once through of the store before you shop. You'll get an idea of what you want to buy and cover extra steps, which helps burn calories.


Opt out of sitting and stand while waiting at the post office, mechanic's or doctor's office. Walk around at the airport or subway station.


  • If your doctor has recommended you avoid exercise for a medical reason, consult with him before you add significant daily activity.