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Why you should burn 500 calories this week

Linda Melone, CSCS, is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and certified personal trainer based in Orange County, CA. Visit her website at www.LindaMelone.com.

Boost your health and fitness in 500 calories

You're burning calories as you read this article. Whether or not you burn off all the calories in that giant cinnamon bun you ate for breakfast depends on a few factors, including what you do besides sitting at your computer. We're here to motivate you to get out of your easy chair and burn 500 calories this week. Your health depends on it!

Woman standing and reading

How many calories are you burning right now?

If you're sitting down, you're burning approximately 107 calories an hour. Stand up as you read and you'll burn 143 calories an hour. Walk around at the same time and you're up to 215 calories. That's right: Doing the same activity (reading) in different ways literally doubles your calorie expenditure. However, before you jump on the cardio machine and read, be warned that reading on the elliptical, treadmill or stationary bike takes away from the exercise and is not recommended. Focus on your exercise and you'll more efficiently burn off those cinnamon-bun calories!

How many calories are in one pound?

Now consider that a pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. Eat more than 3,500 and you gain a pound (your mileage may vary, as other factors such as natural fluctuations in water weight and metabolism come into play); cut out or burn the same number and you lose a pound. So if you normally sit down all day as you read, standing up and walking around instead enables you to lose a pound in four to five days (if you do this for an entire eight-hour workday and don't reward yourself with a slice of cheesecake each day for your efforts!).

Add exercise and activity to the mix and you'll burn a lot more. Get the idea? You move, you lose.

If that's not incentive enough for you to get busy, here's a few other reasons to up the exercise and activity ante. You will:

Reduce your risk of chronic diseases

Moving to burn off 500 calories reduces your risk of developing cancer, diabetes, depression, arthritis, high blood pressure and heart disease. Exercise also boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the good cholesterol.

Boost your mood and bust stress

Exercise improves your mood and stimulates brain chemicals that make you feel happier and more relaxed. When you feel happier and more relaxed, you can better control stress.

Feel better about yourself

Exercising will increase your confidence and self-esteem. Not only will you start upping your fitness level, you'll also start feeling better about Y-O-U.

Have more energy

It may sound counterintuitive, but staying active feeds on itself by improving endurance and making everyday activities easier to do. Get off the couch and start burning those calories!

Sleep more soundly

Regular exercise helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply -- just avoid exercising close to bedtime, when it may have the opposite effect.

Put the spark back in your love life

All that renewed energy can translate to more energized (wink, wink) bedroom escapades. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can also lead to enhanced arousal for women. 'Nuff said.

Have fun!

Instead of viewing exercise as work, think of easy ways you can bump up your calorie expenditure every day, such as playing with your kids, walking or biking to your errands, dancing around the house to your favorite playlist or finally using those fitness DVDs you bought with the best of intentions.

Are you standing up yet?

More on fitness

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Stacy's Bootcamp workout for new moms
6 Ways to inject some fun into your fitness routine

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