23 Lazy Ways to Burn More Calories Every Day

Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

These expert-approved activities will boost the burn without your ever breaking a sweat.

Caucasian woman sleeping on bed

Get a good night’s sleep

Perhaps the easiest way to burn more calories every day requires the least amount of energy—how fun is that? It’s sleeping—something we should all aim to do at least seven hours a day. “Sleep actually helps your body run better,” explains Roger E. Adams, PhD, Houston-based dietitian and nutritionist and founder of eatrightfitness.com. “What’s more: Research has shown that people who chronically get fewer than six hours of sleep per day have lower metabolic rates, higher chances of developing chronic diseases, and higher rates of weight gain.” Don’t miss these 11 weird weight-loss tricks that really work.

Closeup of cooked fried egg on the pan

Increase protein throughout the day

Burn calories eating burgers? Yes, please. “Protein requires your body to work a little harder to digest foods than carbs and fat—it’s called the thermic effect of food,” explains Dr. Adams. “This means you burn a few extra calories with higher protein snacks and meals than ones that are lower in protein.” He suggests switching up your diet by lowering your intake of added fats and simple carbs and increasing your intake of high-protein foods such as eggs, quinoa, lentils, and almonds. Here are the best plant sources of protein in case beef isn’t what’s for dinner in your house. And don’t miss the foods that will help you burn more calories.

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Walk instead of drive

When you live in the suburbs, it’s easy to hop in your car for every errand, near or far. But sitting behind the wheel for 5, 10, or 15 minutes instead of walking, which might take you five to ten times longer, will ultimately burn way fewer calories. Harry Hanson, a celebrity trainer whose client list includes Sandra Bullock, Tyra Banks, and Hilary Duff, suggests walking to the grocery store and carrying your groceries back home at least one day a week. Learn about the 15 health benefits of walking.

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Lift your pillows over your head on the couch

For most of us, sitting on the couch means just that, sitting and not moving. But you can (and should!) incorporate some movement so that you can burn some calories while watching TV. Hanson recommends lifting your couch pillows over your head 50 times and also circling the couch itself to get your blood pumping. “During each commercial break, get up and take three laps around the couch,” he adds. “This keeps your body moving, which is good for the muscles, all while burning some calories.” Here are subtle body changes that happen when you start lifting weights.

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Follow the 6/60 rule

Adams’ favorite way to teach his clients to easily increase their calorie burning during the day is to practice what he calls the 6/60 rule—standing or moving for six minutes every 60 minutes of the day. He bases this guideline on research published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, which shows that as little as six minutes of standing or movement each hour is enough to offset the metabolic slowdown caused by long periods of sitting.

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Cut back your workout time

While it might sound counterintuitive, less may be more when it comes to exercising. One study, published in the journal Physiology, analyzed whether the amount of time spent exercising had an impact on greater weight loss; it showed that participants who exercised for 30 minutes each day for three months lost about 8 pounds while the ones who exercised for 60 minutes per day lost only 6 pounds. How is this possible? “A half-hour is an easier amount of time to push yourself at a higher intensity than an hour,” explains Chris Ryan, C.S.C.S and founder of Chris Ryan Fitness. “Try keeping the intensity high and the volume relatively low—efficient workouts are always the best!” This is how often—and for how long—you should exercise.

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Book more rest time

Believe it or not, we actually create small micro tears in our muscles over time when we work out, especially after lifting weights. They then repair themselves, Ryan explains, which helps them get stronger over time. Training without proper rest, however, prohibits the body from making those needed repairs. “When you rest your body properly between workouts, you actually give yourself a metabolism boost that helps you burn calories even when not at the gym,” he says. “Rest days could be total rest or encompass light movement patterns—stretching and mobility moves—to get the body moving gently and break up tight muscles.” Here’s what not to do after the gym.

Recovering exercise for injured leg

Add light weights to your errands

Put your errands to work for your figure. Caleb Backe, certified personal trainer and health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, recommends adding light ankle weights (such as this 1- to 5-pound set of ankle weights from Da Vinci) to your everyday activities, including grocery shopping, walking to the bus, and even puttering around the house. “This can help improve vascularization, minimize stubborn belly fat, and burn calories,” he says. Watch out for the weight-lifting mistakes can ruin your workout.

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Play in the pool

Embrace your inner child and have fun the next time you’re in a swimming pool instead of just wading into the water. Melis Edwards, MS, running and triathlon coach, and author of Deep End of the Pool Workouts, recommends playing with your kids, or your grandkids, doing laps or hydro running. “When you move your body in a pool, you navigate pushing through the hydrostatic pressure experienced in water, which will require more muscle engagement even for easy activities,” she says. “This can mean 200 to 500 calories burned an hour!” These are the activities that burn the most calories.

Young man car wash at home

Wash your own car

Sure, the drive-through is way easier, but washing your car yourself isn’t all that hard—plus, it burns way more calories than sitting and watching a machine do all the work. “As you wash low and high parts of your car (or truck), your body will be moving up and down, which works some major gluteal and leg muscles (not to mention your core, back, and arms),” says Edwards. “Add in waxing your vehicle, and you can tack on easily another 300 to 500 calories depending on the size of the vehicle.” These are the household chores that burn major calories.

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Drink lots of ice water

If you prefer your water room temperature, it might be time to add in some ice cubes! “Drinking chilled liquids forces your body to work harder by warming up the liquid before it can be passed further into the gastrointestinal system,” explains Dr. Adams. “This translates to more calories burned to warm up those liquids.”

Room wall temperature thermostat turn dial to set
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Turn the heat down

Like drinking ice-cold beverages, hanging out in a cold room has calorie-burning benefits too. Research by the National Institutes of Health has shown that exposure to cold temperatures can trigger calorie-burning and fat loss. More importantly, Backe points out that cold weather essentially exercises the circulatory system, effectively reducing inflammation and helping prevent heart and circulatory disease.

Young adult woman walking up the stairs with sun sport background.

Take the stairs

The elevator might get you there without interrupting that email or text you’re trying to send, but taking the stairs is way better for burning calories. “You’re going from point A to point B anyway, so why not make the extra effort and ditch the elevator or escalator?” says Backe. “While it may seem like an inconsequential exercise, daily stair climbing can significantly lower your risk of heart disease and weight gain.” Here are sneaky ways to walk more each day.

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Stand while you work

If your company allows it, consider swapping your normal, sit-down desk for a standing desk—or if you work from home, consider standing at your kitchen counter—which can help you burn an extra 20 to 50 calories an hour, according to Edwards. “Stand for four hours a day and that is 400 calories burned; over a five day work week—you have just shaved off 2,000 calories!” she adds. “Keep doing the math and it comes out to an extra 100,000 calories a year.”

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Chew gum

It might not sound like the healthiest habit in the world, but chewing gum can be beneficial to your waistline. “Chewing gum burns calories by both exercising your facial muscles and keeping you from snacking,” says Backe. “It’s also one of the easiest ways to tone your face and neck muscles and minimize a double chin.” Here are more unusual ways to burn more calories.

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Mow your lawn

Edwards recommends ditching the riding mower for an old school push mower to burn 300 calories an hour (instead of the 100 you’d burn when riding). “Pushing a mower is more than a light aerobic workout, as you are also working your core, hamstrings, and glutes to walk the mower (even with power mowers) and navigate around trees, planting islands, and more,” she says. Here are 10 activities that burn more calories than running.

Little boy is skimming pebbles on a lake with his father and grandfather.

Skip rocks

Remember this childhood pastime? Why not take it up again? After all, finding the flattest rock and chucking it across the water while counting the skips burns more calories than standing and admiring the view! “Not only is this relaxing, but you are engaging your core, lower legs, and glutes when you squat to pick up the perfect pebble, and the actual act of throwing engages your upper body depending on how hard and how long you throw,” Edwards says. “Try teaching yourself to throw with your non-dominant arm, so you can work both sides of your body equally!”

A young pregnant woman holding a cup, close-up

Sip green tea

You probably already know that coffee may help you lose weight. But here’s some incentive to brew a cup of green tea instead: Research published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences shows that consumption of green tea results in a reduction in weight, body mass index, waist circumference, and systolic blood pressure. Not a fan of tea? Sports Scientist Elesa Zehndorfer, Ph.D., recommends taking a green tea extract supplement instead. Don’t miss these easy ways to burn 100 calories.

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Watch a scary movie

Although watching TV seems counterintuitive to burning calories, tuning in to a specific type of TV-watching could slash extra calories. A study by the University of Westminster found that watching 90 minutes of an “adrenaline-inducing” movie could burn an average of 113 calories, with the film The Shining reportedly burning the most calories, followed by Jaws, and The Exorcist. According to the researchers, adrenaline release may lower appetite and increase the energy we expend while resting, burning a higher number of calories, the Telegraph reports.

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Sing in the shower

Extra calorie-burn is just another reason to belt out your favorite tunes in the shower. Singing in the shower can burn 136 calories an hour, according to Health. And it also releases endorphins and lowers the stress hormone, cortisol, TIME reports. Here are other wacky ways to burn calories without breaking a sweat.

Side view shot of young woman lying in bathtub with her eyes closed. Female relaxing in bathtub.
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Or take a bath

If you prefer baths, know that just 30 minutes of soaking in the tub could burn 140 calories. The small-sample study by Britain’s Loughborough University found that hot baths and other forms of “passive heating,” such as saunas, could help reduce inflammation too.

papaya salad or Som Tum, Thai food

Eat spicier food

Top your favorite savory dishes with spices such as chili pepper or cayenne pepper. A study from Purdue University showed that cayenne, in particular, helps to increase internal body temperature, boosting your metabolism. Plus, a little spice goes a long way. A mere half of a teaspoon of cayenne, along with your meal, can help suppress appetite, per the study.

Laugh more

Exercising your funny bone can be an effective way to torch calories. Researchers at Vanderbilt University monitored study participants’ emotional reactions to various video clips, finding that the participants who laughed had a 20 percent increase in calorie-burn, Fox News reports. Ten to 15 minutes of “genuine giggling” could burn off the number of calories found in one medium square of chocolate, or enough calories to lose about four and a half pounds per year, according to the study. Next, check out these ways to lose weight without a lick of diet or exercise.