You’ve probably come to accept the fact that you’ll be adding a few pounds during the holidays. Between large family meals and a constant array of sweets set before you, you’ll likely decide to give up the idea of keeping trim in the winter. Perhaps you’ll start on that exercise routine once January 1 arrives. But you don’t have to settle for carb-laden weight gain. Prepping for the holidays – readying guest beds, cooking elaborate meals and even shopping – can all help you burn calories, too. Consider it a win-win for your mind and body. Here are seven calorie-burning activities that you don’t need a gym membership for.
An hour of house cleaning (238 calories)
Once Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to start thinking about getting the house ready for family and friends throughout the holidays. If you spend just one hour cleaning your house, you will burn around 238 calories. This includes dusting the furniture, bending to pick items up off the floor and running the vacuum cleaner over those dusty rugs. It’s kind of nice to know that all that effort won’t be wasted. And if your house needs a little more TLC, you’ll burn even more calories whipping it into shape.
Changing linens on the guest bed (40 calories)
Anyone who has a large house and a large family that is going to be arriving for the holidays spends a lot of time changing linens. The good news is changing linens for 15 minutes will burn 40 calories. If you have pets who like to mess up the beds and get fur all over the linens after you’ve changed the beds, then you can at least double this calorie loss each time you change the covers. Forty calories might not seem like much, but every bit adds up to an overall net gain in the end.
- Cleaning the windows for half an hour (167 calories)
Remember last holiday season when Aunt Grace wouldn’t stop talking about how dirty your windows were? She even tried to insinuate that your dirty windows meant you didn’t care about keeping your house clean. The nerve of your family, right? Well, you’ll be happy to know that you can spend 30 minutes cleaning those windows this holiday season and shed 167 calories in the process. Remember to clean the rugs and wipe those baseboards, too, because you know how Aunt Grace can be.
- Shoveling snow for an hour (476 calories)
If you live in a snowy climate, take advantage of nature’s gift to boost your workout goals for the day. Holiday snowfall lifts everyone’s holiday spirit and makes the season that much brighter. It also fills up your driveway, covers your sidewalks and turns into slush in the roads, ending up in your driveway after the plows go by. Fortunately, shoveling snow is a great calorie burner. When you shovel snow for an hour, you burn a whopping 476 calories, earning a guilt-free cup of cocoa when you’re done.
- Cooking the holiday meal for an hour (159 calories)
Shoveling snow may burn the most calories per hour, but there are a lot more hours that go into cooking the holiday meals. For every hour you spend preparing the holiday feast, you’ll burn around 159 calories. All that stirring, chopping, dicing and mixing will earn you a few extra calories to spend on the meal itself. The trick is to avoid packing extra calories back on when you sit at the dinner table with the family.
- Shopping (lots of calories)
If you need a break from the cleaning, head to the stores to find the perfect gadget for your second cousin, twice removed. While you’re at it, you’ll burn plenty of calories to justify the pricey latte you picked up along the way. Browsing through stores, standing in line and loading up your car with gifts all count toward your overall calorie burn. You’ll burn about 47 calories for every half hour you stand in line and another 13 calories for every five minutes you spend taking bags to the car.
Under normal circumstances, those may not sound like much, but holiday shopping is a different breed of shopping. A few hours spent checking off your gift list could add a couple hundred calories to your burn total for the day.
- Washing the dishes (85 calories)
Everyone is anxious to help set the table and get the food out for the holiday feast, but those same helpers seem to disappear when it’s time to clean up. The joke’s on them because you burn around 85 calories for every 30 minutes you spend washing the dishes. Depending on how big your holiday meal is, this post-meal activity could help you work off at least a piece of pie.
Holidays are packed with family gatherings, office parties, visits and big meals, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find creative ways to burn off some of those excess calories. Snack lightly, if at all, and save room for the indulgent dinners you’re preparing instead. There’s no need to come to January 1 with a sense of dread. Moderation is key to a happy (and healthy) holiday season.