Day 18: Burn More Calories With Micro-Exercise | 30-Day Weight Loss-athon

Welcome to Day 18 of the 30-Day Weight Loss-athon.

All tasks in the 30-Day Weight Loss-athon are adapted from my 52 Weight Loss Missions program.

Read the steps first, then take 10 minutes to think about them and take action. Ready?

What You Need:

  • A willingness to move it, move it.

Step 1

Doing your weekly 30 x 3 exercise sessions from Day 5 is great – it raises your heart rate, gets you sweating, and can burn lots of calories.

But there are many ways you can get micro-exercise into your day, too. Some people call it incidental exercise. I like to think of it as lifestyle exercise – something that becomes part of your lifestyle.

Each nugget of micro-exercise can seem tiny – and it’s good to think that way, so you’ll feel inclined to do one every chance you get.

But the benefits aren’t so tiny. Not only do the weight-loss calories add up, but by taking opportunities to move, you form a habit of moving.

So as a first step, open your mind to the ways you can add micro-exercise to your life. They don’t take a lot of effort, but they can add up to a lot of calories, taken together and over time.

Step 2

Next, let’s consider the myriad ways you can add micro-exercise to your daily life. Here are some:

  • Take stairs rather than escalators or elevators (There are so stairs in your building – find them!)
  • Don’t use remotes – get up and press the buttons
  • Go talk to your colleagues rather than emailing them (bonus: you may save time on back-and-forth emails)
  • Walk to work
  • Walk the kids to school
  • Wherever you go, move a little faster and more energetically
  • Get off the train or bus one stop earlier and walk
  • Park farther away (from the restaurant, shops, appointment) so you have to walk (bonus: parking may be easier at a distance)
  • If at a dinner party, help to carry dishes to and from the table
  • Put a bike or treadmill in front of the TV and move while you watch
  • Do sit-ups or push-ups during ad breaks
  • If you tend to have inactive weekends, make a project of doing chores, repairs or other household tasks
  • Walk, cycle or run to the library, to pick up the kids, do errands, etc.
  • Walk around the house while on the phone
  • Play a game outside with the kids
  • Take the (neighbor’s) dog for a walk
  • Stop asking the kids/your spouse/your PA to pass you things, get something from over there, pick you up a coffee or go out to get your lunch – it’s annoying to them, and it denies you the chance to burn calories
  • Put more energy into the housework – vacuum, hang laundry or dust with vigor
  • Put more energy into the yard work – I don’t really know what goes on out there, but do it with a good posture and sense of speedy purpose
  • Put more energy into your, um, love life – do it more often or with more sprightliness
  • Wash the car faster and more energetically
  • Do some gardening – the kind where you have to cart stuff around, dig holes, squat, wheel wheelbarrows and such; pruning bonsai doesn’t count
  • Switch from passive to active family time – instead of watching movies or playing computer games, go for a bushwalk, play in the park, ride bikes together, or play fitness-based console games.

Hint: Use a pedometer for extra motivation.

There’s something about tracking anything that makes you want to do better at it. Using a pedometer can help motivate you to take extra steps throughout your day. So if you’re looking for incentive to move more in your daily life, it’s worth a try.

Step 3

Choose at least three forms of micro-exercise, from my list or add your own, that you’ll commit to doing as a new habit.

What will you do for your micro-exercise?

Check in!

And you’re done!

Be sure to leave your comment below to check in and stay accountable. If you’re reading this by email or in a reader then please click here to leave your comment.

See you tomorrow!

Michele Connolly

Michele Connolly helps people move from procrastination to action. She believes that taking action on your priorities makes you a happier person. Michele is the founder of Get Organized Wizard and creator of tools for business, home, and personal organization. Her programs are used by tens of thousands of people worldwide.

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  • I’ve started to put more effort in exercises I do with my class. They seem to love it when I “wiggle wobble” with them.

  • oops didn’t get to this last night, too busy having extra sex. just kidding but I think I will use that one for my incidental exercise, as that is the best excuse I have heard yet, ( I have been telling my husband that for years) plus I will use the walking round while on the phone, especially those long chats with sisters, but I usually make those calls while on the treadmill using an ear piece and its surprising how quick the time goes by. I already use a pedometer most days and yesterday spent most of 8 hours walking around so I think I am in front on the exercise.

  • There are quite a few exercises I can do, the thing is, I just got to get started. 😉

  • I have noticed my husband (who still weighs the same as he did when we first got married 18 years ago) is always moving. He naturally does these things, and I think that is what has helped his metabolism to stay super fast! I have been trying to make even cleaning the house more of a workout….running and working hard so I get really sweaty! I’ve also been trying to do the little errands I typically ask my kids to do just so I can burn a few extra calories… running downstairs to the storage room to get the can I need for dinner. 🙂

  • OK so my three forms of micro exercise shall be ride my bike to work providing weather is not raining, getting stuck into my housework (scrubbed out my two bathrooms today) and burning up some extra calories decluttering my house which I have been planning to start (been reading your 52 Get Organized Missions) so hoping that will burn off a few calories and get rid of some clutter as well. Just got to get past the procrastination and perfectionism that overwhelms me at times. 🙂

  • My best micro-exercises:
    10 reps with weights.
    dancing (any time I hear suitable dance music!)
    trips from the car with groceries.
    up and down stairs with laundry.

  • I’m lucking, I live in beautiful DT Ventura and able to walk everywhere, the library, the post office, Main St, the beach. I started working on my garden and cleaning out my closets. Every day, a little bit more.

  • I have already started parking about 3-5 blocks from school, depending on how much time I have to walk to class. I have a lot of yard work to do in preparation of my veggie garden- which will end up being a 2 for 1 when it’s time to eat the results. For the 3rd form of micro-exercise I will clean house more vigorously.

  • I try to walk an extra 5 minutes each time I walk the kids to the bus, I am parking further away while shopping.

  • Choosing the stairs at train stations, riding bike to shops & gym, getting teenage daughter up in the mornings to join me for my morning power walks, and standing for parts of my all day meeting today :-<

  • Park further away when shopping…motivate doing housework….walk the dog more often.

  • More energized housework… stop asking Kids to get things for me and walk around while on the phone. Thanks for the tips.

  • I typically look at this list & think, “I already do most of these things.” Not today! I”m going to park further away, increase chores, & improve my love life.

  • I’m committing to parking farther away, taking the stairs, and doing chores more energetically!

  • After two years+ of parking closer to the store(s) after two accidents, I’m parking farther away again…at least in the daylight. Found stairs to walk when I’m in town, park up the hill and walk down to lunch, shop, appointments. Adding projects to weekends.

  • treadmill x 10 mins 3 times per week.

  • my new job has been great for micro-exercise. I walk 15 mins to and from the station to my office, and then up 3 flights of stairs to the top floor. just yesterday we had a new delivery of stock and I went up and down the stairs 5 times! very good for the thighs 🙂
    last year when I was doing sessions with a personal trainer I would keep track of my daily steps – I think I should get my pedometer back out for even more motivation to keep moving!

  • After living in the same house for 12 years, it’s time for a real Spring Cleaning, I mean washing walls, yuk. I’m breaking it into small jobs, that take longer than 10 mins but less than an hour usually. It’s amazing how many calories myfitnesspal says that burns up. Why I can’t stand this, I’m heading outside for the yardwork or my bike…as soon as I get a license from our Police Dept 🙂

  • well that works. I got 4,000 steps done just in one phone call and that was a half hour one. very impressed, got to chat to my sister and work off some fat. I am up to 13,670 steps today and I have a bin full of what was clutter. yay and the recycling bin too!

  • Since I mostly work from home, micro-exercise is critical. I’m using a Fitbit to track steps (got it right when this challenge started) – to add steps, I’ve started marching in place or walking in circles while I brush my teeth. I force myself to use the upstairs bathroom to get in more steps and stairs every day. I do walll push ups or stretches while my lunch is microwaving. All little things, but it does all add up!

  • I have started dragging (and this morning it was literally dragging) my dog out for a 10 minute walk before work. I have always parked far from the doors when shopping so I will continue to do that. And I need to get up during commercials to do some exercises.

  • and while sitting in my desk chair reading this, I’ve been pumping my arms as if power walking, while using leg and pelvic floor musclies to lift my bum slightly up and forward in my chair.

  • I’ve actually been doing some micro-exercises already. I’ve been taking the stairs more at work, walking around the block to get to my car after work, and my favorite is doing the “cha-cha” as I’m working in the kitchen.

  • I have decided to spend less time sitting in front of the computer and made a list of extra things I want to get done around my house. I will stop asking the kids to take things upstairs for me and start doing it myself. I will say my favorite exercise is my, um, love life =) taking it up a notch works for me!

  • I usually use the stairs at work unless I have a heavy load of things to carry. When I use the train I try to use the stairs and not the elevator or escalator, need to do it more. I’m adding 5-10 minutes to my bicycle ride to school – it is a 5 minute ride. Already hang all my wash since no dryer. Do want to find some exercise I can do while watching tv. We have an exercise ball in the living room just need to put it to good use.

  • for those with small children, I always loved to put on a Wiggles or Hooley Dooleys CD/video and dance around the room with the littlies!

  • I like Words with Friends but don’t have the phone capability so I use my laptop. I put it on the counter so that I can pass by and play throughout the day. As I play I “SQUEEZE, RELEASE”,”SQUEEZE, RELEASE”, Sh..I am sharing a secret. 🙂

  • Lots of these to do. Park farther away, bike in front of tv, and active family time. I will also work on getting up to get things myself more often.

  • These are great ideas! Although I think I get more exercise lifting and carrying my one year old than I do during my “designated exercise time” 🙂

  • just danced for a while at the cold chisel concert, how many calories did I burn off I wonder.

  • With 2 little ones in a 2 floor house I think I do already a bit of up and down the stairs every minute. In fact is hard for me to find any time to sit down. But still good the trick of doing some abdominals during the ad breaks in the nights (that is the time when I usually run to the kitchen to finish cleaning and washing the dishes, so it is not really dead time, just more of a “change of activity”).

  • I shall do more gardening, walking the dogs and exercise in front of TV with my pilates ball- you can sit on it while watching TV- great for the core muscles and stretching…

  • One micro-exercise I’ve committed to is taking the stairs at work, EVERYTIME. I’ve also started walking the dog more regularly, good for both us.

  • Hello to everyone: You are well on your way to a healthier you. Yes, it is important to take steps instead of the elevator. Make sure you are capable of walking steps. Where I live we have cement steps. If you’re walking in a walker, using crutches or with the aid of a cane your doctor may not want you climbing steps [I don’t want you to fall and end up with broken bones.] Elevators will be best for you. – If you’re physically fit take those stairs. I’m proud of all of you and please keep posting to stay accountable. Good Luck.

  • This one I haven’t started yet but I’ve been thinking about which…so today I choooooooooossssseeeee walking the building and climbing the stairs while I am on hall duty at work, rather than just patrolling one hallway. I attempt to vaccum the den and entrance hallway every night….two birds one stone. Lastly, I will walk to colleagues to ask questions about students, curriculum, meetings, etc.

  • Pedometer has been “cheating” me out of steps! Think I’ve figured a way to wear it so that the 6 steps up to the bedroom and bathroom and 6 steps down to the laundry – both from the first floor— will COUNT! Am parking further out in the lot when shopping. With settling into our home after 8 months away– I’m finding plenty of extra motions to help burn calories! Like up and down the step stool to take down and put up new window dressings.

  • I’ve been doing this one for years! Parking way out in the lot (more so now because I drive a full size pick up truck, and I’m too afraid I’ll hit another car if I try to squeeze into a space closer!) and take the stairs whenever possible. I’ve also been known to dance while I’m in the kitchen cooking dinner!

  • My three micro exercises will be taking the stairs at the office (six floors of steps three times a day will add up), walking errands at lunch (there is both a Subway and a Walgreens within a mile of my office and I visit both once every two to three weeks and something I call GOYBAD (get off your booty and dance): when I need a work break or feel I’ve been sitting too long, I pull up a music video or zumba video on youtube and dance (or just move for the entire song).

  • well, I got ripped off with the pedometer yesterday. I was past 15,000 and still on the go and when I looked at it the dam thing had started again as it was past midnight so I didn’t get to find out my score for the day. oh well, lets hope I don’t get quite that much exercise today because I am tired.

  • housework, yard work, and gardening. Not that I like ANY of these things, but out of necessity…maybe I’ll have this place looking great by the time my husband gets back. I did log over 11,000 steps today…walking more for shopping lately, and I hardly ever take the stairs, unless I have someone waiting for me, or if it’s more than a couple floors up 🙂 Really, I think have come up with a way to do ‘life’ with as little energy as possible (I grew up in the US ‘energy crisis’!). I guess I need to reverse this trend!

  • I do like to listen to music when I clean house, and dance around while I work. I also like to work in the garden. Short walks around the yard can be good while talking on the phone. I have started walking around while talking, but I think I would enjoy it more outside. Also, I will begin to park further away from the store so that I have further to walk in and out.

  • I run up and down the stairs instead of walking up and down, and I make more trips. I’ve started parking further away when I go shopping, and I’ll go up and down every aisle when I buy groceries to get in more exercise. I’ve also started doing a few minutes of abs exercise during commercial breaks.

  • With my knee still recovering from a sprained crucial ligament I will be a bit restricted as to what I can do. What I will aim to try and do with micro-exercising will be to 1 vacuum our floors lino and carpeted areas a bit quicker. 2 mop the floors faster in our house we have a big country kitchen and a long sun room which are both lino. 3 to try and go a bit faster on the exercise bike.

  • I am using the stairs more, using the housework to increase the exercise and going to walk in the am!

  • Great ideas! I know I can do this, I’m sure everyday will be a little different depending on what’s going on for the day but one micro-exercise I can incorporate for sure is running up and downstairs to go the food storage. I’m always sending the kids so that will be a good one for me. I’ll watch for ways to do this everyday.

  • When the kids are little, we are so busy that we get in the habit of having them help with little things, like getting something from the other room. This is a good reminder to make new habits of doing things for ourselves to burn calories once they can all dress and potty, if we learned to have a little pile near the stairs instead of making a quick trip to put things away immediately.

  • Bike in front of the tv, do the yardwork, walk around the house on the phone, and try that pedometer app I downloaded and ignored.

  • I already walk when I run errands during the day (if it is nice out), I also push mow our yard. I think I will also try to stop using the remote and get up to change the channels and maybe to some push-ups or sit-ups during commercial breaks!

  • Just yesterday, I started using the restroom on a different floor at work, and I use the stairs. Since I’ve increased my water intake, that will be several times a day. I’m also going to park farther away, and if I need to grab lunch, I try to walk somewhere.

  • Back from holidays and now in civilization again and wow have internet connection too! Will have to catch up on almost 2weeks worth of tips. Looks like my challenge may go on for 45days to make up for time I have missed on taking up the tips 🙂

  • I already park at a distance, most of the times (hate fighting) crowds. I am going to start taking stairs more often, even though they scare me. And general try to be more active and take advantage of the micro-exercise.

  • my micor exercises are standing calf raises while standing still, I will fold the washing and put awat, and I will empty the dishwasher actively ( my kids will love those last 2).

  • A lot of these are hard, since I homeschool my 4 kids, and we don’t leave the house all that often. But I can definitely get out and play with them more, take walks. There is also a lot of yardwork to do, and a garden to plant this year.

  • I love to walk the stairs, frankly the elevators in my building scare me. I will start parking in the back lot, and my poor pup would probably love more walks.

  • Taking Stairs – check.
    Park car FAR away from school – check.
    Wash car (elbow greasy to scrub out tyre gunk ) – check.
    Wash sneakers by hand – check.
    Did not do my regular exercises today :(- Donated blood, and felt woozy for the rest of the day.

  • We have steps at our house so I tend to run up them (not so safe going down) them instead of walking, building new garden beds is always great and trampolining with my almost 5 year old. He really loves it and it’s wonderful for the thigh muscles.

  • These are great tips. I will park further away at the shopping center, and just basically get moving more. Got my bike ready to go. Now just need to get over this illness so I can get to it.

  • This is exactly what I’ve been doing for the past month! I really feel so much more energetic and am not out of breath so much. I use a pedometer called a Fitbit, and I love how it motivates me to be more active.

  • I park farther from the doors when shopping, I walk at a quick pace, and I will try to put more energy into housework. ugh.

  • New pedometer arrived, can hardly wait to use and test accuracy. Exercise program in a slump this week. Back on track today. Luckily—no weight gain.

  • I like to park far away, take the stairs, walk my dog every day…….

  • I added a couple sets of stairs in our house, instead of going up once I turn around and do another set. Oh and I will deffinately add in some more sex

  • I excluded all activities related to remote and TV as I don’t even sit there, however, I do use the laptop a lot.. Anyway, I made my list and will do one-a-day at least.. Thank you!

  • Great, this fits in with my want to re-arrange and de-clutter my basement and garage! Now no excuses!

  • I live in a 3 storey house so stair walking is my number 1! Then I’ll go for cleaning and gardening more often 🙂

  • I was thinking about the FitBit. Are you familiar with it and would you recommend using it?

  • I will take the stairs, park farther away, and do more active things with my son. He loves to walk outside.

  • I’m going to choose stop asking, house work, and weekend chores.

  • I love the ideas. I may try several of them so I don’t get bored ;).

  • I always park my car in the last spot at work so I walk farther to and from the door.

  • These are some great ideas! Some sound much better than others! LOL! But all are good ones! : )

  • great ideas, just have to do them more than I do now.

  • I like a lot! Can’t wait to do some

  • This will be easy for me

  • I do – and I can see more possibillities. I can see dirty windows, I can see flowers to plant…. and it´s time for spring cleaning all areas 🙂 Time to create a new playlist to make it more fun.

  • Extra walk with the dog and more stairs!

  • I like the idea of the pedometer!

  • Taking the stairs, house cleaning with energy and parking far away. I’ll start with these.

  • Guys have anyone tried SurelySlim ( It is made in Canada. They say it is cutting edge technology of three fat burners in one veg capsule?