Some people crave cardio. Others dread it in a way that really isn’t healthy—we shouldn’t have to hate exercise. As a big, juicy endorphin boost, we should only find ways to move that move us, bring us joy, and ultimately make us come back for more. Working out is only sustainable when it’s pleasurable, not a major bummer or something to hurry up and get over with.
The problem for those cardio-haters out there who can’t stand to run and can only manage a HIIT every so often is that cardio is where we burn the most calories. Whether we are keeping up with an indulgent lifestyle or have major weight-loss goals, we’re tracking how many calories we’re burning. We asked fitness trainer Bec Donlan, aka the “Cakemaker,” if we can burn cardio-level calories without doing actual cardio. And, hallelujah, she said yes.
If you’re looking for the best ways to burn some calories minus your standard cardio, here are some of Donlan’s bang-for-your-buck ways to get a gym-worthy calorie burn on days when you’re not feeling the gym.
While slightly uncomfy, sitting in a sauna requires you to do just that: sit. While you’re chilling (er, sweating your ass off), your body is burning major calories—think up to 600 calories in an hour or 300 in 30 minutes, Donlan tells us. Just don’t forget to hydrate! This is the ultimate time to add vital electrolytes to your water, post-heavy sweat.
Ice bath or cold plunge
“Studies show that ice baths activate brown fat, and when stimulated at its maximum (three to six minutes in the ice bath), you can burn anywhere from 300 to 500 calories as your body works to reheat itself.”
“Sadly, sex only comes in at around 3.6 calories burnt a minute … But, according to some studies, if you reach an orgasm, you clock an additional 60-100 calories,” Donlan tells us. That toy on your bedside table might be your lullaby and part of your fitness routine.
Cleaning the house
“Cleaning the house can burn up to 300 calories per hour. I put on my Bala wrist weights and this genuinely feels like a sneaky workout.”
“Getting a full-body massage can come in at 230-260 calories per hour.”
“This can come in at 440 calories per hour. Again, add wrist weights, because why not?”
Stand-up paddle boarding
While not everyone has access to this kind of activity, any somewhat static sport or activity that requires you to stabilize with your core for long periods of time can burn some major calories. SUP’ing comes in at around 444 calories per hour.
What feels like a beautiful stroll in nature can burn up to 370 calories per hour, according to Donlan. Plus, we get some vital vitamin D and grounding time.
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