Sneaky Ways to Burn More Calories

Long before gyms, Spin classes, exercise videos and other formal fitness programs became popular, people stayed in shape without even thinking about physical activity. They walked because cars hadn’t been invented. They washed dishes and did laundry by hand because that was their only option. They trudged up and down stairs because they didn’t have a choice.

I’m not saying that everything about the “good old days” was better (um, hello corsets!), or that all modern-day inventions are evil (I love my iPad and my electric toothbrush), but when it comes to weight loss, we could learn a thing or two from our ancestors.

For instance, the next time you have a choice between stairs or an elevator, take the stairs. You can either walk all the way up or, if your destination is on a very high floor, just part of the way. When it comes to escalators, don’t let them do all the work for you—climb as fast as you can. You’ll get to your destination faster and build super-strong leg muscles to boot. If you take mass transit to your office, get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way. If you drive, park farther away. If you need to pick up your child from a friend’s house, walk instead of hopping in the car.

The bottom line is this: The calories you burn just by doing one activity “the old-fashioned way” have a nice way of adding up. Even if it’s just an extra 50 calories per day, that still leaves you five pounds lighter in a year’s time. Not too shabby!

And don’t forget about your diet—small tweaks can make a big difference. Check out these 12 Skinny Foods.