10 Ways to Work Out Without Even Meaning To (PHOTOS)

Maressa Brown | Sep 25, 2014 Healthy Living
10 Ways to Work Out Without Even Meaning To (PHOTOS)

woman running with her dog

If just hearing the word "workout" is enough to make you want to stick to the couch, you're not alone. Having one more form of "work" is the last thing most of us need! The good news is that getting your fitness on doesn't always have to be so formal.

"Picking up around the house, moving from sitting to standing, and playing active games with your children are all activities that serve to strengthen our muscles without feeling like you are working out!" says Angeles Burke, A.F.A.A. certified group fitness instructor and fitness director for energy drink Celsius.

One of the main reasons they offer such a great payoff: "Your core muscles remain activated when doing these activities," she explains. (Stand up tall and think about engaging your core instead of rounding your back or slouching for the best results, Burke advises.)

And, as it turns out, many everyday activities you're already doing double as a weight training and/or cardio workout!

gardening workout

Check out some of the top calorie-burners and muscle-toning daily to-dos below, then tell us:

Which of these everyday activities have you noticed a fitness payoff from?

Images via iStock.com/sisy_12 & iStock.com/Mlenny

  • Carrying your child


    Image via iStock.com/Grafissimo

    You may think nothing of picking up your baby or toddler while chatting on the phone or doing errands, but it definitely pays off with calorie-torching. Carrying a 15-pound child for 30 minutes burns 119 calories, notes Burke. Not to mention all the toning it's doing for your arms!

  • Walking the dog


    Image via iStock.com/sonyae

    Simply incorporating walking into your day -- whether it's to the office or the park with your dog -- totally counts as exercise! "Walk your dog, walk to work. Even at a slower pace, walking can burn calories," says Ramona Braganza, Gold's Gym celebrity trainer, who has worked with star moms Jessica Alba and Halle Berry. Only 20 minutes of walking at a 3.0 mph pace burns 100 calories.

    For extra payoff: "Park farther away from the mall or from work, especially as the holidays begin, and walk briskly like you're late for an appointment to burn more calories," Braganza recommends.

  • Standing


    Image via iStock.com/Diego_Cervo

    No matter where you are -- a football game, in front of your own TV, or on the train -- if you have the option to stand instead of sit, do it! "Standing for an hour burns approximately 50 more calories than sitting," explains Braganza. "This adds up! Over 5 days, that’s 750 calories, and over a year, that’s 30,000 calories!"

  • Cooking


    Image via iStock.com/ariwasabi

    Depending on what you're preparing (and noshing on while preparing!), you may think it doesn't count, but the truth is that cooking for 30 minutes can burn 100 calories. Hey, running the show in your kitchen and getting dinner on the table is hard work!

  • Yardwork


    Image via iStock.com/CandyBoxImages

    Raking leaves for 30 minutes burns 225 calories, and because you're getting some pushback or resistance from the leaves, it's considered a form of weight training. And don't think you can't get your yardwork calorie-burn on in the winter. "Shoveling snow, 15 minutes of which burns 100 calories, is excellent conditioning for the back, abs, even legs and glutes!" notes Braganza. Just take certain precautions to do it safely: "Make sure to bend your knees when lifting the snow to protect your lower back muscles, and switch sides frequently," she advises.

  • Cleaning


    Image via iStock.com/Anmfoto

    Cleaning around the house may not be your absolute favorite thing to do, but it sure is a multitasking fitness routine! "Cleaning activates muscles of the back, as we are often pushing when we clean," explains Braganza. "In addition, muscles of the chest, shoulders, and smaller muscles, like biceps and triceps, come into play." Bonus: Using just moderate effort to dust, vacuum, and wipe down floors, windows, or counters can burn 100 calories in 30 minutes. 

  • Shopping


    Image via iStock.com/BowdenImages

    Want to train your arms and shoulders? Just hit up the grocery store! Getting your produce-picking on also serves as a bit of cardio. "Shopping for groceries, then carrying your bags to your car taking around 38 minutes will burn 100 calories," explains Braganza.

  • Having sex


    Image via iStock.com/GlobalStock

    Among the many benefits of getting it on with your honey? An unintentional workout! Just 20 minutes a day (including some foreplay) will burn 100 calories. Plus, you'll get some toning in, too: "I would say many muscles -- including pelvic floor, hips legs, abs, core, and arms -- are used during sex," says Braganza.

  • Taking the stairs


    Image via iStock.com/lzf

    We've all heard this one before, but that's because it is so true that taking the stairs beats standing on an escalator or using the elevator. Even going up and down your own stairs at home counts! "Going up and down the stairs with laundry or while shopping burns 9 calories per minute of climbing," says Braganza.

  • Gardening


    Image via iStock.com/skynesher

    Gardening, whether you're pulling weeds or planting flowers, can burn up to 400 calories an hour! Plus, because you have to constantly go from squatting to standing, bending, and reaching, you're sure to get a good stretch on, too. That's enough to get anyone striving for a greener thumb, right?


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