Burning calories with non-exercise-like exercises

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Burning Calories, woman stretching behind desk

Burning calories sounds exactly like exercise — do you agree? The last word will never be said about weight loss, diets and exercise. New supplements and devices that promise weight loss without exercising become available every day. Remember the saying “if it sounds too good to be true…”

However, it is possible to lose weight while eating a healthy diet but without spending any time in the gym. You don’t even need to lock yourself in with an exercise video. Let’s start at the basics. It is all about calories in and calories out. If you burn more calories than what you consume, you will lose weight. The other way around, and you will gain weight, and a perfect balance will help you maintain a healthy weight.

Burning calories by basal metabolic rate (BMR)

Your body needs energy for every little thing it does to keep you alive. This includes your breathing, heartbeat, brain function and maintaining body temperature. These functions continue while your body rests — relaxing on the couch or sleeping in your bed. Even daydreaming and dreaming while you sleep need brain activity. BMR is the amount of energy you need to maintain basic bodily functions while you sleep or rest. You might be surprised to learn that about 2/3 of the calories you burn each day happens while resting.

Burning calories unintentionally — fidgeting

Habits like tapping your foot, jiggling your leg or twirling your pen burn small amounts of calories. Studies have found that the calories burned by frequent fidgeting could add up to about 350 per day. Have you noticed how lean people fidget all the time?

Burning Calories, woman exercising behind desk
Burning calories in the office

Burning calories intentionally

Intentional calorie burning does not necessarily mean participating in organized physical activity. You can burn significant amounts of calories by paying attention to the small things. Look at how you can burn calories while you work:

  • Take frequent breaks from your work and don’t stay behind your desk. Use those breaks to walk around and burn calories.
  • Develop a habit of walking at a faster pace than you would normally walk.
  • Avoid using the escalator or elevator and use the stairs instead.
  • Use a printer furthest from your office.
  • Choose the restroom on the other side of the building instead of the one near your office.
  • Choose a parking spot at the far end whenever you use public parking because the longer walk will burn extra calories.
  • Take your phone calls standing up rather than sitting behind your desk. Use those times to pace around, stretch or even using a file or something else to do lifting exercises.
  • Try to encourage colleagues to have meetings while walking.
  • Consider changing your desk for a standing desk.

Fitness authorities say 30 minutes of daily exercise, or 150 minutes per week, is enough to maintain a healthy weight.

Considering the calories you burn while at rest, these nonexercise-like exercises will undoubtedly help you lose weight. Remember to pack healthy lunches with fewer calories than what you will burn during the day.

Burning Calories, man exercising behind desk
Burning Calories at work


The best way to lose weight and maintain it indeed is to eat a healthy diet and exercise. However, how, when and where you exercise is not set in stone.

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