7 everyday activities that totally count as exercise

It's easy to turn mundane activities into calorie-burning opportunities.
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It's easy to turn mundane activities into calorie-burning opportunities.

Burn, baby, burn - calories that is. Everyone burns fuel doing everyday activities. Scientists even have a name for it: non-exercise activity thermogenesis. It's the energy you use walking up stairs or lifting grocery bags, and with a little imagination, it's easy to turn mundane activities into calorie-burning opportunities.

The best part? Research suggests these activities can help with weight management and actually count toward recommended exercise guidelines. 

For decades, researchers assumed you needed to break a sweat - or at least raise your heart rate for a prolonged period - for an activity to count toward exercise guidelines. But new research is causing scientists to rethink those beliefs. One study, for example, found that short bouts of higher-intensity exercise were associated with a decreased risk of being overweight or obese. ("Short bouts" refers to fewer than 10 minutes of physical activity.)

Shopping means walking, and walking burns calories (we're talking upwards of 200 calories per hour).
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Shopping means walking, and walking burns calories (we're talking upwards of 200 calories per hour).

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These findings should encourage us to take advantage of all the opportunities to get active, from the kitchen to the laundry room. Here are eight activities that sneak exercise into your routine while also crossing things off your to-do list.

Vacuuming is good for 150 calories per hour.
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Vacuuming is good for 150 calories per hour.

SHOPPING

Whether you're buying groceries or a new pair of shoes, shopping means walking, and walking burns calories (we're talking upwards of 200 calories per hour). You can get an even better workout by parking far from the store's entrance and avoiding elevators and escalators. Bonus: Try two stairs at a time to really get things moving.

CLEANING

Next time you do laundry, pick up the basket and twist your torso from side to side for a few reps.
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Next time you do laundry, pick up the basket and twist your torso from side to side for a few reps.

Vacuuming and sweeping is good for 150 calories per hour. So turn on some tunes and blast away those dust bunnies (and a few extra cals). Next time you do laundry, pick up the basket and twist your torso from side to side for a few reps - you've just snuck in a quick oblique workout.

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COOKING

Working in the kitchen - everything from chopping veggies to washing pots and pans - burns around 75 calories in 30 minutes. Ditch the electric mixer and stir batters by hand to give your arm muscles some extra loving.

Working in the kitchen - everything from chopping veggies to washing pots and pans - burns around 75 calories in 30 minutes.
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Working in the kitchen - everything from chopping veggies to washing pots and pans - burns around 75 calories in 30 minutes.

SITTING

Before you roll your eyes, we aren't trying to say you're going to get healthy sitting down all day long. But there are things you can do while parked in a chair to get in a bit of exercise. Try lifting your shoulders to your ears. Next, tighten your core, squeeze your butt and let the muscle toning begin.

WASHING YOUR CAR

Washing your car can burn 135 calories in 30 minutes. Add in a few sets of calf raises to reach the roof of the car and a few sets of squats to wash the tires - you'll get in a quick leg workout while making your car shine.

COMMUTING

Get off the bus or train one stop early to go the extra mile - literally. Extra credit: Walk along the curb to improve balance and work your core (safety first, though).

ORDERING DRINKS

You probably think the only thing getting a workout at the bar is your liver. But here's one thing you can do while waiting for the bartender to take your order: Stand on one foot. Not only will it work your core with some basic balancing, it's also a handy way to measure tipsiness too!

While traditional aerobic activity and strength training are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, everyday activities can be a great way to get moving.

 - MCT

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