We all burn fuel during our daily routine, and there’s even a name for it – non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT is the energy we use for everything from walking up stairs to texting, and with a little imagination, it’s easy to turn mundane activities into calorie burning opportunities — no gym required.

The best part is that, according to new research, these activities can help with weight management and actually count toward recommended exercise guidelines. We might not work up a sweat while shopping or doing housework, but every minute when we’re not lounging on the couch is another step toward good health.

For a long time, researchers thought that, in order for exercise to count toward physical activity guidelines, we had to be active for at least 10 minutes at a time. But results from a new study are causing some scientists to rethink those beliefs. Researchers looked at physical activity in adults between the ages of 18 and 64 and found that both long and short bouts of higher-intensity exercise were associated with lower BMI and risk of overweight and obesity. (“Long bouts” means at least 10 minutes of physical activity; “short bouts” refers to less than 10 minutes of physical activity. Intensity was measured by accelerometer counts per minute.)

Some great examples of and tips on short bouts are:

  • Shop – whether for groceries or clothes
  • Clean house – vacuuming, sweeping, or Swiffering is good for 150 calories per hour
  • Shake and bake – 30 minutes of chopping veggies or washing pots and pans may only burn around 75 calories, but add in some gluteus maximus.
  • Stop hop – get off the bus or train one stop early.
  • Take the stairs– taking the stairs can burn more calories per minute than jogging. Take two at a time to really get things moving.
  • Wash the car – this activity can burn 135 calories in 30 minutes
  • Shoveling snow – shoveling snow for 30 minutes can burn over 180 calories

Remember, while traditional aerobic activity and strength training are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, everyday activities can be an additional way to get us moving — especially with a few calorie-blasting tricks.