Are you tired of regimented exercise, making time to fit a structured, often boring, workout into your busy day? You may not have to! Every time you move, you burn calories and use different muscle groups. Structured, regimented, quantified exercise is a relatively new creation of modern life. Yes, we need to be physically fit in order to maintain good overall health, but do we really need to go to the gym to do it? Not if we strategically incorporate plenty of movement into our day according to the original Silver Disobedient, Dian Griesel, in her book, TurboCharged: The Silver Disobedience Edition. “To be effective, activity doesn’t have to leave you breathless and perspiring,” says Griesel. “A moderate and consistent increase in your daily activity, day after day, is much more effective than random spurts on a weekend.”

Doctors and researchers agree. By incorporating more activities into your day, you are able to burn more calories and use more muscle groups than you would in a standard trip to the gym. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis or NEAT is the term researches use to describe all those activities we do throughout the day that burn calories and use energy, but are not regimented exercise. “Think, using the stairs, vacuuming, mopping the floors, standing at the sink to do the dishes, making beds, walking to work,” says Griesel. Activities that are simply part of daily life that require physical movement can end up burning more calories than sitting all day and then going to the gym for thirty minutes. Endocrinologist and researcher, James Levine, who coined the term NEAT, told the Washington Post, “Our research showed that you can take two adults of the same weight and one can burn an extra 350 [calories per day] simply by getting rid of labor-saving devices and moving more throughout the day.” (For reference, a 155-pound person who spent 30 minutes on a stair machine would burn 223 calories.).” The labor-saving devices he is talking about are things like dishwashers, robotic vacuums, elevators, etc. 

If you are curious about how many calories each physical activity burns, TurboCharged includes a list of caloric burn rates for a ton of daily activities. For example, mopping the floors burns 5.3 calories per minute. Do it for 30 minutes, and you’ve burned 150 calories. Add in hanging laundry for 15 minutes at 4.7 calories per minute, and you’re at 220 calories already with just those two chores. So, rather than sourcing out all your household chores or using technology like dishwashers and robotic vacuums to do it for you, consider getting up and getting active to burn more fat. If you’re in an office, consider a standing desk, take walking breaks, grab a set of dumbbells or resistance bands and get creative at your desk. Every action counts!

Another important point Griesel makes in her book, TurboCharged, is that strenuous physical activity, like the kind we force upon ourselves at a gym, can sometimes create too much stress on the body, causing it to retain fat. “Simply being active and adding walking to your day can burn more calories without the dread and stress of a trip to the gym,” says Griesel. That’s good news for all of us who disklike the gym or can’t find a way to get it in their schedule!

Feeling young at heart

Start focusing on activity that you can be easily incorporated into your life, and not only will you start to get in better shape, but you might even have a cleaner house! “You would be amazed the upper body workout you get from scrubbing a shower from top to bottom,” says Griesel. “I grew up in a house where my parents equally shared household chores and the health and fitness of my parents showcased that.” If you want more ideas of everyday physical activity to incorporate into your life or guidance and a plan to master your fat-burning goals, grab a copy of TurboCharged!