23 lazy ways to burn more kilojoules every day

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

Get a good night’s sleep
Perhaps the easiest way to burn more kilojoules 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.” Learn more about how to sleep away your weight woes.

Increase protein throughout the day
Burn kilojoules 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 kilojoules 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.

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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 kilojoules. 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. Here are 12 more weight loss hacks you can do right now. 

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 kilojoules 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 kilojoules.”

Follow the 6/60 rule
Adams’ favourite 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. Take these other simple steps towards a healthier you.

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, analysed 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 3.5kg while the ones who exercised for 60 minutes per day lost only 2.7kg. 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!”

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 kilojoules 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.” Don’t miss these 50 other ways to boost your metabolism.

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 to your everyday activities, including grocery shopping, walking to the bus, and even puttering around the house. “This can help improve vascularisation, minimise stubborn belly fat, and burn kilojoules,” he says. Here are 8 weight loss roadblocks that could be holding you back.

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 840 to 2100 kilojoules burned an hour!” Here are 10 leisure activities that burn more kilojoules than you’d think.

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 kilojoules 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 1250 to 2100 kilojoules depending on the size of the vehicle.”

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 kilojoules burned to warm up those liquids.”

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Turn the heat down
Like drinking ice-cold beverages, hanging out in a cold room has kilojoule-burning benefits too. Research by the National Institutes of Health has shown that exposure to cold temperatures can trigger kilojoule-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.

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 kilojoules. “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.”

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 85 to 210 kilojoules an hour, according to Edwards. “Stand for four hours a day and that is 1675 kilojoules burned; over a five day work week – you have just shaved off 8,400 kilojoules!” she adds. “Keep doing the math and it comes out to an extra 418,400 kilojoules a year.” Learn the 9 ways to lose your love handles – without a lick of exercise.

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 kilojoules 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 minimise a double chin.”

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Mow your lawn
Edwards recommends ditching the riding mower for an old school push mower to burn 1250 kilojoules an hour (instead of the 420 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. 

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 kilojoules 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!” Here are 5 ways to trick your fat genes and keep the weight off. 

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. Here are 5 drinks that will help you lose weight.

Watch a scary movie
Although watching TV seems counterintuitive to burning kilojoules, tuning in to a specific type of TV-watching could slash extra kilojoules. A study by the University of Westminster found that watching 90 minutes of an “adrenaline-inducing” movie could burn an average of 473 kilojoules, with the film The Shining reportedly burning the most kilojoules, 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 kilojoules, the Telegraph reports. Here are 22 surprising movie trivia facts.

Sing in the shower
Extra kilojoule-burn is just another reason to belt out your favourite tunes in the shower. Singing in the shower can burn 570 kilojoules an hour, according to Health. And it also releases endorphins and lowers the stress hormone, cortisol, TIME reports.

Or take a bath
If you prefer baths, know that just 30 minutes of soaking in the tub could burn 585 kilojoules. 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.

Eat spicier food
Top your favourite savoury dishes with spices such as chilli 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 kilojoules. 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 kilojoule-burn, Fox News reports. Ten to 15 minutes of “genuine giggling” could burn off the number of kilojoules found in one medium square of chocolate, or enough kilojoules to lose about two kilograms per year, according to the study. Have a giggle over these funny weight loss stories we’ve all been through.

This article first appeared on Reader's Digest