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6 Ways to Burn an Extra 500 Calories a Day

And they’re not all what you might think. 

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By Taylor Lupo

We all have our routines, and for some, that doesn’t include the hours on the treadmill. And that’s OK. Simple swaps and extra steps could help you shed unwanted weight at home, at the office and in the gym—or even while you're running errands.

The old rule of thumb is that, to lose one pound of fat, you must burn about 3,500 calories; that’s 500 calories each day over the course of a week. Keep in mind, based on weight—and the rate of a person’s metabolism—our bodies burn calories at varying rates. Your healthcare provider can help determine the exact amount of exercise you should get.

Get your body moving, your heart rate up and the number on the scale down with these smart activities.

Opt for a Morning Workout

2 / 7 Opt for a Morning Workout

After a long, exhausting day, we seldom have the desire to squeeze in a workout. There is a way around this—sneak in some exercise in the morning. With fewer hours to convince yourself not to, you’ll be more inclined to hit the gym.

As a general rule, adults should get about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day. Take a 30-minute spin on the stationary bike to burn about 260 calories, or opt for an hour in the pool to burn off nearly 500.  

The benefits don’t stop there—exercise boosts your mood and kicks up your energy levels, which should motivate you to move more throughout the day. 

Move More at Home

3 / 7 Move More at Home

We could be adding movement to everyday activities, like brushing our teeth and cooking, so why aren’t we? Instead of waiting around for the microwave to ding or the washing machine to stop—move!

A 155-pound person can burn 150 calories with just a half hour of walking. So, take a quick walk down the hall as you brush your teeth, pace while you’re on the phone and stretch as you watch your favorite show. 

Add steps to chores, too—vacuum the whole house instead of one room; dust the surfaces that get neglected in your daily rush to tidy up; or do the yardwork yourself—mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges and planting a garden are great ways to get moving. 

Make the Extra Trip

4 / 7 Make the Extra Trip

So, you just went to the grocery store to shop for the week? Instead of struggling to make one trip, or asking a family member for help, turn the task into a two- or three-trip job. Apply the same rule after you pick up your dry cleaning or gardening supplies—like soil or mulch—and after a big shopping spree!

In addition to sparing yourself the struggle of lugging a week’s-worth of groceries into your house, an extra trip or two will help you add some steps to your day. Every minute of movement counts—in addition to helping you slim down, walking is great for your joints, boosts your immune system, improves your mood and more. 

Push Yourself

5 / 7 Push Yourself

Why stop at just 30 minutes? Barring extreme fatigue or injury, pushing yourself to run a little further, pedal a little harder or walk a little faster shouldn't hurt. In fact, it could help offset your calorie count.

A 155-pound individual, running on pace for a 10-minute mile, burns 560 calories in 45 minutes. Someone who stops after 30 minutes burns just 370 calories. If walking is more your pace, stepping it up a notch—by about one mile per hour—increases your calorie burn by about 40 calories every 30 minutes. Now, that’s something we can all pick up the pace for.

Don’t Sit So Much

6 / 7 Don’t Sit So Much

Many of us spend hours sitting each day. In addition to increasing the risks of obesity, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels, sitting burns fewer calories than other tasks. A 170-pound person burns about 140 calories for each hour spent sitting. The same person can burn 190 calories by standing, or 325 calories with walking. 

So, make a point to move every so often: do a lap around your office or house, head to the kitchen for a glass of water or take your pup for a long walk. Window shopping is a fun way to add extra steps, too—head to the nearest mall and wander. If you find yourself glued to your seat, you can still up your calorie burn by fidgeting, which burns an extra 350 per day.

Take the Longest Route

7 / 7 Take the Longest Route

Taking the longest route might seem counterintuitive, unless you’re on a mission to burn more calories.

The coveted 10,000 steps—a concept developed in Japan in the 1960s and promoted in recent years by the creators of Fitbit, a wearable device that tracks your steps—might have some validity. In short—challenge yourself to take 10,000 steps a day, and track it. It could work—someone weighing between 150 and 200 pounds will burn between 400 and 550 calories. 

You don’t have to switch up your routine to get more steps; just add movement to your regular errands. Walk the perimeter of your favorite department store before loading your cart, or take a stroll down every aisle. Or, take a trip around the block each time you head to the mailbox.