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Weird ways to burn calories: Health experts reveal go-to habits that don't include sweat sessions at the gym

Losing weight may be tough, and it’s known to require discipline. 

Still, when combined with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise, there are a host of surprising ways that you can move the needle on the scale when it comes to weight loss.

“Successful weight loss is a journey that requires dedication and perseverance,” said Michael Hamlin, a Canada-based personal trainer with over 15 years of experience and founder of EverFlex Fitness.

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“While a healthy diet and regular exercise are essential, incorporating unexpected and enjoyable activities into your routine can help you burn more calories and stay motivated on the path to a happier, healthier you,” Hamlin told Fox News Digital.

healthy living split

Fitness and nutrition pros reveal their go-to ways to increase how many calories they burn without having a sweat session at the gym. Check out these 10 idiosyncratic activities. (iStock)

Ahead, 10 somewhat unusual, or perhaps little-known ways to burn more calories throughout the day.

1. Laugh more

Here’s a fun way to burn calories: “Studies have shown that laughing for just 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn up to 40 calories. When you laugh, your body’s muscles contract and expand, which increases your heart rate and oxygen consumption,” Harmlin said.

Harmlin added that laughter can cause your body to burn more calories than when you’re resting.

Happy family

Laughter can burn up to 40 calories, according to personal trainer Michael Hamlin. (iStock)

“Additionally, laughing can reduce stress levels, which can decrease the levels of the hormone cortisol in your body,” he continued, adding that high levels of cortisol have been linked to weight gain.

2. Park farther away

Andrew Blakey, head trainer At Your Future Fitness in Toronto, is a proponent of hopping off transportation farther away than your destination or parking your car in a spot where it gets you walking.

“Small habits tend to add up when it comes to weight loss,” Blakey said. “Parking further away or getting off the subway or transit a stop earlier than normal can be enough to help promote additional movement into your day,” said Blakey.

Woman walking

Consider developing the small habit of parking your car farther away from your final destination, so you can get some steps in. (iStock)

“Not only will you be getting extra steps in, you’ll also be promoting additional blood flow and oxygen to the brain which can help with productivity when you get to work,” he added.


 

 
 

 
 
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3. Walk after meals

Instead of sitting down some more after a meal, try lacing up your shoes for a brisk walk. 

“When you walk after meals you are directly sending energy from your food into your cells, lowering the post meal blood sugar spike and utilizing the energy right away,” said Anne Murray, fitness trainer owner of Nourished By Anne LLC in Austin, Texas.


 

 
 

 
 
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Just a walk around the block or to your driveway and back is better than nothing, experts say, and once you’re out of the house you may surprisingly find yourself walking for longer than you thought.

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Bria Gadd, a Toronto-based integrative nutritionist, holistic health coach, and personal trainer, and nutrition coach who hosts “The Period Whisperer Podcast” echoed this sentiment.

“When you walk after meals you are directly sending energy from your food into your cells, lowering the post meal blood sugar spike and utilizing the energy right away,” said Anne Murray. (iStock)

“Ten minutes of movement post meal can significantly reduce glucose spikes in the body, reducing the workload on the body and allowing the body to respond more efficiently in digestion and shift into fat burning mode,” Gadd told Fox News Digital.

4. Do some chores

Small tasks like taking out the recycling and folding laundry will get your moving. For example, WebMd reports that vacuuming “for 30 minutes can burn 99 calories if you’re 120 pounds, 124 calories if you’re 150 pounds and 166 calories if you’re 200 pounds.” 

Mowing the lawn for 30 minutes can burn up to 200 calories for a 185-pound person, the health news site wrote in 2021.

clean refrigerator

“Instead of focusing on restrictive dieting and grueling workouts, however, it might make more sense to focus on boosting metabolism with non-exercise activity, like household chores or walking your dog,” Kilinski told Fox News Digital. (iStock)

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But as health coach Fran Kilinski points out, if you want to shed serious pounds you’ll have to work at it.

“Losing weight and the speed with which you lose it depend on a multitude of factors, like consistent exercise, diet, food timing, metabolism and genetics,” said Kilinski, who is the owner of NYC-based wellness brand Levolution Athletics, and writer of the High Performance Health newsletter on Substack. 


 

 
 

 
 
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“Instead of focusing on restrictive dieting and grueling workouts, however, it might make more sense to focus on boosting metabolism with non-exercise activity, like household chores or walking your dog,” he said.

5. Pace around your house

Try taking a stroll around your apartment, office or around town if you’re early to meet a friend for lunch.

“Pacing is another strange but effective habit for facilitating weight loss,” Kilinski said. “While typically associated with anxiety and worry, pacing actually helps get extra steps in, keeps body heat high and can also help keep joints in the lower extremities from stiffening.”

pacing around the house

Stay active by pacing around your house, apartment, office or even while you wait at the bus stop. (iStock)

Kilinski added that for those who head to the gym in the evening, make it a point to pace throughout the day to keep muscles limber. 

6. Do some deep breathing

Gadd claims that taking four-to-five slow, deep breaths before you eat can have a significant impact on our bodies’ ability to burn calories versus storing them. 

“Conscious breathing will help to settle our central nervous system, keeping our body out of fight or flight mode where it focuses on storing calories for the response to the current stressful situation,” she said.

woman relaxing with coffee

Gadd says it’s a helpful strategy to take deep breaths before eating so you’re doing so “from a place of calm,” which affects your metabolism. (iStock)

“Eating and drinking from a place of calm will keep the metabolism in calorie burning mode,” Gadd added.

7. Take cold showers

If you can handle washing in chilly water, consider this tip from Hamlin. 

“When exposed to cold temperatures, our bodies have two types of fat cells: white fat and brown fat,” said Hamlin.

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Toothbrush and other bottles in shower

Cold showers help generate heat and even maintain your body’s core temperature. (iStock)

“Taking cold showers is thought to activate brown fat by causing it to burn calories in order to generate heat and maintain your body’s core temperature,” he said.

Hamlin explained the cold-shower process is known as thermogenesis, and it can help to increase the number of calories your body burns throughout the day.

8. Do calf raises while you cook

When Karisa Karmali, a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, is cooking, she’s taken to embracing a workout move: calf raises. 

“When I am preparing anything in the kitchen, be it a meal or snack, I do calf-raises while standing which is a low enough impact exercise we can do while getting things done around the house,” said Karmali, who is founder of Self-Love and Fitness in Canada.

calf raises fitness

Calf raises are a simple exercise that can be done throughout the day no matter what you are doing. (iStock)

To do calf raises, simply stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and then stand up onto your tippy-toes and slowly lower yourself back down to the floor, she said.

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Bonus idea: When Karmali is feeling extra lazy and ready for sleep, instead of skipping her workout altogether, she does flutter kicks, leg raises and glute bridges in her pajamas (about 20 reps each). 

9. Get enough sleep. 

As Murray explained it, sleeping is a time when your body goes into repair and recovery mode. 

man in deep sleep

Getting enough sleep helps keeps your hormones balanced and decrease the likeliness to overeat. (iStock)

“Better sleep equals better hormone function,” she said, and “you’ll be less likely to overeat, and your stress hormone cortisol won’t be as high; excess cortisol can lead to fat gain.”

10. Set a daily step goal on your smartwatch

Blakey recommends doing this to remind you when it’s time to get up and walk around throughout the day. 

“Often the reason many people don’t get enough steps in a day is simply because they don’t think about it,” said Blakey. 

fitbit watch

Smartwatches are an option to track your steps as you move throughout the day. (iStock)

“Setting up your watch to buzz at a certain per-hour step goal is both easy and effective in helping to promote additional steps (which will burn more calories) throughout your day,” he said.

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