Eight surprising ways to burn calories while you're at home

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Surprising ways to burn calories during lockdown; woman gardening

From clipping flowers to cuddling, here are some of the more unexpected ways that you can shed the pounds while social distancing

If you wince at the thought of running or cycling to lose weight, don't lose heart as there are numerous other ways to keep in trim while restrictions are in place. And some of them will enhance your life in other ways, too...

Throughout this coronavirus lockdown, the government has been encouraging us to take exercise in order to maintain good physical and mental health. Though gyms and health centres are closed, millions of people have made the most of the limited freedoms we have – not to mention the glorious sunshine – by heading outside for a daily walk, cycle or run. 

But if you're not keen on those activities – or for some reason you're unable to do them – there are many other, surprising ways you can burn calories while staying at home. And some of these will enhance your life in other ways, too...

1. Household chores

Surprising ways to burn calories during lockdown; man vacuuming

Not many of us look forward to tidying or cleaning our homes, but carrying out those necessary jobs around the house can do wonders for your waistline. In a recent study by Good Housekeeping, the average subject burned 602 calories by undertaking two hours of dusting, mopping, vacuuming and window cleaning, but only 374 calories during a 5k run. Of those chores, dusting was the biggest calorie burner, with 194 calories being shed in 40 minutes.

• Read our guide to spring cleaning your home

2. Dancing 

Surprising ways to burn calories during lockdown; couple dancing

Those of us who participate in dance classes and groups have been left frustrated as sessions have been cancelled due to the coronavirus, reducing our weekly exercise (not to mention our social lives!). But there's nothing stopping you from selecting your favourite radio station or playlist and pulling some shapes at home. According to Active.com, just half an hour's dancing can burn between 200-400 calories, with zumba and belly dancing being among the most effective types. Dancing can also have a positive neurological impact, as this study from Harvard Medical School highlights.

3. Cuddling

Surprising ways to burn calories during lockdown; couple cuddling

In these challenging times, a bit of affection can really lift the spirits. But it may also help you to keep in trim. A study by Harvard Medical School found that subjects dosed with the 'love hormone' oxytocin – which is released naturally during the act of cuddling and kissing – consumed significantly fewer calories during a test meal than those who were given a placebo. Who knows – a bit of a squeeze every now and again might also have a positive impact on your relationship. 

4. Running up the stairs

Surprising ways to burn calories during lockdown; walking up stairs

Providing you don't live in a bungalow, you'll have access to a highly effective piece of aerobic equipment in your home – namely, the stairs. According to Business Insider, hot-footing up and down steps for an hour can burn more than 800 calories. You would need to be pretty fit to keep going for that long, though, so be wary of your limits – even walking up and down a few times a day will make a difference. 

5. Standing up while video chatting

Exercising during lockdown; woman chatting

The easing of some lockdown restrictions means that we're now able to meet up with members of our family to a degree. However, the trend of video chatting on platforms such as Zoom, WhatsApp and Skype is likely to continue for a while yet – and you can burn some calories by standing up while you natter. According to Healthline, standing up for an hour burns between 100 and 200 calories, compared to 60-130 calories if you spend the same amount of time sitting down. Losing weight while socialising with your loved ones – what's not to like? 

• Read our guide to communicating with loved ones online

6. Laughing

Surprising ways to burn calories during lockdown; couple laughing

You may not feel like laughing at the moment, what with everything that's going on in the world, but the benefits of a good chuckle are manifold. Apart from the impact it can have on your mood (they don't say 'laughter is the best medicine' for nothing), research by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center has shown that giggling for 10-15 minutes a day can burn between 10 to 40 calories. That might not sound like a lot, but it equates to around four pounds per year, bringing a whole new meaning to the term 'belly laughs'.

7. Tai chi

Surprising ways to burn calories during lockdown; tai chi

As a form of meditation, tai chi doesn't immediately spring to mind when you think of activities that might help you lose weight. But it's reckoned that the slow, graceful movements of this Chinese martial art can burn almost 300 calories per hour. Tai chi can bring numerous other benefits, too – according to this article published by PsychCentral, it can help to improve muscle strength, balance and cognitive function, and even extend your life expectancy. 

• Read our tips on finding inner calm

8. Gardening

Surprising ways to burn calories during lockdown; man gardening

There are numerous jobs to do in the garden at this time of year, and getting through them can really help you to get a sweat on. According to WebMD, weeding and planting flowers burns between 200 and 400 calories per hour, while mowing the lawn can help you shed a further 250-350 calories per hour. You can give yourself an even better workout by exchanging electric garden tools for hand-held ones – it'll take a little longer to carry out tasks, but your waistline will thank you for it!

Have you lost weight just by carrying out daily activities at home? Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter

All photos: Getty Images

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