Here’s your go-to list of ideas for fun ways to burn more calories this summer. I bet many of them will surprise you!
Setting goals for our physical health is just as important as setting goals for our emotional health. This month’s Self-Care Sunday series is filled with hacks to help you set physical health goals and meet them in creative ways.
“I can’t believe I burned a thousand calories today,” I exclaimed. “Who knew that raking, hoeing, and weed-pulling for five hours would burn so many calories?”
“Cool,” Pedro replied, seemingly unimpressed with my accomplishment.
“I’ve never burned that many calories mountain biking with you,” I added for good measure.
“We’ve never been out mountain biking for five hours, either,” he reminded me.
“Good point. Well, seeing how many calories I burned made all the hard work worth it.”
Not everyone needs constant encouragement from a fitness tracker to stay active, but I don’t come by my active lifestyle naturally. Sure, I spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid, and my family set an example of participating in outdoor activities. But give me a choice between a good book and gardening, and I’d chose the good book every time.
But I also have a competitive streak, so that makes a fitness tracker the perfect companion for my quest to stay physically active even when I don’t feel like it.
I owned a FitBit for years and transitioned to an Apple watch last summer. Both platforms have great ways to motivate you to compete against yourself, or someone else. And I need that competition element in order to set down my book and get off the couch.
I know the importance of setting physical health goals, because I’ve failed to set goals and ended up with a plethora of problems (both physical and emotional). As a middle-aged woman with the metabolism of a sloth, I’ve found lots of ways to burn more calories.
I make no claims as to how many calories you’ll burn participating in these activities, but all of them beat sitting on the couch. Each person burns calories differently, depending on their unique physiology and current weight.Each person burns calories differently, depending on their unique physiology and current weight. #onsizedoesntfitall #calories #selfcare Click To Tweet
If I ran five miles, for example, I would burn about 420 calories. Pedro would burn 745. If you don’t have a fitness tracker that keeps track for you, this handy chart will help you. https://www.nutristrategy.com/activitylist.htm
Inside Ways to Burn More Calories
1. Sit on a yoga ball. I don’t have a desk chair, I have a yoga ball. Staying upright helps build core muscles, and when I hit a snag or a lull in my work I can bounce away for a minute or so to get my blood pumping.
2. Play some tunes and dance while you dust. I need to do this one today. Dusting and I have a forget-me kind of relationship, but music will make it better.
3. Play an instrument. Believe it or not, playing an instrument burns calories, too. Drum playing and guitar playing top the list. If you’ve wanted to learn how to play an instrument or want to brush off long-forgotten skills, know that doing so will help you burn calories.
4. Cooking or baking burns calories. If you make fresh, homemade bread, (link to bread recipe) you’ll burn even more calories with your upper body workout.
5. Create a TikTok dance video with your tween or teen. Never heard of TikTok? Me neither. But I’ve seen some cute ones of parents and kids dancing together. This tutorial will explain TikTok. Just make sure you spend more time creating than you do consuming.
6. Fidget. Pedro swears by this (and his weight seldom changes, no matter how much sugar he eats). He usually leg fidgets by bouncing one leg behind the other while he sits. This tends to wear out his pant legs, but if it keeps his metabolism who, who cares?
7. Aerobic vacuuming. We have one of those Dyson stick vacuums that only has seven minutes of battery life when it uses full power. I vacuum right after I take a walk outside when my heartrate is elevated. Tacking on seven more minutes of activity keeps my heartrate up AND gets half of my house clean.
Solo Outdoors Activities to that Will Burn More Calories
8. Mow the lawn. Even mowing using a riding lawn mower will burn more calories than sitting on the coach. But if you want a real aerobic workout, use a non-motorized push mower.
9. Go on a photo walk. Grab your smartphone or camera and walk around your neighborhood during the golden hours (around sunrise and sunset). Record the beauty you see. Make a special folder on your phone of beautiful memories to help boost your mood.
10. Pull some weeds. Even if you don’t have a garden, no one will stop you from pulling weeds. Palmer, Alaska has a community garden in giant containers along a walking path. The community (or tourists) can pull a few weeds as they walk, or pick and enjoy a ripe tomato.
11. Get a pet (or walk your pet more often). I suppose I should clarify that you’ll want a pet that likes to take walks. I’ve heard pigs like to walk with people, but some breeds of cats and most dogs enjoy going for a walk every day. Spending time with your pet has other health benefits, too.
12. Discover edibles in your neighborhood or favorite state park. Buy a guide to edible plants and discover the edible eats growing all around you. The variety and flavors might surprise you. Some books even have recipes.
13. Go birdwatching. Merlin, a free bird ID app, can help you get started. An inexpensive pair of binoculars helps, too. Who knows? Birdwatching (called ‘twitching’ in England for some reason), can turn into a life-long learning passion. And life-long learning helps prevent Alzheimer’s.
14. Chop some wood. If you don’t have wood to chop, find an elderly person who does. You’ll build muscle and help someone else.
Improve Your Physical Health With Someone Else
15. Run through the sprinklers with your kids (or someone’s kids). Having kids nearby makes you look legit, not just like some crazy adult who can’t resist sprinklers. On second thought, who cares? Run through sprinklers, jump over them, and release your inner child.
16. Go mushroom hunting. Check out this guide for beginners and stay safe. You’ll spend time in nature and come home with something to eat. Even better, go mushrooming with an experienced forager. Having a reliable field guide like this one or this one will help keep you safe.
17. Learn bushcraft (aka survival techniques). If you have older kids, they will love this stuff. We spent hours each summer learning how to use knives and axes, how to cook over a campfire and tie knots to build camp stools. This handy guide written by a survival expert will get you started.
18. Go fish. No, not the game, just go fishing. It burns calories, too. Just make sure you have the proper license for your fishing hole. You can choose to catch and release, or practice your bushcraft and eat what you catch.
19. Wash your dog. Yep, that burns calories, too. Our German Shepherds mistook themselves for black labs and would spend hours playing in the water. Bring out the bottle of doggy shampoo, though, and things changed. Definitely an aerobic exercise.
20. Get ready for winter. If you have a wood stove, make a family affair of harvesting firewood from your local state or national forest. Permits cost very little. We usually harvested enough wood to heat our house for a Montana winter for under $60. You’ll need a chainsaw and a pickup. Or you could rent a U-Haul truck.
Burn More Calories Together
21. Set up your badminton set and start playing! This will require at least one other person. If your badminton skills look like mine, you’ll burn extra calories laughing at yourself.
22. Dust off the croquet set and find some friends (or just practice so you’ll improve your skills). Croquet burns calories, too. Even better, organize a lawn party and
23. Toss it! If you’ve never played Cornhole before, you’re missing out. You’ll need a partner (or you can play in teams of two). Beware this addictive sport that will leave your arms aching the next day. The perfect upper-body workout that just feels like fun.
24. Have a water fight. Preferably outside. Nothing gets your heart pumping like trying to avoid a cold stream of water. Bring out the big water guns, use water-filled balloons or water sources and containers for each team.
25. Coach soccer for little ones. Coaches benefit from coaching a sport—I had no idea. But it makes sense because you’ll model the drills and run up and down the field encouraging your team.
26. Play Frisbee golf. Our local golf course has a Frisbee golf course along the same pathway. Many parks have courses set up, too. You dust off the Frisbee from your garage or purchase a set of special ones. This how-to guide will get you started Some people call this disc golf. Whatever you call it, it doesn’t cost as much to get started as playing regular golf.
27. Hula hoop. Invest in hula hoops for the entire family and hold competitions. Both the laughter and the movement will burn calories.
24. Ride a horse. Yes, horseback riding burns calories—especially if you ride English and you post to the horse’s trot.
Use These Calorie Burners Year-Round
29. Park in the back 40. I always park as far away from the entrance to stores as I can. It takes less time to park far away and walk than it does to do circles looking for a perfect spot close to the entrance.
30. Drink cold water before any activity. That’s right. Drinking cold water can boost your metabolism by up to 30% for about 90 minutes.Check out this list of 30 unusual ways to burn more calories. #30 can help you every single day. #selfcare #calories #selfcarehacks Click To Tweet
But Don’t Beat Yourself Up!
Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up. Remember, in order to improve your physical health you need to keep a positive mindset AND schedule time in each day for physical activity.
Warmer weather and longer days provide the perfect opportunity to get outside and enjoy life at a different pace. If you have children, they can join you for many of these activities—which provides a great way to build relationships with the people that mean the most to you.
What fun ways have you discovered to burn more calories in the summer?