Health & Fitness

8 Little ways to burn extra calories on your commute

Whether you drive, ride, or walk.

By Eleanor Jones
Burning calories on your commute

Research has shown that commuters burn an average of 324 calories on their journeys to work each day — but what if you want to up that?

Here are eight little ways...

1. Walk whilst you wait

If you take public transport, chances are there’s a period of time where you’re just waiting around for your bus or train to arrive. Take advantage of these wasted minutes by pacing up and down the platform or pavement — even if it’s just 5 minutes a day of extra activity, that’s 25 minutes of walking per working week without even thinking about it. For a woman of average height and weight that could burn roughly 75 to 100 calories (or a fun size Milky Way, FYI).

2. Get off at least one stop early

We know, we know — who wants to make their commute longer?! — but it can be worth it for that all-important step count. Prepare for your new schedule by setting your alarm a little earlier than normal, packing your stuff the night before, and planning to disembark at the most scenic part of the journey (if such a thing exists). Personally, we find we have much more motivation to walk past a river or a pretty row of Instagrammable houses than a grey industrial estate…

3. Give up your seat

It’s a given that standing burns more calories than sitting, so not only does giving up your seat to someone more deserving make you a kinder human, it can make you a healthier one too. Studies have shown that staying vertical can burn around 50 extra calories per hour. That doesn’t sound much, until you work out that if you have a commute which is 30 minutes a day each way, it’s around 250 per week, or as many as an approximate 13,000 per year, no extra gym seshes required. Not too shabby.

4. Always take the stairs

Whether it’s at your flat, the station, or the office, ditching the lifts and escalators is a great way of getting in a mini bonus workout in. As well as burning extra calories, you’ll be targeting your butt and your leg muscles as you climb, and that increase in your heart rate (the one that leaves you gasping for breath… just us?) means that you’re going a little way towards improving your fitness level each time you take on a short, sharp flight.

5. Park as far away as possible

Can’t leave your car at home completely? You can still make a difference by leaving it as far from the entrance of your building as possible, even if this means forgoing the company car park and going a few streets down. Going from fighting for the front space to taking the furthest corner isn’t just more exercise, it’s a chance to to stretch your legs and destress after your time behind the wheel, so make it count.

6. Listen to music

Podcasts are fine for when you’re stood still, but listen to music any time you’re walking, and you’ll probably burn more calories. You do still have to put the effort in movement-wise, but the trick is to listen to tracks with a higher BPM (beats per minute) than your usual pace — typically, when you hear a song with a good beat, you’ll quicken your steps to match it, leading to brisker steps and a harder workout for your body.

7. Clench your core

Even when you’re sat down, you can still blitz a couple of extra cals by performing exercises that are designed to tone certain muscles. Get into the habit of tensing your abs towards your spine for a few seconds and then releasing them slowly, or squeezing your glutes whilst you’re waiting at traffic lights. Sure, it’s never going to give you a six pack, but every little helps - just remember to concentrate on driving first and foremost, and never try to exercise at the expense of your concentration.

8. Go off the beaten track

If you already cycle to work, first things first, major props, and second things seconds, even YOU can up your commute calorie burn if you really want to. One of the best options is to switch up your route, avoiding easy terrain and opting for a course with plenty of regular inclines. We’re not suggesting you turn up at the office looking like you’ve been off-roading, but for every hill you take, you could burn nearly three times as many calories than if you’d going the same speed on flat ground…