6 Effortless Ways to Burn 500 Extra Calories Right Now

They don't all require a trip to the gym.

Medically reviewed in September 2021

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We all have our routines, and for some, that doesn’t include an hour or two on the treadmill each day. And that’s OK. A few simple switches and extra steps can help you shed unwanted weight at home, at the office, in the gym and even while you're running errands.

The old rule of thumb: 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 right amount of exercise for you.

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

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Opt for a morning workout

After a long, exhausting day, squeezing in a workout can be tough. Instead, 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 aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise a week, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). If you can get closer to 300 minutes of moderate exercise or 150 minutes of more strenuous activity each week, it’s even better. In fact, the more exercise you get, the greater the health benefits. If you can, take a 30-minute spin on the stationary bike to burn about 260 calories, or burn off nearly 500 calories with a 60-minute swim. Keep in mind however, any amount of physical activity is better than none. Every bit of exercise—even just a two-minute walk—counts towards your weekly goal and will work toward reducing your risk for a slew of chronic health issues, like heart disease and diabetes.

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.

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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, get moving! This can be a simple as pacing the floor, getting in a few jumping jacks or practicing your best dance moves.

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 entire 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.

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Make the extra trip

Instead of struggling to make one trip with armloads of groceries, or asking a family member for help, turn the task into a two or three-trip job. Apply the same rule after picking 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 and improves your mood.

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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 speed, 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.

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Don’t sit so much

Many of us spend hours sitting each day, at a desk, in the car or in front of the television. In addition to increasing your risk for obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol, sitting burns fewer calories than other tasks. A 170-pound person burns about 140 calories during 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, so 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.

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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 wearable fitness devices, might have some validity. Challenge yourself to take 10,000 steps a day, and track it using an app like Sharecare, available for iOS and Android. The app tracks your steps automatically, so take it with you as you move and check your progress throughout the day. Someone weighing between 150 and 200 pounds will burn between 400 and 550 calories with this many steps.

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.

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