[By Winona Lam]
It may sound too good to be true but there are ways we can burn calories without exercising. Known as NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, these activities will boost your body’s ability to burn calories and slim down. Best of all, NEAT are habits you can incorporate into your daily life. Basically, it’s moving around more. Here are a few ideas to help you get moving in the New Year.
Talking with your hands and your body, foot tapping, tapping your hand or fingers on a table and hair twirling all burn calories. In fact, studies have shown that those who do more fidgeting and gesturing can burn as many as 350 extra calories per day — which could add up to 36 pounds lost per year.
Looking for a fun way to burn calories? You’ll be pleased to know that a good laugh actually burns calories. A study conducted at Vanderbilt University demonstrated that real laughter will burn 10 to 20 percent more calories, which means that 10 to15 minutes of laughter per day could increase total calories burned by10 to 40 calories (as much as 4 pounds lost in a year).
Standing burns about 50 percent more calories than sitting. So the next time you are on the train, give up your seat and stand, you will be doing yourself a favour by boosting metabolism and strengthening leg muscles.
If you stand while talking on the phone, working at your computer or reading the paper, a 155-pound person can burn as many as 50 more calories per hour. If you want to up the calorie consumption, pace while you talk and you can burn another 35 to 40 calories per hour.
Walk While You Work
The last time I saw my editor on the treadmill while working on her blackberry, I thought she was mad. Turns out, she was just being an efficient multi-tasker. Burning calories whilst at work may seem taboo at first but once you get the hang of it, you will have one of the fittest bodies in your office. What about using a treadmill and the computer at the same time? Talk about multitasking!
One of my skinny colleague confessed that whenever she has to practice for a presentation, she doesn’t stay seated; she paces up and down the room while mentally rehearsing her speech. She says this keeps her active and animated, and best of all, helps her stay fit and alert at the same time. It is estimated that if people replaced sitting computer time with walking and working, energy expenditure could increase by 100 calories per hour. So if you replace time spent sitting at the computer with walking computer time for two to three hours a day, everything else being equal, you could lose 44 to 60 pounds per year. As with all activity, starting slowly, walking 15 minutes every hour and during all phone calls. For the rest of the time use the desk while seated, and increase the walking portion gradually.
Get a Stepper for Under Your Desk or to Use While Watching TV
Never thought that watching TV or sitting by your desk can be turned into an aerobic activity? Well, think again. Using a mini-stepper under your desk (or in your office) could be an approach to increasing your energy expenditure. According to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, by using the stepper you could burn an additional 100 calories per hour. If the stepping device were used to replace sitting for two hours per day, working at a stand up desk, or if you were to use it under the desk weight loss of 40 or more pounds could occur over the course of the year. Try Gaiam’s mini-stepper (www.gaiam.com).
Drink a Cold Glass of Water
This nifty trick is something everyone can do before a meal. Your body temperature is incredibly hot at approximately 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and ice water is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to maintain homeostasis (a constant internal temperature), your body has to bring that ice water up by about 60 degrees, and, by definition, it takes 1 calorie to raise the temperature of 1 litre of water by approximately 2 degrees Fahrenheit. That means that to raise the temperature of 1 litre of ice water by 60 degrees Fahrenheit, your body would burn about 30 calories. If you start a meal with a tall glass of cold water, you will be burning more calories and filling yourself up at the same time Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
Get Out in the Cold
You actually do burn more calories when it’s cold outside. There are two factors that could cause energy expenditure to increase with falling outdoor temperature. First, if shivering is elicited by cold, then energy expenditure increases. However, different people have differing shivering-response sensitivity, and intensity of shivering will be influenced by magnitude of decrease in body (deep core and skin) temperature, which in turn is influenced by body size and fat content that vary widely among people, as well as clothing worn. The other reason energy expenditure might increase in cold weather is if you perform heavy physical labour (walk in deep snow, carry or wear heavy clothing). Additionally, there is a likelihood that you could have a slight increase in calorie burn (about 3 to 7 percent) from your body re-warming itself from cold air touching your skin and warming the cold air that goes into your lungs. So if you are planning a holiday and want to shed some pounds, choose a wintry location and embrace the chill.