Spontaneous late-night snack runs, conversations over lattes and free food at events are as much a part of college life as essays, books and exams. With the immense stress of college, it is valuable to incorporate moments of happiness where you have your body’s (mental and physical) health in mind. If you find yourself a culprit of frequent snacking (let’s be honest, we all are) and want to work off those extra calories but don’t have time to fit in a real workout, check out these 12 clever ways to burn 200 calories. And the best part is, you don’t even have to enter the gym!
1. Walk or bike everywhere
Let’s admit it—we’ve all been tempted to drive to places that we could easily walk to, whether it’s classes, the library or the nearest grocery store. Melanie Ludwig, owner of Prestige Fitness, suggests walking a lap around the buildings that you have classes in before class starts. For a 150-pound individual, walking for 40 minutes at a pace of three miles per hour burns 200 calories. Calculate how many calories you burn from walking here!
If walking isn’t your thing, biking for 23 minutes can also burn 200 calories. Not really into pedaling? Try rollerblading, riding a scooter or getting off the bus early to walk to class. These little decisions can accumulate and make a difference in your health. Don’t stress the extra calories, and incorporate these small (but powerful) activities into your daily routine.
2. Have a stair-ing contest
Don’t think we’ve forgotten about those dreaded stairs! We oftentimes can’t help hating on the stairs, especially when we have to lug around our own body weight (and textbooks) on a daily basis. But if you choose the stairs every day, it will be beneficial in the long run. After all, a 150 to 160-pound individual can burn 10 calories every minute they climb stairs. That means that only 20 minutes of climbing a day will burn 200 calories!
3. Exercise while studying
It’s easy to stay in one place for hours on end when you have reading to do or an exam to study for. However, as soon as you sit down, calorie-burning drops to one calorie per minute, and enzymes that help break down fat drop by 90 percent.
“We are made to locomote, and inactivity leads to poor health,” Ludwig says. To increase activity, Ludwig suggests sneaking in movement while you are otherwise preoccupied. “Have a lot of reading to do? Do it on a recumbent bike at a low resistance so that it’s easy [and] your reading or studying is all you think about,” Ludwig says. “I don’t suggest this on a treadmill or elliptical as it is harder to balance, but you can try.”
For a 150-pound individual, only 26 minutes on a recumbent bike, 26 minutes on an elliptical trainer at a moderate pace or walking on a treadmill at three miles per hour for 56 minutes will burn 200 calories. And you can get your work done, too! If you don’t have access to any of these exercise machines, check out these other exercises that you can do at your desk. Talk about multitasking!
4. Do your chores
For most of us, the early morning rush to class means that your bed is left unmade and your clothes are scattered around your room. It’s easy to leave chores to a (way) later date when a parent isn’t there to remind you to do them. If you desperately need to take care of the mess in your room, burning calories is a great incentive to get those chores out of the way.
Light housework, like doing laundry, burns 170 calories an hour. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find your long-lost shirt or missing books along the way!
5. Put on your dancing shoes
Everyone needs a good dance session now and then. What better time to have one than while you’re doing dreaded chores?
“Need to clean your room? Put on some music and get a Swiffer duster and voila!” Ludwig says. “You will be dancing while cleaning and not even notice that you are really exercising.”
You’ll be able to burn calories, have fun and cross off your to-do list in a breeze. Just 40 minutes of dancing can burn 200 calories—smooth moves not required! So crank up some fast-paced songs and channel your inner Beyonce!
6. Squat when you blow-dry your hair
After your nice morning shower, you pull out your hairdryer and start drying… and drying… and drying. Hair can take so long to dry, so why not squat up and down while you do it? You can burn 70 calories for every five minutes you do squats, so only 15 minutes of squatting will burn about 200 calories. Talk about starting your day off with a burn! In fact, you can even go the extra mile and try squatting while brushing your teeth, making a cup of coffee, brushing your hair… you name it!
7. Work on your flexibility
Stretching feels good, helps protect you from injury and burns more than twice the number of calories as sitting. If you spend just 12 minutes a day doing stretches, you’ll be able to burn more than 200 calories a week and be that much closer to touching your toes! You can also try doing stretches on the floor with your notes while studying.
8. Swap out your desk chair for an exercise ball
Those wooden dorm desk chairs can feel so uncomfortable after you’ve hunkered down in them for a few hours. To avoid this and burn some calories, consider swapping your desk chair for an exercise ball.
“My chair at my desk is a ball, so I also do some abdominal exercises while working, and stretch my hamstrings and hip flexors on the ball all the time, as being sedentary for too many hours is detrimental for our bodies,” Ludwig says.
Sitting on an exercise ball increases calorie-burning by six percent, and since desk work burns around 106 calories per hour for a 135-pound individual, you can expect to burn 200 calories by doing work on the ball for an hour and 47 minutes. Feel like being more active? Doing a set of sit-ups and abdominal crunches on an exercise ball for 24 minutes burns 200 calories for a 150-pound individual.
9. Drink ice-cold water
Next time you’re thirsty, skip the room-temperature water. Instead, drink your water ice cold. That way you can get a metabolic boost of about 25 calories per glass because your body has to use extra energy to warm the water. Down eight glasses of cold water a day, and you’ll be burning 200 calories like nobody’s business!
10. Walk and talk
Few things are nicer than catching up with a friend over the phone and talking for hours and hours on end. Next time, instead of sitting and chatting away, step outside and get some fresh air. If you go for a walk while you talk, you’ll be so engrossed in conversation that you won’t even notice that you’re burning lots of calories! Walking and talking for an hour burns 200 calories—and you’ll get to catch up with a friend you may not have talked to in a while. It’s a win-win!
11. Sing your heart out
Let’s admit it—we all miss singing in the shower at home. Sure, this might have annoyed a few neighbors and made a few dogs howl, but you probably got away with it and it was totally worth it.
College is a little different. With 10 girls sharing the same bathroom, it’s easy to feel bad or self-conscious about singing. But if you need help convincing yourself about the virtues of singing in the shower, just know that singing for an hour and a half burns 200 calories on average! So whether you like to lock yourself in your room to belt out a few of your favorite songs or have an Easy-A-inspired, Emma-Stone-esque scenario, you’ll be burning those calories away and getting that much closer to becoming the next big pop star!
12. Laugh out loud
Who doesn’t like to have a laugh attack with their best friends? Besides being totally fun, 10 to 15 minutes of laughter can increase energy expenditure by 10 to 40 calories per day. That means that about an hour and a half of laughing can burn 200 calories. So start practicing those jokes and tickling some funny bones!
Burning calories doesn’t have to mean going to the gym and working your way through your usual exercise routine. Working out and maintaining your desired body image can be stressful. Remember, that these activities should be focused on how you feel and not how you look (because I am sure you look amazing regardless). These activities should be low maintenance and simple, with the goal of improving your mental and physical well-being (slowly, but surely). With a little creativity and attentiveness, you’ll be able to burn 200 calories without even noticing it!