Weight gain is commonly blamed on factors such as overeating, unhealthy food choices, and in some cases, genetics. But a recent study shows that inactivity and lack of exercise are the top reasons many Americans become overweight.
The Stanford University study examined nutrition and exercise habits of thousands of men and women over the course of several years. Researchers learned that although these individuals consumed roughly the same amount of calories, those that remained inactive were more prone to weight gain.
The study authors say that factors such as the Internet, smartphones, and continuous improvements in digital technology are some of the leading culprits behind lack of physical activity in the U.S. Experts recommend that overweight individuals start making minor adjustments to their daily routines to allow for more movement and physical activity.
Need more exercise in your day? Check out the following creative ways to burn more calories during your normal daily routine.
Take your phone for a walk
If the idea of spending time away from your smartphone causes separation anxiety, take it with you for a walk. There are thousands of fitness and game apps devoted to helping you get into shape and stay fit. Download apps that track your distance using GPS, or games that turn exercise into a fun, action-packed adventure such as Pokemon Go or Zombies, Run!
Alternately, call your friends and family to catch up while strolling around your neighborhood, or download a music app that allows you to discover new tunes in your favorite genre. Walk for at least 30 minutes per day to benefit from weight loss, increased energy, and better overall health.
Spend a few hours shopping
Have you ever noticed how draining and tiring a full day of shopping can be? Shopping burns more calories than you may be aware, even when you’re strolling along at a relatively slow pace. Bring a few bottles of water to stay hydrated, and hit shopping venues that require you to do lots of walking, such as flea markets and outlet malls.
Add humor to your day
Laughing out loud works your abdominal muscles and increases your lung capacity so you can burn more calories and perform even better during workouts. Laughter also naturally reduces stress, boosts your mood, and improves your heart health. Surround yourself with people who genuinely make you laugh, and take time to expose yourself to humor every day — whether with hilarious YouTube videos or stand-up comedy performances at a local comedy club.
Turn every activity into exercise
Many tasks and chores you perform throughout the day can be turned into some form of exercise. Think about the everyday things you do, along with creative ways to turn these tasks into calorie-burning activities. For instance, do squats while gardening or whenever you need to bend down, or dance to fast-tempo music while cleaning the house. If you work at a desk all day, take time between tasks to do sets of push-ups or calf raises.
Other creative ways to add more exercise to your day include parking farther away from your destination, taking stairs instead of escalators, and walking instead of driving to your community mailbox.
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Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on June 30, 2017