Cardio can take many forms, like testing your rhythm in Zumba or chasing the beat at SoulCycle. However, while you should absolutely include a few intense cardio sessions like dancing, spinning or boxing in your weekly routine to help increase your level of fitness and promote weight loss, there are sneaky ways to add more cardio minutes—or hours—into your overarching total. When it comes to weight loss, especially if you're going after those final, stubborn pounds, every little bit makes a difference. Jim White, RD, ACSM HFS, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios, shared a few tips on how to squeeze a little more movement into your day.
If you want to amp up your calorie burn, then it's time to move it, move it—no sweaty gym clothes required. All you need to do is commit to just a single half hour!
Dusty counters and dirt-covered cars deserve your attention for more reasons than one. Sure, keeping the house clean and the car sparkling in the driveway can be great sources of pride (and keep your mother from lecturing you during family visits), but doing so also forces you to move around. "Keep those arms moving while washing your car or scrubbing that oven," says White. Squatting to reach low corners and stretching to get higher ones recruits different muscles in the body to get the job done. Not to mention, it forces you to move a lot more than if you were sitting on the couch ignoring your chores.
Carrie Bradshaw may have been onto something when she said shopping was her cardio. "Constant walking around, standing in line and bending to pick up that shirt you accidentally dropped all burns extra calories," says White. There's no physical difference between walking on the treadmill and logging those steps in the mall — your body is going through the same motion. However, shopping fits more seamlessly into your day — and hey, you'll probably knock quite a few tasks off your to-do list with the extra motivation to move. Even better, lugging around those shopping bags will make your arms work even harder, contributing to greater overall exertion.
Move Your Conversation
Who says you have to sit down when you're on the phone? We have cell phones for a reason: so we can talk on the go! Pace back and forth in your kitchen, take the conversation outside and walk around the block — whatever you do, just walk and talk. Though it may seem small, any movement added into your day is beneficial to your body. We already spend way too much time sitting at our desks, our dinner tables and the couch going about our business. Use phone calls as an excuse to get up and move around. Even better, you'll be so invested in the conversation that you'll have no idea that you're getting a little bonus exercise.
Sitting for extended periods of time wreaks havoc on your total health. Our bodies were made to be in motion, so give yours a little extra help by simply standing up. "Stand when possible at work. Research has shown that standing burns more calories than sitting, even standing still," says White. Your body has to work to hold itself up because it has nothing supporting it. As a result, you burn more calories.
Go Out For Lunch
You don't need to eat out to go out for lunch. Instead of buying lunch or taking your lunch to go, eat at your desk and then go for a walk on your midday break. Taking a brisk stroll in the afternoon will not only give you a mental break but also help alleviate stiffness, get blood flowing and make your body work a little harder. Even just 15 minutes around the block will tack on some extra cardio to your daily total and bring you closer to your fitness goals. Every little bit adds up. For added burn, take the route that has more hills or inclines to challenge your legs a little more.
If you're one of those people that can't sit still, don't worry about it. Though your fidgeting may bother your cubicle mates, you're actually burning more calories than you would be sitting completely still. "Research by the Mayo Clinic determined that people who fidget burn up to 350 more calories per day," says White. So tap that foot, bounce your leg and fiddle with your pen; doing so will increase your total cardio for the day.
Cut the Commercial
The best way to avoid those annoying commercials is to get up and walk away. "Walk around during commercial breaks in your favorite show. These breaks can easily add up to 20 minutes for an hour-long episode," says White. Even if you're just walking in circles around your living room, your body is in motion and, therefore, burning more calories. If you're feeling a little more adventurous, throw in some sit-ups or jumping jacks during commercial breaks, which will take that added cardio to the next level.
Sure, drinking water encourages weight loss in a number of ways, from filling you up, so you don't overeat, to flushing your system of toxins and eliminating bloat. Even better for your flat-belly goals, the more water you drink, the more trips to the bathroom you'll have to take. Rather than looking at your constantly full bladder as a nuisance, see it as an opportunity to log more steps. Who's to say you have to visit the same bathroom every time, too? If there are bathrooms on different floors in your office building, or even on opposite sides of your floor, take a trip to those occasionally. The farther you travel to the loo, the more calories and fat your body burns.