The Real-Life Way to Lose
Research shows that the little stuff you do all day can add up to big weight loss. Five readers put the theory to the test – with “wow” results
To lose pounds and keep them off, burning calories is key. Not just at the gym; being active throughout the day can add up to big weight loss, too. James Levine, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, has spent a decade studying the role that everyday movement, or NEAT (nonexercise activity thermogenesis), plays in metabolism. His discovery: People who tap their feet, prefer standing to sitting, and generally move a lot burn up to 350 more calories a day than those who sit still. That adds up to nearly 37 pounds a year!
Prevention fitness expert Chris Freytag has come up with a dozen ways to increase your NEAT level and add short bursts of exercise to your day to amplify your calorie burn. We had five busy women road test the tips while wearing a calorie-counting Bodybugg armband
($300; bodybugg. com). The results: They burned as many as 500 extra calories a day – without breaking a sweat – and lost up to 7 pounds during our 2-week test. Here’s how they did it, and how you can, too!
Do crunches in bed
Get a jump start on flatter abs before your feet even hit the floor, says Freytag. Simply draw your knees toward your chest 25 to 50 times to rev your energy, tone your belly, and burn 15 to 20 calories. Add a set at night to double your burn.
BURNS UP TO 20 CALORIES IN LESS THAN 5 MINUTES!
Dance while you dress
When tester Lesa Kennedy flipped on her favorite R & B radio station, she burned 55 extra calories as she got dressed and packed lunch. “The beat inspired me to add shakes and shimmies to my usual routine. My daughter loved it, and we started our day off in a great mood,” she says.
BURNS UP TO 55 CALORIES IN ABOUT AN HOUR
Circle the block
Research shows that the more comfortable your clothes, the more active you’ll be throughout the day. Make it a rule to wear shoes comfy enough for a 5-mile walk, and look for ways to add bits of strolling all day long. Lap the grocery store before you pick up your first item, take a 15-minute midday walk, or try tester Elizabeth Lissmann’s tip: “At work I take the stairs to use a bathroom on a different floor.”
BURNS UP TO 375 CALORIES THROUGHOUT THE DAY
Stand up more
With their jam-packed days, our testers are no strangers to multitasking. But Freytag found that they could boost their metabolism simply by spending more time on their feet. Rather than sitting on a bench while her children played at the park, for example, tester Melissa Fitzgerald walked around the playground area for 15 minutes and melted 50 extra calories. Kennedy torched 120 more calories in an hour by standing during her daughter’s dance class. “All the other moms repeatedly offered me a seat,” she says. “They couldn’t understand why I would want to stand!”
BURNS UP TO 200 CALORIES IN ABOUT AN HOUR
Take a comedy break
Research shows that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes (like when watching a funny half-hour sitcom) can burn about 40 calories. It’s a small number by itself, says Freytag, but a daily chuckle could add up to a loss of about 4 pounds over a year. That motivated Lissmann to look for humor throughout the day, such as watching comedy sketches on YouTube during a lunch break.