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Eight Surprising Ways to Burn 50 Calories

Pounds can be slow to melt away, but burning some extra calories may be easier than you think. Take the activities on this page, each of which burns 50 of a 2,500-calorie daily intake.

Hoop it up

How long: 8 minutes
The skinny: Hooping—the exercise-oriented incarnation of the 1950s Hula-Hoop craze—gives you a good cardiovascular workout, builds stamina, and improves agility and strength.
Bonus: It’s cool and likely to be even cooler, now that an avid hooper, first lady Michelle Obama, is in the White House.

Conduct an imaginary orchestra

How long: 14 minutes
The skinny: The gestures and body movements of conducting (think Arturo Toscanini, not Lawrence Welk) significantly boost your pulse rate and, over time, strengthen your heart.
Bonus: “Nobody knows why many orchestra conductors live longer than people in other professions,” says Gabe Mirkin, M.D., “but the very act of conducting may be the reason.”

Type e-mail

How long: 19-20 minutes
The skinny: While this may strike you as a sedentary activity, keep in mind that a typist burns up to twice as many calories as a couch potato.
Bonus: Keep in touch with your friends and family.

Pick up litter

How long: 8 minutes
The skinny: Walking is good exercise, but some bending, stretching, and lifting make it even better.
Bonus: Cleaning up trash and collecting recyclables (cans, bottles, etc.) rank way up there in the feel-good department and sets a terrific example for others.

Be a clean freak

How long: 10 minutes
The skinny: Vacuuming gives muscles in your upper body a gentle workout and, if stairs are involved, helps tone the lower body.
Bonus: A cleaner house helps control such asthma and allergy triggers as pet dander, dust mites, and pollen.

Work out your funny bone

How long: 10-15 minutes
The skinny: Laughing out loud can boost your metabolism by 20 percent, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., found.
Bonus: Laughing also increases blood flow and may reduce the risk of heart disease, according ​​to a study by doctors at the University of Maryland.

Chew gum

How long: 4 1/2 hours
The skinny: Working out your jaw muscles in this way can raise your metabolic rate by 20 percent, researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found.
Bonus: Xylitol, the sugar substitute used in many sugar-free chewing gums, reduces dental plaque and helps prevent cavities.

Rub someone the right way

How long: 8-9 minutes
The skinny: When it comes to massages as a calorie-burning activity, it’s definitely better to give than to receive.
Bonus: Massage, researchers have found, reduces pain and stress throughout the body; it may also lower blood pressure and boost immunity. But that’s only if your massage partner returns the favor.

Now for the Disclaimer

These are averages based on a weight of 180 pounds. For a more accurate estimate, find a “calories burned calculator” on the Web (such as