8 Ways to Burn More Calories Outside of the Gym

April 14, 2014

Dont-touch-subway-poles-1000x1000Though we know that working out is important and should be part of our daily routine, what we do before and after we leave the gym is equally important.  Research tells us that sitting may kill us, while simply fidgeting may help us burn up to an extra 350 calories each day.

Think about all the little opportunities you have every day to do things the hard way.  In our day-to-day lives we are miss chances to burn extra calories without even realizing it. 

Here’s a recent experience I had: I was riding the tram at the airport to get to a different terminal for my connecting flight.  It was a short ride, and I’d been sitting already for a couple of hours on the first flight so I decided I’d stand and “tram surf.”  After boarding, an announcement came over the speakers, “Please hold onto the handrails while the tram is in motion.” No, I did not hold the handrails.  I set my feet wide and staggered them slightly front-to-back.  As the tram began to move I used me to stay upright. (Note that I did hover my hand inches over the handrail ready to grasp it quickly if I did need to…so keep calm and read on.)  It brought an inner awareness and physical focus for just a few minutes in what is commonly a mentally unstimulating and passive experience. 

It would have been easier to sit or to stand and hold onto the handrails.  By choosing the harder way to ride the tram, I delivered a few moments of benefit to my body and mind that didn’t overwhelm me or tire me out.  This is what I want you to start doing.  Join me in doing things the hard way.

What’s the upside?  There are already an abundance of labor-saving, convenience-maximizing changes to everyday life.  We are saving time, saving labor, while losing ourselves.  And it’s taking a toll on our health and vitality.  I also know how hard is to stay in shape.  What we are learning about health and wellness is that it is just as important to consider what you do outside of your workout program.  These brief moments of doing things the hard way are great since they aren’t long enough or taxing enough to exhaust you.  They just take a moment’s choice and a little bit of effort.

Here are some ideas to get you started – please add more of your own:

  1. Handle your own luggage at the hotel.  You probably don’t need that bellhop
  2. Never, ever stand on a moving walkway
  3. Take the stairs…and take the stairs two-at-a-time if you can
  4. Make more trips up and down the stairs at home – don’t be too efficient with your home tasks
  5. Mow your lawn with a push mower
  6. Shovel your own snow if you can or use a mix of snow-thrower and show shovel
  7. Stand up whenever you text message or talk on phone
  8. Stand up whenever you take public transportation – and subject to your comfort level, try “tram surfing” as I described above (or “train surfing,” “bus surfing,” or whatever version best fits your situation.)

All these little moments of a little more effort will lead to a little more ability, balance, and functional strength.  A few extra calories get burned along the way, but the feeling of being a bit more capable in your body is immeasurable and incredibly more powerful than the impact of burning a little more fuel.  Our world increasingly moves toward convenience and we move less as a result.  Work these little micro-bursts of effort into your day and you’ll feel better and more capable in no time.

Jonathan Ross — fitness expert for Discovery Fit & Health and creator of Aion Fitness — was voted Exercise TV's "Top Trainer" and named in Men's Journal magazine's list of Top 100 Trainers in America. His personal experiences with obesity — "800 pounds of parents" — directly inspired his fitness career. His ability to bring fitness to those who need it the most has made him a two-time Personal Trainer of the Year Award-Winner (ACE and IDEA). His book, Abs Revealed, is filled with cutting-edge exercises in a modern, intelligent approach to abdominal training. His leadership and fresh perspectives on fitness earn him praise as a frequent go-to source of credible fitness information.


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