5 Totally Weird Science-Backed Ways to Burn Calories Today (Without Exercising)

Feel better about skipping the gym. (We won't judge.)



We’re all for a good, sweaty, calorie-torching workout here in Be Well Philly Land, but some days — because freezing rain, injury, the new season of House of Cards, duh — a workout just isn’t in the cards. Trust us: We can totally relate. So to help you get the most out of your lazy days, we’ve rounded up five science-backed ways to burn calories without hitting the gym.

1. Turn down the heat.
via Men’s Journal 

If you’re looking to burn calories while sitting at your desk, turn the heat down. Studies show that hanging out in cooler temps activates the brown fat, the type of fat that keeps us warm, in the body. When brown fat is activated, it burns white fat, the kind of fat we put on from lack of exercise and Girl Scout Cookie season.

In one study, participants who sat in a 63-degree room for two hours every day for six weeks lost about five percent of their body fat. So go ahead and turn your thermostat down to 63 degrees — it can’t hurt, right?

2. Watch a horror movie.
via Reader’s Digest 

Full disclaimer: This study was funded by a movie-rental company. But it was performed by bonafide researchers out of the University of Westminster, so there’s that. During the study, researchers showed participants scary movies and monitored their heart rate, oxygen intake and carbon dioxide output.

In the end, they found that watching 90-minutes of an adrenaline-inducing movie burned an average of 113 calories — and the scarier the better. So next time you ditch your workout for a date with Netflix, just make sure you’re watching The Shining.

3. Laugh more.
via USA Today

This study, performed by researchers at Vanderbilt University, placed 45 pairs of friends in metabolic chambers with TVs and alternated showing them 10-minute comedy clips and five-minute videos of sheep wandering around fields of England. They found that when the friends were laughing, they burned 20 percent more calories than when they weren’t. So go ahead and take a break from work to watch this video of a baby tearing paper, and laugh your face off for a few minutes — it’s good for you!

4. Get your fidget on.
via The New York Times

For this study, researchers at the Mayo Clinic outfitted 20 men and women, half lean and half overweight, with carrying sensors that measured their posture and movement every half second, for three 10-day periods. At the end of the study, they found that the overweight group tended to be more sedentary while the leaner folks had a tendency to pace around and fidget throughout the day. And get this: All that fidgeting resulted in about 350 more calories burned each day.

5. Eat a midnight snack. 
via Shape

Seriously! A study out of Florida State University found that fit college-age males who treated themselves to a 150-calorie carb-and-protein-rich shake about 30 to 60 minutes before bed actually increased their metabolisms. “If you exercise regularly, eating some small portions before bed can ramp up morning metabolism,” study researcher Mike Ormsbee told Shape.

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