Woman cleaning with a mop

Burn calories without even trying

It's not always easy to get to the gym every day, but if you're on the fast track to swimsuit shopping you have no time to spare. The good news: Burning off 500 calories a day multiplied by seven days equals 3,500 calories burned, which brings you one pound closer to fitting into that little polka dot bikini. When time is of the essence, simply adding extra minutes to your everyday activities can help you reach your calorie-burning goals. Here are 27 sneaky ways to burn more calories.

Awareness is key to reaping the health benefits of sneaky activities

Plus, be aware of this added activity in order to reap its full benefits. Here's why: A 2008 study by a Harvard psychologist studied hotel maids who spend a good part of their day lugging around heavy equipment. Although their physical work kept them moving all day long, they did not see themselves as physically active. The researchers divided the maids into two groups. They educated one group about the number of calories they burned each day and explained how they already met the daily recommendations for activity. The second group was not told anything.

Surprisingly, after a month, the educated group decreased their blood pressure, weight and saw a 10 percent drop in blood pressure—even though they did not change their routines in any way! Researchers concluded the women's changed mindset helped their body respond to the activity they were already doing. Placebo effect? Possibly. Either way, as you go about your day, focus on what you're doing and see yourself as an active woman and you may also see similar changes after four weeks.

Mix and match the following activities and watch the calorie-burning add up. (Calories are based on a 150-pound woman; stats provided by the American College of Sports Medicine.)

Calories burned per 30 minutes of activity

Woman stretching
  • Stretching: 89 calories
  • Sweeping floors: 118 calories
  • Mopping floors: 129 calories
  • Food shopping: 82 calories
  • Carrying groceries upstairs: 258 calories (89 calories/10 minutes)
Woman raking lawn
  • Mowing the lawn: 197 calories
  • Mowing the lawn on a riding mower: 89 calories
  • Planting seedlings: 161 calories
  • Raking the lawn: 154
  • Walking slowly, carrying light objects (less than 25 pounds): 143 calories
Woman gardening
  • Gardening in general: 143 calories
  • Walking, gathering gardening tools: 107 calories
  • Walking, on the job, empty-handed (3.5 mph): 161 calories
Woman making bed
  • Making beds: 72 calories
  • Bathing the dog (standing): 125 calories
  • Reclining with baby: 54 calories
  • Child care: 107 calories
  • Jogging in place: 251 calories
Woman playing with frisbee
  • Lying quietly watching TV: 36 calories
  • Tailoring, hand sewing: 72 calories
  • Walking up hills: 251 calories
  • Standing: 72 calories
  • Playing Frisbee: 107 calories
Woman playing with frisbee
  • Elder care: 142 calories
  • Jogging on a mini trampoline: 161 calories
  • Sexual activity (passive, kissing, hugging): 36 calories
  • Sexual activity (vigorous): 54 calories

More ways to burn calories

6 Easy tricks to burn calories
6 Sexy ways to burn calories on the beach
Why you should burn 500 calories this week


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