13 Everyday Activities That Burn More Than 200 Calories
Last Updated: May 11, 2017
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We all know exercise is important not only for physical and mental health, but also for longevity. There are times, however, that life, career and family obligations take precedence, which makes fitting in exercise a real challenge. But getting your daily dose of fitness doesn’t have to take a backseat to other, more pressing demands. Research indicates there are a number of everyday activities that, if done correctly, will burn 200 or more calories in 30 minutes to an hour. We’ve compiled a list of these activities based on an individual weighing 155 pounds. If you weigh less, you’ll need to increase either the time or intensity. If you’re heavier, you’ll burn even more!
GO GROCERY SHOPPING
If you’re like most people, you go to the grocery store at least once a week. If you can consolidate your shopping into less frequent trips so you can spend at least an hour shopping, you’ll burn about 260 calories. If you want to amp it up, start with the heaviest items first to make your stroll more intense as you push a cart full of cans and beverages through the store. But if you plan on purchasing heavy items, go into a deep-knee-bend squat when lifting them off the floor. When rotating and lifting, be sure to engage your core and make sure your hip flexors are strong and not overextended. Remember to breathe through your nose and keep your core engaged.
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FEED OR BATHE THE KIDS
Some of the most ordinary jobs of everyday life can be seen in a whole new light when you realize the calories you’ll burn doing them. Assuming your young ones’ routines are not out of the ordinary, you’ll burn 260 calories for every hour you spend feeding and/or bathing them. To maximize your efficiency, wear comfortable, supportive shoes if you’re standing to feed small children in a highchair. Be sure to use your core to strengthen your entire midsection and maintain a good, solid posture. Don’t slouch, hunch your shoulders or tilt your pelvis forward. Stand tall, roll your shoulders back and down, lift your chest and squeeze your abs, glutes and inner thighs. Have a high-seated chair available, for those times you can’t stand any longer, but make sure not to lean forward. Use your core to sit up tall—and tuck the tailbone under, leaving only a slight sway in the small of the back. The same principles apply to bathing the kids. You’ll likely be kneeling over the tub, so rest your knees on a padded surface to protect them. Take advantage of the opportunity to burn some calories and have fun with your little rug rats!
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PLAY WITH THE KIDS
Playing with your children (or young siblings, nieces, nephews or cousins) can be one of the most enjoyable and gratifying things you do. But there’s a bonus: You’ll burn almost 300 calories an hour! The next time you’re around some little ones, volunteer to be their latest tea-party guest, play hide-and-seek or teach them a new game. Burn even more calories by taking your play outside for a round of tag or duck duck goose. Or take it to the water for added resistance (a game of Marco Polo will burn about 400 calories in 30 minutes). For full core benefits, inhale before exerting and exhale when you’re pushing yourself. Use your abdominal muscles to support your back, hips and shoulders. Have fun, but watch out for the safety of the kids as well.
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CLEAN THE HOUSE
Though it’s tempting to spot clean your floors on your hands and knees, bringing out that mop and bucket and giving it your best effort will burn a minimum of 330 calories per hour. With a little ingenuity and determination (and some high-intensity interval training) you can amp up this activity. If you choose the more intense option, stretch beforehand to make sure your muscles are prepared, turn on some music, grab a mop, bucket and soapy water and start in one corner of the room. Warm up for five minutes, either slowly taking the mop back and forth, dipping it into the soapy water as needed, or rotating your waist and making circles on the floor. Move at an easy pace for the first five minutes then launch into a rapid-fire mopping action. This is a full-burst-of-energy, giving-it-your-all action that will last for 30 seconds. Draw precise, vertical lines and move deliberately backward toward the other side of the room. Do six or eight of these 30-second bursts, taking 90-second breaks in between at your easy pace. When you’re in your high-intensity mode, keep your chest lifted, shoulders back and down and engage your core, especially as you rotate.
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STROLL THROUGH THE PARK
Walking is for good your health, but it may surprise you to learn the number of calories you’ll burn in an hour. And finding numerous opportunities to include walking in your everyday routine is fairly easy. The most obvious examples are parking your car a little further away from your destination, walking to do errands in the neighborhood or strolling through the neighborhood park. Even slow walking (about 3.5 miles per hour, or a 17-minute mile) will burn almost 300 calories in an hour. Increase your speed a few notches (racewalking) and you can burn about 480 calories in an hour. Remember to take long, steady breaths. Try to work up to inhaling and exhaling for at least four steps each. Use your core, walk heel to toe and to wear good walking shoes. But, most of all, enjoy yourself!
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MOW THE LAWN
Some of the most arduous chores can put quite a dent in your daily caloric burn when done correctly. Mowing the lawn with a standard push mower will burn about 334 calories per hour (sorry, you can’t do this on a riding mower, but you can use a gas or electric mower when pushing, of course). If you opt for the push-power mower, you can burn up to 410 calories per hour. Of course, you’ll need a lawn that requires an hour to mow, but you can always volunteer to mow a neighbor’s lawn or spend the remaining time raking, hedging, trimming and cleaning up. Just be sure to wear good walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. As you push the mower, allow your core to do most of the work and elicit help from your quads as needed.
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TEND THE GARDEN
Basic gardening chores like weeding, pruning and watering can burn at least 334 calories! Add some of the other more difficult tasks, such as hauling clippings and transplanting large plants, and your burn will increase significantly. To torch calories more effectively and avoiding the risk of injury, try some inner-thigh and torso stretches ahead of time. And remember to wear protective clothing and sunscreen, especially if you are exposed to direct sunlight. You may want to bring a folded towel or kneepads with you to protect your knees when kneeling on a hard surface like concrete or dry, solid ground. Use your quads and glutes to do low crouching and deep-knee bends when standing up. As you dig with a spade or hand shovel to plant your seeds, you’ll want to elicit help from your lats and axilla (armpit-area muscles) to support your biceps and shoulders. The trick is to be mindful of the muscles you’re using frequently and recruit other muscles for support to avoid extreme fatigue.
Related: Small-Space Edible Gardening Guide
RAKE THE LAWN
Not thrilled about gathering up those leaves from the lawn? Think about this: An hour of this little chore will burn about 300 calories. That’s the equivalent of a small dessert or slice of pizza. But if you want to get more from your outdoor chores and burn more calories, try holding a plié squat while you rake. It may sound silly, but this little variation will take your raking to the next level. Take your feet wide and turn them out to form a V shape. Squat down, squeezing in your abs and glutes. Tuck your tailbone underneath you, keeping your back and pelvic area as vertical as possible and rolling your shoulders back and down. Don’t want to let the neighbors see you in a grand plié? It’s OK, holding a slight bend in the knees as you do this task will also do the trick. Rotate your waist from that position to complete each raking repetition. It may not be pretty to watch, but when you’re done, both you and your lawn will be in great shape.
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WASH THE CAR
Who isn’t a big fan of automated car washes? But by simply rinsing, washing and drying your own car, you can burn 334 calories in an hour! That’s just the amount for a basic wash and dry, folks. It doesn’t include vacuuming or polishing the interior or detailing those rims and tires. The car won’t get clean itself, so the next time there’s a long line at the carwash, take a hose and a bucket of soapy water and get to it. If you want to charge things up, add an interior and exterior detail. You’ll walk away sufficiently sweaty with a car that looks far better than any automated wash can produce.
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PAINT THE HOUSE
The calorie-burning potential in painting the house is extremely varied because there are so many types of house-painting tasks (baseboards, cutting in, hard-to-reach ceilings and corners). But regardless of the job, an hour of painting the house will burn about 350 calories. If you’re using a roller, amp things up by engaging your quads, driving through your heels and recruiting the lats, shoulders and biceps to rapidly roll over large areas. Move as quickly as possible over a large surface and don’t forget to apply a second (or even a third) coat. Be careful of muscular or skeletal injury due to straining, reaching or extending beyond your ability. A strong core and flexible legs and shoulders should help alleviate some of the risk, but be sure to stretch beforehand.
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PACK UP AND MOVE
There aren’t many who actually enjoy moving. The planning, packing and moving of furniture and boxes as well as unpacking on the other end can wreak havoc on your schedule and your body. But if done with good form, you can burn a hefty amount of calories. You’ll burn 223 calories just by moving your furniture for 30 minutes. Carrying boxes and loading them into the truck (or back inside on the other end of the move) will burn 260 calories in a half hour. You’ll burn that same amount for every hour you unpack your things. If you’re moving furniture, be sure not to do it alone, wear supportive shoes and do deep knee bends when lifting heavy objects from the floor. To lift furniture, stand with feet a little wider than hip-distance apart, inhale and lower into a deep squat, engaging your abdominal muscles. Exhale as you drive through your heels and allow your glutes, quads and core to support you. As you move the furniture, watch your step and walk heel to toe, avoiding damage to the knees. Pay attention to how your body feels and adjust as needed. As your arms grow fatigued, watch your posture and avoid hunching your shoulder up into your neck. No matter how much you dislike moving, you can’t argue with the great calorie burn!
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DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY
Put on your dancing shoes to burn 205 to 233 calories in just 30 minutes. You can’t simply waltz around the house, though. You’ll need to break out your best twist or jitterbug to burn this many calories -- and it has to be nonstop for 30 minutes. While you’re tapping your feet and doing the twist, be sure to keep your core engaged and use your inner-thigh muscles, quads and glutes to swivel those hips. You can also burn these calories while doing classical ballet, so if you’ve always wanted to pirouette around the office, now’s your chance!
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HIT THE LINKS
Golf is a sport that involves walking and swinging (which works the oblique muscles, but it’s not an everyday activity for everyone). However, in 30 minutes of your game, you’ll burn 205 calories. You can’t do it by riding in a cart, though. You’ll have to walk the course, skip the caddy and actually carry your own clubs. In order to optimize your golf game and get the most calorie-burning benefit, engage your core as you walk. Think about your posture, keeping your shoulders rolled back and down, alternating arms for your golf bag. When walking up or down hills, think about using your quads and glutes to help you maintain your strong posture. Then as you draw back to swing your club, inhale, engage your inner thighs and focus on your oblique muscles. As you initiate the swing, put your eye on the ball, exhale and swing.
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
We’ve covered a handful of everyday activities that burn 200 or more calories in 30 minutes to an hour. Did we miss something? Are there some daily chores or tasks you do that provide you with a great workout? Perhaps you have a different method for one of the tasks we’ve covered? We’d love to hear about it. Let us know in the comments below!
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