Weird ways to burn calories: Health experts reveal habits that don't include sweat sessions at the gym

28 December 2023, Baden-Württemberg, Uttenweiler: A jogger is out and about against the light of the rising sun. Photo: Thomas Warnack/dpa (Photo by Thomas Warnack/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Losing weight may be tough, and it requires discipline.

Yet when combined with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise, a host of surprising actions can help you move the needle on the scale.

"Successful weight loss is a journey that requires dedication and perseverance," said Michael Hamlin, a Canada-based personal trainer and founder of EverFlex Fitness with over 15 years of experience in the field.

"While a healthy diet and regular exercise are essential, incorporating unexpected and enjoyable activities into your routine can help you burn more calories and stay motivated on the path to a happier, healthier you," Hamlin told Fox News Digital.

Here are 10 somewhat unusual or perhaps little-known ways — all easy to pull off — to burn more calories throughout the day.

1. Laugh More

Here's a fun way to burn calories: "Studies have shown that laughing for just 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn up to 40 calories. When you laugh, your body's muscles contract and expand, which increases your heart rate and oxygen consumption," Harmlin said.

Harmlin added that laughter can cause your body to burn more calories than when you're resting.

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"Additionally, laughing can reduce stress levels, which can decrease the levels of the hormone cortisol in your body," he continued/

He said high levels of cortisol have been linked to weight gain.

2. Park further away from your destination

Andrew Blakey, head trainer At Your Future Fitness in Toronto, is a proponent of hopping off transportation farther away from your destination or parking your car in a spot where you need to walk more.

"Small habits tend to add up when it comes to weight loss," Blakey said.

"Parking further away or getting off the subway or transit a stop earlier than normal can be enough to help promote additional movement into your day," said Blakey.

"Not only will you be getting in extra steps, you'll also be promoting additional blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which can help with productivity when you get to work," he added.

3. Walk after meals

Instead of sitting down some more after a meal, try lacing up your shoes for a brisk walk.

"When you walk after meals, you are directly sending energy from your food into your cells, lowering the post-meal blood sugar spike and using the energy right away," said Anne Murray, fitness trainer owner of Nourished By Anne LLC in Austin, Texas.

Just a walk around the block or to your driveway and back is better than nothing, experts say.

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And once you’re out of the house, you may surprise yourself by walking for longer than you thought.

Bria Gadd, a Toronto-based integrative nutritionist, echoed this sentiment.

He's also a holistic health coach and personal trainer who hosts "The Period Whisperer Podcast." 

"Ten minutes of movement post-meal can significantly reduce glucose spikes in the body, reducing the workload on the body and allowing the body to respond more efficiently in digestion and shift into fat burning mode," Gadd told Fox News Digital.

4. Do some chores

Small tasks like taking out the recycling and folding laundry will get you moving. 

WebMD reports, for example, that vacuuming "for 30 minutes can burn 99 calories if you’re 120 pounds, 124 calories if you’re 150 pounds and 166 calories if you’re 200 pounds."

Mowing the lawn for 30 minutes can burn up to 200 calories for a 185-pound person, the health news site said in 2021.

But as health coach Fran Kilinski points out, if you want to shed serious pounds, you'll have to work at it.

"Losing weight and the speed with which you lose it depend on a multitude of factors, like consistent exercise, diet, food timing, metabolism and genetics," said Kilinski, who is the owner of NYC-based wellness brand Levolution Athletics and writes the High Performance Health newsletter on Substack.

"Instead of focusing on restrictive dieting and grueling workouts, however, it might make more sense to focus on boosting metabolism with non-exercise activity, like household chores or walking your dog," he said.

5. Pace around your house

Try taking a stroll around your apartment, office or around town if you arrive early to meet a friend for lunch.

"Pacing is another strange but effective habit for facilitating weight loss," Kilinski said.

"While typically associated with anxiety and worry, pacing actually helps get extra steps in, keeps body heat high and can also help keep joints in the lower extremities from stiffening."

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Kilinski added that those who head to the gym in the evening might make it a point to pace throughout the day to keep muscles limber. 

6. Do some deep breathing

Taking four to five slow, deep breaths before you eat, Gadd claims, can have a significant impact on the body's ability to burn calories versus storing them.

"Conscious breathing will help to settle our central nervous system, keeping our body out of fight or flight mode, where it focuses on storing calories for the response to the current stressful situation," she said.

"Eating and drinking from a place of calm will keep the metabolism in calorie-burning mode," Gadd added.

7. Take cold showers

If you can handle washing in chilly water, consider this tip from Hamlin. 

"When exposed to cold temperatures, our bodies have two types of fat cells: white fat and brown fat," said Hamlin.

"Taking cold showers is thought to activate brown fat by causing it to burn calories in order to generate heat and maintain your body's core temperature," he said.

The cold-shower process is known as thermogenesis, said Hamlin, and it can help to increase the number of calories your body burns throughout the day.

8. Do calf raises while you cook

When Karisa Karmali, a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, is cooking, she embraces a workout move: calf raises.

"When I am preparing anything in the kitchen —  a meal or snack — I do calf raises while standing, which is a low-impact exercise we can do while getting things done around the house," said Karmali, who is founder of Self-Love and Fitness in Canada.

To do calf raises, simply stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and then stand up onto your tippy-toes and slowly lower yourself back down to the floor, she said.

Bonus idea: When Karmali is feeling extra lazy and ready for sleep, instead of skipping her workout altogether, she does flutter kicks, leg raises and glute bridges in her pajamas (about 20 reps each).

9. Get enough sleep

During sleep, the body goes into repair and recovery mode, noted Murray. 

"Better sleep equals better hormone function," she said — and "you'll be less likely to overeat."

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Also, "your stress hormone cortisol won't be as high. Excess cortisol can lead to fat gain."

10. Set a daily step goal on your smartwatch

Do this to remind yourself when it's time to get up and walk around throughout the day, Blakey recommends.

"Often the reason many people don't get enough steps in a day is simply because they don't think about it," he said.

"Setting up your watch to buzz at a certain per-hour step goal is both easy and effective in helping to promote additional steps (which will burn more calories) throughout your day," he said.

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