8 Small Efforts with Major Calorie Burning Rewards

While a super sweaty hot yoga session or spin class can burn an impressive amount of calories—the truth is we don’t always have the energy to dedicate to an hour-long exercise class.

The good news is you don’t have to go to the gym or even dedicate a large chunk of time in order to burn a good amount of calories in a day. In fact, oftentimes it’s the small efforts that really add up at the end of the day. These eight simple efforts deliver major calorie-burning rewards…


1. Be a Miss Fidget

I know your mother told you, “Not to fidget,” but research from a Mayo Clinic study found that tapping your feet, twiddling your thumbs, pacing, and jiggling your legs repetitively can actually help burn hundreds of calories per day—making fidgety folks more fit!

The Mayo Clinic study, which was also published in the journal Science, monitored a group of 10 lean men and women and 10 slightly obese men and women with underwear outfitted with body movement sensors for a 10-day duration. The researchers determined that the fitter folks were in fact fidgeters (say that 10-times fast), and burned an additional 350-calories each day due to restless movements—such as walking around while on the phone and tapping their feet and fingers along to music.

2. Cool Things Off

If you like to crank the heat or bask in humid climates, research from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), claims you’re thwarting your calorie-burning prowess.

According to the NIH study, cooler room temperatures of 66-degrees-Fahrenheit or less are prime grounds for burning fat and boosting the body’s metabolism. Study participants exposed to cooler temperatures for 10-hours per night for a month experienced a 10-percent increase in fat metabolic activity.

3. No Eating in Front of the TV

The findings from a University of Massachusetts study should be no surprise—we eat more when we nosh while watching television. Shockingly, the research claims that the average TV watcher consumes an additional 288-calories when they dine while watching their favorite sit-com.

To avoid zoning out and eating too much in front of the boob tube, have your meals at your dining room table. Then take a leisurely walk after your meal to aid digestion before settling in to watch Game of Thrones.

4. Embrace a Little Instability

While you might be more prone to the mantra “hold steady” in life, employing a little instability can aid your calorie-burning goals once in a while. Take for instance the use of a stability ball as your desk chair.

Findings from a 2008 study from the University of Buffalo found that working while sitting on an exercise ball burns 6-percent more calories compared to working on a regular office chair.

5. Spice things Up!

Spicy foods, such as Thai spicy noodle soup, might make you sweat profusely during your lunch hour. However, the fiery feast can also help boost your metabolism significantly, according to researchers from Purdue University.

Scientists monitored the effects of spicy red pepper (or capsaicin) on the appetites and metabolic rates of 25 healthy young adults. Findings showed that as little as 1-gram of spice could alter metabolic rate and curb food intake.

6. Drink More Coffee

If you were contemplating that second copy of java this morning, a study from nutritionists at Tufts University, in Boston, may convince you to slurp away to your heart’s content.

Findings from the study claim that caffeine not only accelerates heart rate to the caloric-burning point—it also boosts the body’s ability to burn calories for up to 3-hours after your last cup.

7. Chew Gum

While contestants on the Biggest Loser chew gum in order to manage hunger and control cravings, have you ever wondered if there’s any truth to chewing gum to promote weight loss?

Research from the University of Rhode Island claims that individuals who chew gum consumed 68 fewer calories at lunchtime and were better able to resist fatty snacks mid-afternoon compared to their non-gum chewing counterparts.

8. Make Sleep a Priority

As if you needed a reason to catch a little extra shuteye! Research from the University of Chicago recommends adequate sleep is necessary to be able to avoid unnecessary snacking throughout the day.

The study found that individuals who get less than 6-hours of sleep per night snacked more during the day and ate roughly 1,000 more calories the following day.


Emily Lockhart

Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.