5 Ways to Burn Calories Without Exercise

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Do you know how many extra calories you can burn with simple changes to your lifestyle? It turns out that you don't have to go to the gym to burn more calories and lose weight. The little things you do during the day make a big difference in your metabolism. Use these tips to change your daily routine, boost your calorie burn, and burn calories without exercise.

How to Burn Calories Without Exercise

If you want to burn more calories all day long, experts will tell you to increase your NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This is a fancy term for all of the movement you do that is not vigorous enough to be called a workout. According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, NEAT could play a major role in whether or not you lose or gain weight. And it may affect your risk of obesity.

So, how many calories can your NEAT burn? It varies, but the number could be significant. According to one study, because everyone's activity level is so different, calories burned from NEAT can vary from person to person by up to 2000 calories per day.

So, how do you take advantage of this calorie-burning benefit? Start with these small changes or get creative and try some of your own ideas.

Burn Calories at the Office

Having a sedentary job isn't a direct cause of obesity, but sitting for extended periods could become a cause of weight gain in some people. The American Heart Association reported that "obese individuals appear to exhibit an innate tendency to be seated for 2.5 hours per day more than sedentary lean counterparts."

Researchers estimated that if obese individuals could adopt the NEAT habits of their lean counterparts, they could burn an additional 350 calories per day. That calorie deficit could result in several pounds lost each month.

If you have a desk job, get up and move for at least 15 minutes every hour. Take a walk to the restroom, go to the water cooler, run an errand, take the stairs instead of the elevator or do your filing from a standing rather than seated position.

Get an activity tracker that will give you prompts to get up and start moving. Or grab a few co-workers and make increasing your NEAT part of a healthy office routine. Many people lose weight at work with these simple but effective strategies.

Burn Calories While You Relax

How many hours will you spend in front of the television tonight? You can burn extra calories by simply adding some light activity to your TV viewing and relaxation time. Fold laundry, dust furniture or sweep the floor while you watch television. You can even do a full workout on your couch to burn up to 250 calories. Not only will the activity boost your caloric expenditure, but you will eat less in front of the television if your hands are busy.

You can even burn calories during other leisure activities. If you like to talk on the phone, walk around during your chat instead of sitting down. And try to limit entertainment-related computer time to 15-minute intervals.

Burn Calories With the Kids

Teaching your children to increase their daily activity may save them from weight gain in the future. And it will help you, too.

If you want to burn calories without exercise, find ways to increase your walking time during the day. Walk the kids to school or to the bus stop. If you drive them, choose a parking spot at the back of the lot and use those extra steps to chat with them about their day. 

And parents, if you are tempted to scold your kids for fidgeting, you might want to think twice. According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, fidgeting is a common form of NEAT and can contribute to a healthy metabolism.

Burn Calories With Household Chores

Household chores can burn a few hundred calories per hour. The actual number depends on your size and gender.

For example, a petite woman burns about 160 calories per hour doing moderate chores while a larger man would burn substantially more. But who would have thought that sweeping your floor could cause weight loss?

Grab a mop and do a housecleaning workout to burn calories and tidy up at the same time. Once the cleaning is done, there are always organizational tasks that can help you improve your energy balance. Organize your closet, unpack boxes or clean the garage to increase your NEAT.

Burn Calories at Social Events

How many times have you entered a party in a friend's home and scanned the room for a comfy place to sit? The next time you go to a party, burn extra calories by becoming more social.

Choose to stand or circle the room and talk to as many party goers as possible. Offer to help in the kitchen, take a tour of the garden or greet guests at the door to stay active. You'll be the life of the party and increase your NEAT at the same time.

A Word From Verywell

Exercise is a smart addition to any weight loss program. But going to the gym is not the only way to change your body. You can burn calories without exercise, as well.

If you're not sure how NEAT can make a difference, use an activity monitor to track your daily movement. These tools can provide a general estimate of your daily calories burned both at the gym and in your home or workplace.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. von Loeffelholz C, Birkenfeld A. The role of non-exercise activity thermogenesis in human obesity. Endotext [Internet]. 2018 Apr 9. MDText. com, Inc.

  2. Levine JA. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Dec;16(4):679-702.

  3. Chung N, Park MY, Kim J, et al. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): a component of total daily energy expenditureJ Exerc Nutrition Biochem. 2018;22(2):23‐30. doi:10.20463/jenb.2018.0013

  4. Levine J, Schleusner S, Jensen M. Energy expenditure of nonexercise activityAm J Clin Nutr. 2000;72(6):1451-1454. doi:10.1093/ajcn/72.6.1451

Additional Reading
  • Frey, M. (2011) Interview with Hanna Curlee, runner up on "The Biggest Loser" season 11.

  • James A. Levine, Mark W. Vander Weg, James O. Hill, Robert C. Klesges. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. January 18, 2006.

By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.