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Surprise Exercise: 5 Calorie Burning Activities You Already Do and 5 Routine Tweaks to Burn Even More

Get off that treadmill and listen to this: Sure, it’s important to burn calories, but your exercise routine doesn’t have to be so… routine. Turns out, there are tons of things we already do that count as mini workouts. So whether you’re bored of the gym or don’t have that half hour time slot each day to complete those typical calorie burners, we have a list that’ll make you feel way more accomplished. Plus, learn how to tweak your schedule to work off even more.
What You’re Already Doing:

Walking Upstairs: 10 Minutes
Calories burned: 92
Live on the second, third, or fourth floor of your dorm? Skip the elevator and take the stairs instead. A few trips up each day could be just the thing to counteract those late-night pizza deliveries. For girls who live at the top of their residence halls, try getting off the elevator a few floors early and climbing the rest. Who knows? Maybe you’ll make some new 9th floor friends (or a cute guy) on your way to the 12th.

Washing Dishes: 20 Minutes
Calories Burned: 51
Tired of cleaning up after those messy roommates? Well, it’s time to look at their dirty dishes as more than a constant frustration. Grab some soap and a sponge and scrub away the calories, and take pride in the secret fact that they may be making the mess, but you’re getting the reward. Best of all, everyone gets a dorm or apartment free of grimy cups and dishes.


Grocery Shopping: 45 Minutes
Calories Burned: 121
Food is all about taking in calories, right? Wrong. Shopping is great exercise. You walk around pushing a heavy cart full of edibles, lift it all onto the conveyor to pay, put it pack into your cart, then load those bags into your car or carry them home.


Walking in Heels: 25 Minutes
Calories Burned: 124
Okay, so there’s no actual evidence out there that heels burn more calories than flats, but they do tone your legs way better than sneakers or other low-to-the-ground footwear. Sure, trekking to that Friday night party in stilettos isn’t the most comfortable experience, but maybe the knowledge that you’re getting a workout will help ease some of the pain. 


Embracing Laundry Day: 30 Minutes of Folding
Calories Burned: 72 (another 76 if you iron for half an hour)
Next time you find yourself staring hopelessly at that pile of dirty clothes, use this little laundry day tidbit as motivation. So embrace those frequent wardrobe changes and get folding. Bonus points if you lug that basket of clothes upstairs from the basement laundry room.

How to Burn Even More:

Give that Funny Friend a Call: Any Amount of Time
Calories Burned: Unknown
According to Discovery Health, laughing lowers cortisol in your body, which is the source of those unhealthy food cravings we all get. So if you want to keep that diet on track, get giggling. The American Psychological Society even found that anticipating something funny or pretending to laugh has some of the same effects. Well, isn’t that funny?

Stop Staking Out the Perfect Parking Spot: 5 Minutes Each Way
Calories Burned: 51
Humans are naturally competitive, and finding that close parking space is no exception. Be kind to your body and to those shoppers who can’t walk the length of a parking lot and find a spot farther away. Besides, in the time you’ll spend driving around to park close, you probably could have parked farther back and been shopping already.

Become a Weekend Re-Decorator: One Hour of Moving Furniture and Two Hours Painting
Calories Burned: 504
Getting tired of your room? Rearrange it and get a workout in the process. Looking to put some more color into your life? Skipping the gym to paint the walls may actually be more effective. Here’s to the weekend warriors!

Offer to Take Out the Trash: 15 Minutes
Calories Burned: 112
Take a walk around your house, apartment, or dorm and gather up all that garbage. If you’re feeling generous, offer to take everyone else’s trash to the curb, too. It’s a stinky job, but someone’s gotta burn the calories.


Get Gaming and Learn to Play Cards: One Hour
Calories Burned: 108 (assuming it’s a high-intensity game)
Here’s a surprising one. Learning poker may do as much for your wallet as it does for your workout. Become a big better and you’ll be sweating it out as much as you would on the treadmill. Five-card draw, anyone?

Note: Actual calorie results may be slightly more or less than given. These are taken from Discovery Health and the healthstatus.com calorie counter for a 150-pound individual. There is no set way to do some of these activities, but in the end, they all have a significant impact on your daily workouts.



Alyssa Grossman is a Jersey girl who sacrificed warmer winters to study Magazine Journalism at Syracuse University. When she isn’t writing, you can probably find her tap dancing, baking, or laughing uncontrollably with friends. She loves going on spontaneous road trips, then coming back and recording every detail in her journal. She’s also obsessed with pumpkin spice lattes and sushi, though not together. Last summer, she interned at M Magazine and as a result, is now a teen pop culture whiz. She is Features Editor at Zipped Magazine, Syracuse University’s fashion publication, and is a contributing writer for the online magazine, bizme.biz. After graduation, she plans to follow her love of Magazine Journalism wherever it takes her. Because, frankly, she couldn’t see herself doing anything else.