How Many Calories Does Walking Burn? (Calorie Calculator)

How Many Calories Does Walking Burn? (Calorie Calculator)


There’s two things every nerd should know:

  1. How many calories do I burn walking a mile?
  2. How far is it to Mordor?

Today, we’re answering both of them (and much more). 

Walking is a great form of exercise and something we often recommend to folks starting our coaching program. Some have had great success walking, including Megan, who has a daily practice to maintain her weight loss journey.

Megan before and after

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Without further ado, let’s step right in.

How Many Calories Does Walking Burn? (Calorie Calculator)

In true Nerd Fitness fashion, we scienced the crap out of this, and even created a handy calculator for you – simply put your stats in the calculator here:

A few things to remember about the above equation:

There’s a difference between gross calories (total calories) expended and net calories (additional calories) expended! Your body burns most of its calories every day JUST by existing.

  • Gross calories: calories burned while walking PLUS the calories burned just existing
  • Net calories: ADDITIONAL calories you burned thanks to exercise.

(Calculate your calories “in” and “out” with this calculator.)

Also, our calculation is an ESTIMATE. You’re a unique snowflake, and no box or formula can capture your awesomeness/uniqueness. This equation below is JUST a starting point!

Also, if you don’t feel like playing with our calculator (boo), here’s how many calories you burn walking:

On average, a mile burns about 100 calories when walking.

Another point: ANY exercise pales in comparison to a much more important part of the weight loss equation: nutrition.

It’s what Megan credits most of her weight loss journey to.

Megan before and after

If you’ve come this far, and you want to learn more about why walking is so amazing, continue reading.

And you’re damn right, I’ll show you exactly how to walk to Mordor too.

What Are The Benefits of Walking?

Walking along roads or hiking can burn a lot of calories

We are designed to walk. It’s in our DNA, and it’s a huge part of our emergence as the dominant species on this planet (along with opposable thumbs, big brains, and Nintendo).

Let’s get the basic stuff out of the way:

Every day, it’s recommended by the CDC that we walk around five miles, or 10,000 steps.[1]

Hence the reason why your Fitbit – which I’ll get to shortly – has that 10k step goal as its default number.

Unfortunately, we Americans tend to average HALF that: 2.5 miles or 5,000 steps.

And I’d imagine that people who work outdoors or have more physically active jobs drag that average wayyyy up.

Which leaves us desk jockeys, who don’t walk nearly enough.

Animated gif of man coming home from work and sitting at computer

We use our feet to get us from the front door, to our car, to our desk, to our car, to our front door, to our couch… where we put them up while watching four hours of TV before going to bed.

Not walking enough can be a big factor in the creep-up of weight gain over the years.

You might have questions like:

  • Can I walk more to lose weight?
  • Is walking REALLY good for me?
  • Do I need to do more intense exercise?

Long story short:

You should walk more and it can help you lose weight and be healthier.

Short story long…

Here’s why walking is important:

#1) Walking burns calories without exhausting you. If you walk the recommended mileage each day (5 miles instead of just 2.5), it can lead to a tremendous amount of weight loss over time. You’ll burn an extra 100 calories walking just ONE more mile each day than normal: When that’s multiplied out, it’s an extra 700 calories burned per week, which results in approximately a pound of fat lost every five weeks, or 10 pounds in a year.  You can scale up your distances to get your desired results!

#2) Walking doesn’t add to training stress. If you are strength training regularly, adding in more weight training or running can lead to burnout, breakdowns, and injuries. If you are trying to look like a super-hero, extra cardio sessions (or long-distance cardio sessions) might kill your gains. But you can just walk. You can walk great distances, provided you’ve built up your body’s physical ability, and not get tired or sore – walking (especially outside while soaking in some sunlight) can make you feel better, not worse.

#3) Walking is low impact. Unlike running, which can wreak havoc on people’s joints if they run improperly or are severely overweight, walking doesn’t have those impact issues. If you go for a walk and your feet or joints hurt, you’re doing it wrong – read the next section!

#4) Walking can burn fat. Because walking is low impact and low intensity, your body doesn’t need to pull much glycogen and glucose stores to fuel itself, which happens when you strength train or push yourself into “aerobic training” with higher intensity cardio. Proponents of intermittent fasting suggest walking in a fasted state in the morning before eating anything in order to help burn extra fat. It’s a little controversial, so this will have to be something you attempt and measure for yourself.

#5) Walking relieves stress. Seriously! Put on your favorite playlist, and go for a pleasant walk around your neighborhood or through the woods as the sun is going down. It’s a recipe to forget the worries of your day.

Bonus points if you can get someone to follow you with a boombox:

Man skipping followed by woman holding a boombox

#6) Walking improves mental health (especially in older hobbits). Walking can improve mental health, increase brain size, improve memory, and is correlated with improved, longer lifespans.[2]

How Walking Can Change Your Life

crossing three stepping stones in a river

If you are severely overweight and can’t run or strength train, walk on.

If you are building muscle and bulking up, walk on.

If you are trying to lose weight, walk on.

If you struggle with following a routine, or have failed in the past with weight loss, walk on

Why? I’m a HUGE fan of small habit change and tiny victories – walking is the PERFECT habit builder. If you’re brand new and starting out, go for a walk TODAY and begin your journey to Mordor.

This afternoon, go for a five-minute walk. Tomorrow morning before work, before breakfast, as SOON as you wake up, put on your shoes, and go outside for a five-minute walk. No snoozing, no lying in bed, no checking email or Twitter. Put on your headphones, pick your favorite song, go outside, and start walking.

Here’s why:

  • Walking for just five minutes a day is the start of a new habit.  Every morning for a few weeks, you’ll have to force yourself to walk. Initially, it will take effort and willpower to walk instead of snoozing. However, with each passing day of success, you’ll need to use less effort and willpower to get out the door. After all, it’s only five minutes, right? Once it’s something you do automatically without thinking, you can add on to it by increasing your walk time.
  • Walking briskly outdoors in the fresh morning air can be a great caffeine-free wake up call! If you make walking the FIRST thing you do in the morning, especially if you’re doing it before anybody else is awake, there will be zero distractions and no reason to say “sorry, I didn’t have time.” Of course, we like caffeine too (in moderation).
  • Walking will give you a chance to gather your thoughts and clear your head before the day begins. We’re constantly distracted at home: TV, iPads, smartphones, etc. Walking is so primal – no gadgets, just walking. Many people cite walking as the impetus for their creative or intelligent breakthroughs.   
  • Walking and successfully building a habit will give you a habit blueprint to follow for anything else you’d like to accomplish: “Hey, I was able to make walking a habit, what else can I tackle in the same way?” Slow and steady wins. One foot in front of the other, my friend.

How to Walk Properly

Footprints in the sand

“Uhhh, Steve, I know how to walk. I do it every day!”

Welp, if you’re starting from only walking from your car to the office, we need to make sure you’re walking the right way for when you push that mileage up.

Let’s start with your feet, provided you’re not gonna glue hair to your feet and go barefoot to become a hobbit.

I recommend walking in shoes that have a wide toe box and minimal drop (height at the heel vs height at the toes), as we discuss in our monster post on healthy feet and footwear:

You might not be used to walking with minimal cushioning under your heels, so walk slowly and land softly. Walking on softer surfaces to start isn’t a bad idea either.

We were designed before the invention of big clunky shoes… thus, we should be able to walk without big clunky shoes.[3] If you are interested in going barefoot as a runner, get started by walking short distances first. Your feet will toughen up (though they probably won’t grow hair quite like Frodo and Sam), your joints and muscles around your feet and ankles will strengthen, and your knees will deal with less stress.

When going for a lazy stroll, focus on landing softly, which is much easier when you don’t have thick-soled shoes to cushion your stride: land softly with your heel barely touching before rolling onto the middle (ball) of your foot, and then push off. You might need to take shorter strides than you’re used to if you were a big heel striker with a long stride.

If you’re aiming to walk quickly and up the intensity, shorten your stride and aim to land in the middle of your foot while pumping your arms. This is more easily done when walking uphill (which is also a great way to burn extra calories).

Is Walking Enough for Weight Loss?

Don before and after

Can walking help you lose weight?

You’re darn right it can!

The above photos are from Don, one of our coaching clients. Don credits his daily walking practice with helping him lose 85 pounds!

He’s not our only example of walking for weight loss:

Megan before and after

Megan, who I mentioned earlier, is another client who walks daily to maintain her weight loss.

Case closed?

Of course not!

Both Don and Megan also made adjustments to their nutrition to reach their amazing results.

One of the Rules of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion is that we know “you can’t outrun your fork.” No amount of exercise can counter a bad diet, as your nutrition will be responsible for 90% (not an exaggeration) of your success or failure.

Here’s an example:

  • Let’s say you go for a 5-mile walk, which takes you 90+ minutes.
  • If you then consume a 20 oz Gatorade and a small bag of Fritos (a typical snack for many here in America), you will have already undone all of the calories burned while walking.

Depending on your nutrition and love/hatred for exercise, this is either great news or bad news!

The BAD news: you can’t eat very badly in mass quantities and then expect to lose weight with a bit of exercise every week, even if it’s strenuous.

The GOOD news: Even if you dislike exercise, you can avoid exercise and still lose weight! Instead, put ALL of your focus instead on fixing your nutrition, and then go for a walk every once in awhile.

I’d also consider reading the following:

Oh, and if you want to see if a Nerd Fitness Coach can build you a program to lose weight while doing movements you enjoy (like walking), click on the button below:




The Best Practices for Walking (Tips and Tricks)

Autumn walk way

Here’s how to improve your walking technique:

#1) Focus on posture! Head up! Shoulders back! Walk with a confident stroll – practice this one in the morning if you’re not used to walking like this. It’s also a great way to appear instantly more confident; we nerds and hobbits need all the confidence we can get! Look around at your surroundings with your head up, arms swinging in rhythm.

You can also do some well-placed neck swings and jacket removals:

Zoolander walking and removing jacket

#2) Walk uphill to burn more fat. If you are walking on a treadmill, set it to an incline to increase the intensity and thus increase the amount of fat burned. Just don’t be that person who sets the incline way up, then holds onto both sides and leans their body back to be perpendicular with the incline. Keep good posture, lean forward into the incline, shorten your stride, and pump your legs.

#3) Hiking is a great way to practice walking, enjoy the scenery, and play Lord of the Rings in the woods with plastic swords and capes. Not that you should do that (you totally should). Here’s a beginner’s guide to hiking!

#4) When walking downhill, especially while barefoot (or wearing minimalist shoes), keep that stride short and be careful on how you are walking. Make sure your knee is bent when you land and absorb the impact rather than jamming the impact through your heel, knee, leg, hips, and lower back.

#5) Consider going for fasted walks in the morning. When you wake up first thing in the morning, your body has burned through most of the carb-fueled energy stores during the night. Which means when you go for a walk first thing in the morning, your body is more likely to have to pull from the only fuel source available to it: fat! This is the entire philosophy behind things like Intermittent Fasting or really low-carb diets like the Ketogenic diet.

#6) Get yourself a sturdy walking stick, if only so you can use it to battle imaginary ogres, goblins, cavetrolls, etc. It can also make you feel far more adventurous than if you’re just walking, and help you get up hills and land softly when going back down.

#7) Try Temptation Bundling. Load up an audiobook or your favorite podcast, and tell yourself that you can ONLY listen to the book or podcast while walking.

Is a Fitbit Helpful for Walking? (Which Fitness Tracker Is Best for Me?)

what you need to know about Fitbits and Pedometers to track calories burned walking

If you’re somebody who has been interested – or is getting interested – in walking, you’re probably familiar with step-tracking devices:

Personally, I’m a huge fan of fitness wearables, but not for the reasons you’d think.

For starters, you’re wearing a constant reminder that you are prioritizing movement, which can only be positive. You can even trigger it to remind you to get up and move every hour.

Our Fitbit trackers can help us with analyzing trends and getting in more steps.

It can also allow you to see how many steps you normally take, and thus allow you to prioritize moving MORE.

Although Fitbit has a history of being sued for the inaccurate heart-monitor portion of its devices, I’m less concerned about heart rates and 100% accuracy of step distance, and instead think in terms of personal improvement.

Just like with tracking your bodyfat percentage or your weight, “that which gets measured gets improved,” and that carries over to your total steps. The fact that you’re tracking it means you’re going to be more aware of it, which means you’re going to be more likely to be able to improve it.

And that’s why, in a weird way, I’m not very concerned about the total accuracy of these devices. Even if your scale is off by 5 pounds, or your body fat caliper is inaccurate by 1%, as long as you use the same device and measure in the same way under the same conditions, you can track trends and paint the picture of your health and whether or not it’s improving!

And that’s what these fitness trackers should be used for: a reminder and a trend tracker!

What you SHOULDN’T do: take your fitness tracker as gospel, and use that to calculate down to the calorie and macro how much food exactly you can consume.

What you SHOULD do: track your trend over time, and see if you can improve your average. Use the technology to aid your fitness quest. Use the community portion of the band to compare your stats against friends and get some positive friendly peer pressure to get you off your ass.

Okay, if nerdy fitness technology isn’t nerdy enough for you, let’s go full-nerd.

How to Actually Walk to Mordor

Frodo and Sam are walking buddies and actually walked to Mordor

Did you know it’s 1779 miles between Hobbiton to Mount Doom? [4]. We can actually determine how far Sam and Frodo walked, and then set out on the journey ourselves! It’s one thing to go for a stroll around your neighborhood. It’s another to know that, “If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.”

Sam and Frodo walking out of the Shire

So let’s take a look at how far we need to walk first:

  • 458 miles: Go from Hobbiton to Rivendell.
  • 462 miles: Set out with the Fellowship from Rivendell, through Moria, to Lothlorien.
  • 389 miles: From Lothlorien, down the Anduin, to Rauros Falls.
  • 470 miles: Follow Frodo and Sam on the quest from Rauros to Mt. Doom.
  • 535 miles: From Minas Tirith to Isengard
  • 693 miles: From Isengard to Rivendell.
  • 397 miles: From Rivendell to Bag End.
  • 467 miles: (bonus!) Follow Frodo to the Grey Havens and return home with Sam.

Following this path, you need to walk a total of 1779 miles to get from Hobbiton to Mt. Doom. Then it’s time to destroy the ring and get carried to Minas Tirith by the Great Eagles.

Thorin carried by the eagles

Then you’ll walk 1625 miles back to Bag End (and an additional 467 miles if you’re interested in doing a round trip to the Grey Havens).

Obviously, you don’t need to move at the same speed as the hobbits (18 miles on the first day is no joke! Damn, those hobbits covered some ground!), but it’s still fun to track your walks and your total miles to see where you’d be on your journey.

However, like Frodo and Sam, it starts with the first step.

I’ve created a Google Doc that you can copy for yourself to track your distances to follow Frodo and Sam on your journey to destroy the One Ring.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Open the document, and then click on “file,” “save a copy,” and then you can edit your own copy of the document.  
  • Track your distances with a pedometer, Fitbit, your iPhone or Android phone.
  • Input your distances and work towards completing each section of the journey over months. As you input your distances, it will automatically let you know when you reach each destination so you can get you started on the next one. 5 miles a day on average will have you destroying the Ring within one year.

Oh, and if you’re curious, according to my rough gorilla math, Frodo burned at least an additional 61,0000+ calories (100,000+ gross calories) by walking “there and back again” – you’re welcome[5].

Cast of The Hobbit giving thumbs up

What’s that?

You want some help getting out the door?

You got it – but only cause you asked nicely.

Here are three ways to level up alongside Nerd Fitness. 

#1) Our Online Coaching Program: a coaching program for busy people to help them make better food choices, stay accountable, and get healthier, permanently.

You can schedule a free call with our team so we can get to know you and see if our coaching program is right for you. Just click on the image below for more details:




#2) If you want an exact roadmap on how to get in shape, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

We even have fun missions that will help you walk more, all while you earn XP! Righteous. 

Try your free trial right here:

#3) Join the Rebellion! We need good people like you in our community, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

Sign up in the box below to enlist and get our Rebel Starter Kit, which includes all of our “work out at home” guides, the Nerd Fitness Diet Cheat Sheet, and much more!

Alright, your turn:

What questions do you have about walking? 

How have you incorporated it into your daily routine?

And have you walked to Mordor?

Let me know in the comments!

-Steve 

Photo source: fourbrickstall Hiking in Candelario, Lego Frodo, logoboom © 123RF.com, gynane © 123RF.com, arushigakaito © 123RF.com, snehit © 123RF.com, Thad Zajdowicz Keep walking! HMM!, Frodo and Sam



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A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking: What to Wear & Finding Trails

A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking: What to Wear & Finding Trails


A great place to hike.

Before you step foot in the great outdoors, read this guide!

There’s nothing more embarrassing than a city slicker getting lost in the woods, so let’s make sure you know where you’re going, what to wear, and what to bring.

That way your first hike will be fun, adventurous, and more importantly safe!

Today we will cover:

I’m happy you’re excited about hiking and I can’t wait for you to get started!

I took the above picture while hiking through Killarney National Park in Ireland many years ago, and every time I look at it, I can’t help but think of Tolkien’s Middle-earth masterpiece, so I apologize (not really) for all of the Lord of the Rings nerdery running throughout this post!

Our community members love hiking too. In fact, one of our recent success stories specifically cited hiking as one of the fun activities she loved to do to help her lose 50 pounds:

Christina started rocking pull-ups after Nerd Fitness Coaching

By the end of today’s post, my goal is to have you pick a trail, pick a date, and identify a fella or gal to join your fellowship (galship?).

Before we jump in, are you here because you’re learning to hike to lose weight? Did you hear it’s a fun way to exercise and get your body moving?

If so, you’ve come to the right place!

As I mentioned, some clients in our uber-popular 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program used hiking as part of their weight loss training. These folks would rather head outside than jump on a treadmill, and our coaches designed a program so they could do just that!

Here’s how it works: your NF Coach will build a custom workout plan based on your experience level and goals. Training to climb up a literal mountain? Maybe you need to get rid of an old ring? We’ll create a plan to get you to the top!



Alright, let’s get you hiking!

How Do I Find Hiking Trails Near Me? (How to Start Hiking)

The view of a great place to hike.

When you think of hiking, you might imagine a bunch of road-tested perma-travelers with oversized backpacks, hiking through epic mountains for weeks upon weeks at a time. 

Or maybe, a pair of hobbits setting out on a worldwide adventure to destroy a ring of awe-inspiring power.

If you’re just beginning your journey to a better lifestyle, just thinking about serious hiking can be enough to keep you inside your comfy hobbit hole.

Although hiking can be an epic undertaking, it doesn’t need to be!

A hike also can be super simple and fun:

  1. A quick jaunt (such a great word, right?) around your local park after work.
  2. Exploring the woods behind your house with your kids on a Saturday morning.
  3. A half-day hike with your friends on a fun nature trail.
  4. A full day or overnight hike that also includes camping.

Here’s my definition for hiking: A person (or halfing, or self-aware robot) exploring their surroundings and their feet are on the actual ground. Like, dirt. And grass.

Some might say it needs to be difficult, have a certain elevation change, require a blah blah blah. It literally doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you go outside and do something you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Here in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, hikers would fall into the Adventurer class.

If you’re looking for a fun “cardio” activity and want to exercise in a way that’s exciting, hiking is a great way to get your legs, feet, and body used to some strenuous activity.

You get to pick your speed and difficulty, and you can always find the right amount of challenge for you.

HIKING 101: 5 STEPS TO PLAN OUT YOUR ADVENTURE

1) Decide how long you have to hike

This is a beginner’s guide to hiking, we’re not looking to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Instead, we want to start with trails that can be done in less than a day, that won’t require you to pack a tent, or bring an extra change of clothes. Pick a hike based on how much time you have – do you have the entire Sunday? Or do you just have a few hours on a Tuesday afternoon? It took Frodo and Sam 6 months to get to Mordor, but you probably don’t have that much time.

However, if you DID want to “walk to Mordor,” I got you covered there too. You’re welcome!

2) Decide if you’ll be hiking solo or with a friend/group

I love hiking solo – it’s mobile meditation for me.  However, it’s also more dangerous should anything happen while you’re out on the trail! If you’re heading into the wilderness, I’d recommend buddying up with a friend or your significant other for your hike. It’s the perfect bonding opportunity. This is especially true if they have more hiking experience or they know the area that you’re hiking in.

3) Determine your level

If you are a hiking newbie and out of shape, sending yourself out on an eight-hour hike through the unmapped wilderness isn’t a great idea.

Start slow, and pick places around your town that will allow you to stop when necessary and get back to your car or home quickly. No need to be a hero; it’s always better to come back excited and say “wow that was easier than I expected!” than to realize you’re six hours from home and out of steam. Well, being a hero is cool. But not THAT kind of hero.

4) Pick your hiking location

Keep it simple! Go to AllTrails.com, put in your zip code, find your hiking trail!

Or pull up Google Maps and look for big green plots of land. We call those “parks.” Google the park name, learn about it, and decide if that’s where you want to go. Do not overcomplicate this step. Just get started.

Ask your active, adventurous friends or coworkers if they know any good spots.

The world is FULL of hiking trails and awesomeness – you just need to know where to look.

5) Regardless of where you are going, let somebody else know where and when

If you are out hiking alone, take the time to email or call somebody and let him know that you’ll be hiking and when you expect to be back.

We don’t want to hear about any 127 Hours[1] stories on NF…that would make playing video games way more difficult.

You don’t need to tell them the brand of your underwear (please tell me you’re wearing underwear) or how many almonds you’re bringing, but let them know the important details so if they don’t hear back from you by a certain time they know to alert the proper authorities.

So right now, you should have answers to the following questions:

  1. How much time you can dedicate to hiking.
  2. Who you will be hiking with.
  3. Your level of experience
  4. Using AllTrails.com or GoogleMaps to pick your hiking location.
  5. Who you will tell about your hiking experience.
  6. How much XP will I earn by doing this?

That last point is about our fun new habit-building app, which allows you to level up (literally) by going on walks or hikes.

You can try it for free right here:

What Shoes Do I Wear Hiking? (Proper Footwear)

Steve at the Great Wall

This is simple: stilettos, your favorite mini skirt, a fishnet halter top, and a vest made out of raw meat. You’re welcome!

Wait, don’t do that.

I’m a big fan of being comfortable without breaking the bank. Like, you probably already have most of the clothing you need to go hiking.

WHAT SHOES SHOULD I WEAR TO HIKE IN?

We cover footwear extensively in our healthy feet article, but I’ll cover shoes specifically in the case of hiking here.

We at Nerd Fitness are huge fan of Merrell products – Merrell shoes of various types have treated me well for the past decade.

Just don’t let a lack of quality hiking boots keep you from a hike. If you’re concerned, pick an easy-paced hike with your current shoes to be safe and ramp up when you can ramp up your gear!

Some people hike the Appalachian Trail in their bare feet (must be part-Hobbit), so whatever you do: don’t let your footwear options keep you from getting started. Just make sure you break your shoes in and take them on test drives! Don’t take the tags off a new pair of shoes and then go on a multi-day hike – that’s a recipe for blisters and a miserable time.

Okay, let’s look at our feet. 

Now that we’ve done that, let’s look at some shoe options:

LEVEL ONE: Hiking shoes – “hiking shoes” are great if you’re going to be doing simple day hikes or hiking occasionally: they have a good grip on the bottom, give you enough support, but aren’t too heavy that they are a hindrance.

Here are my favorite options if you are in the market for some new basic walking/hiking shoes:

  1. Merrell Vent Hiking Shoe
  2. Merrell Trail Glove 4 (Men) – I have the blue ones. They rock.
  3. Merrell Trail Glove 4 (women)

Oh, what’s that? “Steve, I don’t have hiking shoes! Is this the end of the world?

Well, do you have any sort of athletic shoe? Depending on the grip on the bottom, they could be decently okay for you to get started with when it comes to a basic hike. If sneakers are your only option, lace em up, pick a beginner hike, and see how they do. Just be careful on slippery surfaces – your kicks might not give you the grip you need to get over them.

LEVEL TWO – Hiking boots – I don’t hike enough or do enough multi-day hikes to justify the cost of hiking boots, but again I would point to Merrell boots if you’re in the market.

“Why boots over shoes, Steve?” 

Although many prefer trail shoes (like yours truly), I can absolutely see the value in a great pair of hiking boots if you’re going on a serious hike, traveling for multiple days, or more. They have more ankle support, thicker tread, thicker shoes, and provide your feet with significantly more protection.

REI has a great article helping you pick between Trail shoes and Trail boots. My advice? Start with what you currently have before deciding whether or not to invest in big boots. Once you build up the habit of hiking and decide you want to make it a bigger part of your life, you can make the investment.

My advice? If you are going to buy boots, go to a professional store, get fitted properly, and then break them in over many weeks before going out on a trail.

WEIRD BUT FUN FOR SIMPLE HIKES: Vibram FiveFingers I hiked all around the globe, in various situations, wearing my Vibrams for close to 4 years. They made me feel like a ninja monkey and a hobbit. I got weird looks, but something just felt right about being able to feel the contours of the ground beneath me. I will say, when hiking in Vibrams it can be easier to twist an ankle when stepping on a root or rock, stepping on sharp rocks can hurt, so I found myself watching my feet much more than expected.

These days, I’m much more of a trail shoe kind of guy, but some still swear by Vibrams!

If you’re in the market for buying new boots, this quick video is a good primer:

WHAT SOCKS SHOULD YOU WEAR?

If you’re wearing boots or sneakers, you want to wear socks that aren’t going to give you blisters or make your feet all sweaty and gross.

Depending on how long the hike is, how serious you are about hiking, and your budget, you can look into merino-wool socks.

Like the rest of your outfit, what you wear on your feet will largely be dependent on a few things:

  1. Weather! Are you hiking in the forest and it’s 72 degrees out? Or are you hiking up the side of the mountain in cold conditions?
  2. Shoes! Are you in lightweight hiking shoes, lightweight hiking socks for the win. Hiking in big boots in cold months? Big thick warm socks are almost a requirement.
  3. Budget! Are you shopping for specific socks? Tall or short? Great. If you are brand new to hiking, just wear whatever athletic socks you wear while exercising.
  4. What’s the environment? If you’re hiking through grass, tall plants, etc. I’d go with tall socks (with your pants possibly tucked into them too). You’re not out there to win a fashion show!

Here’s Switchback Travel’s best hiking socks of 2018, and here’s a great article from Art of Manliness on proper feet care after a hike or ruck

What Do I Wear While Hiking? (Clothing)

Steve out hiking in the woods.

SHOULD I WEAR PANTS OR SHORTS?

Pro tip: Don’t go pantless through the wilderness. I cannot stress this enough.

The real advice when it comes to pants/shorts is heavily dependent upon your environment. If it’s going to be cold, shorts might keep you shivering. If it’s going to be hot, pants might get too uncomfortable.

Jeans? Ehhhhh. Sure. ONLY if it’s going to be a comfortable temperature and you have no other option. Being sweaty and hot while wearing jeans isn’t very fun.

I’m a big fan of my nerd pants – the Columbia Silver Ridge pants. Although they look kind of goofy, they’re incredibly lightweight, dry quickly, and can transform from pants to shorts in mere seconds!

Traveling through woods, not sure what you’ll encounter? Wear lightweight pants. I am horribly allergic to poison ivy and who knows what else, so I like to keep as much of my body covered while hiking to make sure I don’t make contact with anything I’m allergic to. [2]

WHAT TYPE OF SHIRT SHOULD I WEAR? 

My favorite options are merino wool long shirts and t-shirts: they’re light, wick away moisture, hide odors, and breathe well – though you will be paying top dollar for them.

If you’re just starting out, pick an old t-shirt and rock that – you can work on optimizing performance once you’ve got a few hikes under your belt.

If you’re on a multi-day hike in various conditions then having lightweight merino wool shirts you can layer and not need to wash would be great. But just going for a hike in the woods in your backyard? Whatever you would wear while running, training, etc. Aka whatever won’t chafe!

SHOULD I BRING A JACKET?

I’ve been wearing this Mountain Hardware jacket on most of my hikes and it has been awesome (10 years and counting) – very lightweight so packing it isn’t a hassle, waterproof so it keeps me dry when it rains, and heavy enough to block the wind to keep me warm when it’s chilly.

Don’t go out of your way to buy a new jacket if you have a decent windbreaker, but if you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking or you’re in the market for a new coat, here’s my advice: go to a local store and try out all of the jackets until you find one you like.

Once you find the perfect jacket, go home and check online (you can sometimes find the same jacket for up to 60% less) – then, ask the local store if they’ll price match or just buy it online.

SHOULD I WEAR A HAT?

You should definitely bring a hat. I’m usually rocking my Nerd Fitness hat or my Red Sox hat (booo Yankees), but while hiking in Australia I wore a hat with a giant floppy brim to keep my ears and face protected from the sun.

The tops of your ears and back of your neck are highly susceptible to getting burned while on the trail, so either get some sunscreen or wear a hat that keeps them covered.

The same is true for keeping pesky things out of your hair, the sun from burning your ears and face, and keep you a bit cooler.

WHAT KIND OF BACKPACK SHOULD I BRING?

Digging into the ins and outs of backpacks is far beyond the scope of this article. I’d recommend you check out my friend Chase’s Bag Review Youtube channel – guaranteed to be the most fun you’ll ever have learning about bags.

So what would I recommend for a beginner on a hike? The bag you currently have! If you’re going on a short hike, you can start with simply whatever bag you have. The lighter and comfier it is, the better.

Multi-day hikes where you’re living out of your bag, packing up, and building a tent each day – this is beyond the scope of this article. I have rocked a Kelty Coyote bag that I’ve lived out of for months at a time, and have also used on multi-day hikes.

If you have the means and the time, and you’re planning to go on certain hikes, go to an outdoor specialty store, speak with a professional, and get fitted for your body type and the type of hike you’re doing!

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: VERSATILITY

If your weather forecast is “75 and sunny,” and you’re hiking for the afternoon through a gradually sloping wooded forest, you can severely limit what you’re bringing with you.

If it’s questionable or looks like things might change during the day, versatility is your best bet – a jacket, pants that can become shorts, a long sleeve shirt that you can take off or roll the sleeves up, etc.

Don’t go out and buy all new stuff until you’re sure hiking is an activity you want to invest in. Borrow from friends, make do with what you have

Just get started.

BY NOW YOU SHOULD HAVE A ROUGH IDEA OF WHAT YOU WILL BE WEARING! 

In your head you should be saying, “Steve how can you read my mind?!

I just decided:

  1. I’d hike in my current gym sneakers.
  2. I have a pair of gardening pants and tall socks I can wear.
  3. I have a floppy hat.

I feel like I’m good to go!

Perfect.

How Much Water Should I Bring On My Hike?

Killarney was a great place to hike.

If there’s ONE thing you should not leave home without, it’s a water container so you can stay hydrated.

“How much water should I be drinking on my hike, Steve?”

Great question. I knew you were smart from the moment you started reading this article.

You should be drinking 1 liter of water every two hours as a rough guideline. Increase this amount if you are hiking in very warm/desert climates.

FAVORITE WATER CONTAINERS:

I’m partial to stainless steel bottles or aluminum bottles over Nalgene or reused plastic bottles, but make do with what you have.  Just make sure you bring enough water with you to keep you hydrated through your adventure.

Going on longer hikes?

Get yourself a hydration backpack (which can double as your hiking pack!) to transplant water more conveniently.

Not only that but make sure you have been consuming water before you go hiking so that you’re not starting at a hydration deficit.

Hangovers + early morning hikes – water = bad news bears.

What Gear Should I Bring on My Hike? (Sunscreen, Knives, and First Aid Kits)

Steve hanging at at Machu Picchu

If you’re just getting started, I’m going to guess you won’t be climbing to the top of a mountain in Alaska, but rather going on an introductory hike that will help build your confidence and get you rolling.

Here’s what I’d recommend you bring with you on your adventure:

  1. SunscreenIf it’s sunny outside and you’re hiking through the woods or up a mountain with a cool breeze in your face, you probably won’t be able to tell that your ears and face are getting absolutely torched. Get yourself some waterproof sweatproof sunscreen (SPF 30 minimum) to cover up those ears, cheeks, and back of your neck.
  2. Bug spray especially if it’s “that time of the year” in your area where bugs are out in full force. Nothing worse than coming home to arms and legs covered in bug bites.
  3. First aid kit – Having some first aid stuff with you is a good idea: band-aids and moleskin for blisters and cuts, Neosporin or some type of disinfectant for cuts/scrapes, and maybe a bandage or two just in case. Outdoor stores sell travel first aid kits (as does Amazon), but I’d advise you to make your own (you should have these things in your medicine cabinet anyway – and then you’ll know exactly where everything is!).
  4. Pocket knife – Not essential if you’re in a park, but a good thing to have with you out in the woods so you’re prepared for anything. Like McGyver.
  5. Sunglasses – No need to go blind while out on the trail. You probably already have sunglasses floating around your house: I’d recommend bringing the $5 ones rather than $250 Ray-Bans.
  6. Cellphone – a phone can help bail you out in case of an emergency, and if you have a smartphone it can multitask as your compass, distance tracker, mapper, and so on. Even if you have a cellphone, bringing a compass or GPS system isn’t a bad idea (unless it’s bright and sunny and you’re good at orienting yourself).

If you’re going on a longer hike, bringing a lightweight phone charger that you can use to charge your phone up quickly is usually pretty easy.

What Food Should I Bring Hiking? What Should I Eat on a Day Hike?

Nuts are great hiking snacks.

FOOD!

You know, the stuff that keeps us alive.

The answer to this will vary greatly depending on how long you plan on hiking for, the time of day, your love of snacking, so the advice here is going to largely mirror the advice we give in our nutritional posts!

Although by no means a complete list of snacks, this is usually what I like to pack in my bag before a hike:

  1. Nuts – Almonds or walnuts. Great for snacking on, loaded w/ healthy fat and protein. Nut butters are a good healthy fat option too – my favorite is Trader Joe’s raw unsalted almond butter. Ingredient: almonds! They are high in calorie content however, so if you are trying to lose weight, don’t do a 10-minute walk and eat 4000 calories worth of nuts. We in the business like to call that “counterproductive.”
  2. Fruit – I throw two or three apples in my bag; apples and nuts mean I’ve pretty much got all of the fat, protein, and carbs I need for my day. Things like bananas, raisins, and other fruit are good options as well – pick based on your personal preference and tastes. Just be careful with dried fruit, because it can have lots of sugar and calories, so don’t kid yourself into eating 5000 calories worth of dried fruit and call it healthy! It’s something we explore in-depth in our guide “Is Fruit Healthy?
  3. Beef jerky! Make your own or go with some high-quality store-bought stuff. Lots of protein, easy to pack, and keeps well. Mmmmmm.

What about trail mix or granola bars? You’d probably think granola bars and trail mix are synonymous with hiking, but I’m actually not a fan of either unless they’re homemade – these products are usually loaded with salt/sugar and processed grains and are pretty damn unhealthy.

If you’re gonna go with trail mix, make your own with dried fruit and raw unsalted nuts. If you DON’T have other options, tossing a few granola bars in the bag isn’t the end of the world.

More food advice here:

Primal Trail Food

A book (optional) – I LOVE READING (more than I love lowercase letters), so I always travel with my Kindle. Although hiking with friends can be fun, I also get a huge thrill out of hiking out to a remote location overlooking a valley or sitting on the edge of a river with a book so that I can spend a few hours getting lost in a story.

If it’s a multi-day hike and you’re avoiding technology, then bringing a dead tree book is worth the extra weight in your bag!

A camera (optional) – Although I have a camera that I travel with, most of the pictures I’ve been taking recently have been done with my iPhone using apps like Camera+ or ProHDR (which I freaking love). Both apps are worth the price.

You don’t need to be a great photographer, just need to capture the moment to look back on fondly as a crotchety old grandpa. Obviously, if you’re a serious photographer, you’ve already planned to pack your DSLR so I won’t get into that.

Seven Hiking Tips for Beginners

Steve hanging out with an ostrich.

  1. KNOW THE LOCAL WILDLIFE! Do a quick search of your hike to know what sorts of critters you’ll encounter on the trail. If you are hiking in bear country or snake country, these are things it’s very important to know. Whether it’s carrying a can of bear mace or knowing what to look for, this can help you prevent serious problems. Also, watch out for wild ostriches.
  2. CLEAN UP, CHECK FOR TICKS – if you’re in a heavily wooded area and carving through the wilderness, check yourself for ticks and make sure you take a shower with hot water and soap immediately when you get home in case you came in contact with any poisonous plants or things like that. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up with a swollen face as a kid because of my hike through poison ivy the day before.
  3. AIM FOR THE HIGH GROUND – I love hiking to tall things: the top of a mountain, the high point in a town, the roof of a building. It gives you a great halfway point to stop, eat some lunch or dinner, and enjoy the view; plus, you already know exactly how far you need to go on your way down. One piece of advice on going DOWN a steep mountain or a lot of steps: Shorten your stride, and take care to land on the balls of your feet with a bent knee if possible – if you’re landing on your heels for thousands of steps, it can wreak havoc on your knees and joints as there’s no shock absorption. I remember how sore my knees were the day after hiking down Colca Canyon in Peru with my buddy Cash because I didn’t make an effort to soften my steps and take care of my body.
  4. URBAN HIKING – “But Steve I live in a city, I can’t go hiking!” Why the hell not? Load up your backpack, map out a route on Google Maps, maybe even find a tall building – avoid the elevator, climb the steps. Or walk until you find a park, sit on a bench, and read a book. Sure, it’s not the same as hiking the Rockies, but it will still get your heart pumping and feet moving! Like The Goonies teaches us, adventure can be found in your own backyard with the right attitude!
  5. KEEP TRACK OF IT – If you have an iPhone or Android, download a hiking or running app to keep track of how far you go and how much hiking you do. Although I haven’t been tracking my hikes abroad (I leave my phone in Airplane mode while traveling), I’ve heard great things about RunKeeper and EasyTrails. If you have more apps or suggestions on how to keep track of your hikes, let me know in the comments and I’ll add them here. I personally use a cheap Fitbit Flex 2, which tracks my steps and elevation. Good enough!
  6. GEOCACHING – Great fun can be had while geocaching. Simply go to the website, track your location, and then decide on which cache you’re going to track down. Think of it as a real-life version of Indiana Jones or Uncharted, minus the Nazis and undead warriors. We geocached around Sydney for a Nerd Fitness meetup, and it was delightful!
  7. GIVE A HOOT, DON’T POLLUTE – Pack it in, pack it out. If you bring anything with you, it better be coming back with you. Don’t leave trash in the woods, and pick up any extra trash you see out there. The wilderness thanks you for your service, citizen!

Not all those who wander are lost (sTART hIKING tODAY)

What shoes should you bring hiking?

This article is just a primer, meant to whet your appetite and make you excited to go hiking and exploring the wonderful world around us. 

Here are a few other resources on hiking if you want more information.  Feel free to let me know more in the comments:

  1. Tips for Primal/Paleo Hiking
  2. Hiking Emergencies on Art of Manliness
  3. American Hiking Society

I challenge you to plan a hike for this upcoming weekend. YES, even if you’re in the opposite hemisphere and it’s really cold out!

Get some great snacks, strap on your shoes, grab a friend, and go explore.

I’d love to hear from you about the place you’re going hiking this weekend.

Leave a comment below and let me know:

  1. Where you’re going.
  2. When you’re going.
  3. And what you’re most excited about!
  4. Promise that you won’t hike pants-less.
  5. Any tips you have for your fellow hikers.

-Steve

PS: Still unsure if you’ll be ready for your big hike? I’ll again remind you of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program. We have clients who successfully used the program to train for hiking up large mountains, and we’d love to see if we can help you too!

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner

PPS: If Coaching ain’t your bag, you can always use our new app to jumpstart your new adventures!

###

photo credit: 77krc Mixed Nuts

All other photos from my Photostream

 



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40 Ways to Exercise without Realizing It: Make Exercise FUN!

40 Ways to Exercise without Realizing It: Make Exercise FUN!


Have fun while exercising!

I know plenty of people who hate exercise but WANT to find a way to like it.

And that’s what today’s post is all about:

Exercising in a way where life doesn’t suck AND helps you reach your goals.

Luckily, this is exactly what we do for a living!

I know what it’s like to hate exercise, and ALSO want to lose weight and see results. Ugh.

We’ve built an entire company and community around helping people overcome these obstacles – our Online Coaching Program helps people find exercises they love, and also how to make the right nutritional choices.

We are all on a unique journey and we’d love to help you with yours!



ExercIse Sucks. Do This Instead.garfield

“But Steve, I don’t like to exercise!”

While some are like Odie and love to run around all day, others are like Garfield and feel like they must be allergic to exercise.

I hear this every day, and I’m not surprised.

After all, I think “exercise” sucks too.

Which is why we’re gonna focus on exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise!

Will Ferrell thinks having fun while exercising is important too!

After all, nutrition is like 90% of the equation

Exercise is merely a supporting actor, which is why we don’t ever NEED to spend time doing exercise we hate.

We’ve already talked extensively on Nerd Fitness on how to eat nutritiously, so I won’t hash that out here.

So let’s talk about exercise.

Sure, it would be great if we all strength trained 5 days a week and got super strong, but the reality is most of us don’t have that time – or the desire – to hit the gym.

And more importantly – the best exercise program is the one you actually do!

And thus today we’re going to focus on TWO key elements of getting more exercise in our lives:

#1) FIDGETING:

Did you know ‘fidgeting’ (aka “small micromovements”) can account for up to 350 additional calories burned per day?

Per the New York Times:

Overweight people have a tendency to sit, while lean ones have trouble holding still and spend two hours more a day on their feet, pacing around and fidgeting, researchers are reporting in findings published today.

The difference translates into about 350 calories a day…

350 extra calories burned per day ain’t no joke!

As we cover in our “How many calories should I eat every day?” guide, burning an extra 350 calories per day can result in sustainable weight loss and maintenance over time for many.

Not only that, but when you factor in inertia (an object at rest tends to stay at rest, and object in motion tends to stay in motion), it paints a pretty interesting picture:

We spend our lives trying to be more “efficient.” What if the key to weight loss is to be LESS efficient?

From standing up more frequently to parking FARTHER away from the grocery store, every additional step or movement counts. Today’s guide shares TONS of ways to get yourself used to moving more frequently.

I’m actually air drumming and shuffling my feet as we speak!

Play the air drums like the Foo Fighters - it counts as fun exercise

#2) FUN EXERCISE:

Who cares what the optimal workout is?

Unless you have a very specific physique you’re trying to build, ANY exercise is good exercise.

From dancing to yoga to climbing to roughhousing with your kids, it all counts.

This brings me to today’s point:

Exercise is a bonus. Exercise helps your heart get stronger, can help build muscle, usually gets you outside the house and absorbing vitamin D, and brings you a litany of other health benefits. Also, any additional calories burned is a bonus!

Exercise can help us make fewer unhealthy food choices. Instead of “I earned this” you can start telling yourself: “If I’m going to exercise regularly, I might as well make it worth it by eating right too.”

Daily exercise is a constant reminder that we are leveling up our lives – that we should continue to make other good choices or we’re practically wasting our time.

This is the type of stuff we focus on – with personalized instruction, with each of our online coaching clients.

Some clients are learning Olympic lifting, while others are simply focusing on taking the stairs more and tracking their food.

We are all on a unique journey and we’d love to help you with yours!



40 Ways to Exercise Without Exercising

A border collie dog playing with a frisbee

#1) Hiking, especially with friends – Strap on a pair of shoes, get out of the comfy confines of your hobbit-hole, and go explore the world around you!

Make sure you follow our Beginner Hiking Guide on how to find a hiking spot near you, what shoes to wear, what to bring with you, and more.

#2) Walking – No time to hike? Go for a simple walk. Even a 15-minute brisk walk is enough time to get close to a mile walked, which gets you one step closer to Mordor.

Sam and Frodo walked to Mordor, why not go for a walk too?

Do you have a 30-minute meeting at work? Have a walking meeting instead. Steve Jobs was known for doing this.

You should know Tim, a member of our Nerd Fitness community who lost 50 pounds – while injured – just by fixing his nutrition and going for long walks every day!

I’m proud that Tim used the philosophies laid out in our online courses under Nerd Fitness Prime to get his results!

Tim lost 50 pounds with the Nerd Fitness Academy

#3) LARP – Live Action Role Playing. Might seem silly to those on the outside, but to those playing, it’s an amazing adventure that reminds us how awesome our imaginations are.

Also, depending on the game, you could be wearing a heavy costume, swinging heavy weaponry, and running for your life!

#4) Rock Climbing – I love rock climbing. It’s one of the best arm/back/forearm workouts in existence, you get to feel like a badass when you reach the top of the wall, and all climbing routes are graded so you can level up the challenge as you get stronger/fitter/better.

It’s a fit nerd’s dream!

#5) Geocaching – If rock climbing is a fit-nerd’s dream, then geocaching is an adventure nerd’s dream brought to life. Become a real-life treasure-hunter (Lara Croft? Nathan Drake? You decide!), and get a great workout in while you’re at it.

Or, if you’re truly nerdy, you can do some Digital Geocaching with Pokemon Go or Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

#6) Dancing – Ever tried serious swing dancing? You’ll be sweating within ten minutes. How about hip hop? Drenched in sweat, and sore as hell the next day.

Zumba? Tango? Flamenco? You’d be surprised at what you can sign up for and what will elevate your heart rate.

#7) Roughhousing with your kids. I don’t have kids, but when I do, you can bet your ass I’ll be the dad out rolling around in the back yard with them. Don’t forget what it’s like to be a kid – it keeps you young.

I really enjoyed this article from Art of Manliness on the importance of roughhousing!

#8) Climbing on stuff – A few years back, I attended a great conference, Midoricon, and I was walking through the woods with NF Rebel Joe (No, not THAT Joe).

It was awesome to see this guy, having lost 100 pounds since finding Nerd Fitness, explore the woods like it was no problem: climbing on stumps, balancing on fallen trees, climbing trees, and more. 

We work with LOTS of Coaching Clients to get them outdoors and help build them “fun climbing programs” that burn tons of calories but don’t really feel like exercise.



#9) Martial arts – Be honest. You watched The Matrix, you heard Neo go “I know Kung Fu” and you wanted to be able to one day say the same thing.

Whether it’s Kung Fu, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, Karate or Capoeira (breakdance fighting, seriously), there’s a martial art out there that will make you feel like a badass.

And might help you defeat your archenemy. 

#10 Consider a standing desk – Although we all know that correlation does not prove causation, it’s no surprise that there’s a strong correlation between sitting all day and an unhealthy lifestyle.

Why not fix your posture, strengthen your legs, get more “fidget time” in, and spend the day being more productive with a standing desk? I have THIS desk and it allows me to switch between sitting and standing.

If you don’t want to stand all day, make sure you read up on our guide, “how to survive sitting all day in an office.”

#11) Have an active meeting – Hat tip to Charlie Hoehn on this one. If somebody wants to meet up with you for coffee, suggest something active: throwing a baseball, tossing a frisbee, going for a hike – anything that gets you up and moving.

I say yes to pretty much anybody that invites me to play golf. Wink wink.

Golf is a fun form of exercise, even if you stink at it!

#12) You know… that thing that consenting adults do?

Yeah. Do that.

Self-explanatory.

Moving on…

#13) Clean! – Ugh, nobody likes to clean the house/apartment. It’s not my favorite thing to do. So I instead make a game out of it.

I see how much I can accomplish with a single song blasting at max volume, while probably also dancing. I also CRUSH podcasts while doing the dishes.

Of course, after getting through one song, I figure “welp, I’ve already started, might as well keep going.”

#14) Try handstands – This is a fun activity that builds up some serious arm and core strength and will leave you sweating bullets after even a few minutes.

Rebel Leader Steve showing you how to kick up to a handstand.

So go find a park, go do handstands, cartwheels, somersaults, and whatever else makes you feel young again.

Here’s our guide on How to Do Handstands.

#15) Parkour – Our Beginner’s Guide to Parkour is one of the most popular on Nerd Fitness. I don’t care how old you are, there’s no reason you can’t get started with rolling around in your yard and vaulting over picnic tables and bike racks.

Or, you can do it in your office:

#16) Playout – Is Parkour too serious for you? Try a playout! Spiderman was on to something – climbing walls, swinging from skyscrapers, and popping flips around the bad guys.

You might not be able to swing between buildings, but you can definitely visit a playground in your area and get creative!

#17) Adult gymnastics – In the same vein as parkour, gymnastics will help you build some of the BEST real-world strength you can get with any type of exercise, and it’s all done in a playful way without a single weight being picked up.

Swing from rings, somersault, flip onto pads, and more.

There are gyms all over the country.

#18) Yoga – Build flexibility and strength, plus learn to freaking relax.

There are a million kinds of Yoga, including awesome stuff like Acro-Yoga, baby goat Yoga (not kidding), and Yoga with beer.

Sign up for a few different kinds and see which one lines up the best with what you’re looking for.

#19) Play video games that make you be active – Beat Saber. DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) counts too. Just Move. Anything that gets you off your ass and moving!

Oh, what’s that? You’re playing a normal game like Grand Theft Auto V? Make a rule that you can only play while standing up, or that you have to do 10 push-ups every time you die.

That’s what I do to keep myself from spending twelve hours on the couch in marathon gaming sessions!

#20) Play on a playground – Go down the slide, swing across the monkey bars, climb the rope all, balance on the balance beam.

Create an obstacle course for yourself and see how quickly you can get through it.

You can even work out on a playground too:

#21) Play a musical instrument – Did you know playing musical instruments can burn a boatload of calories too?

I imagine this is doubly true if you’re dancing around like Taylor Davies playing the violin.

#22) Join a Rec League – New in town? Want to be active and meet people? Join a co-ed kickball, softball, or tennis league.

You get to exercise AND it’s a great way to meet new people through exercise!

#23) Bike to work – I know there are a lot of Rebels in our community who dropped a bunch of weight by making one change: they biked to work, or biked to their friend’s house, or started biking generally.

You get from Point A to Point B, you save money on gas, and you get a workout.

Plus, you can do it with friends!

a gif of the biking scene from the Muppet movie

Here’s our Guide to Biking if you want some help getting started. 

#24) Play a childhood game – What games did you play as a child? Capture the flag? Kick the can? Simple tag?

Get a few friends together and give it a try – it will be the most fun you’ve had in a while!

#25) Park at the far end of the parking lot – Every step counts.

Every tiny decision that is slightly different than the “OLD you” counts.

IT ALL COUNTS when it comes to burning more calories than you consume every day.



#26) Take the stairs. It’s only two flights! And we are designed to move. You can do this.

Sure, you’ll get winded the first handful of times. But it eventually becomes routine.

And it all counts! Make a game out of it.

#27) Crush audiobooks while “exercising.” This is called ‘temptation bundling.‘ Pair something you love with an activity you’re trying to do more of.

But I bet if you could only listen to Harry Potter (for the 600th time) while walking on a treadmill, you’d be more likely to get to the gym.

#28) Build stuff. Whether you’re building a fort with your kid in the backyard, or trying to figure out why you have 5 extra screws in that IKEA dresser you’re putting together, building stuff involves lots of moving and bending and picking up and maneuvering.

Warning: you’ll swear no less than 100 times building furniture. Earmuffs! 

#29) Sit in a squat, or pike position on the floor while watching TV. No, not leaning against the couch. Sitting up actively engaging your core!

You can also do some sort of stretch or movement like these bodyweight exercises during commercials (or in the 15 seconds between Netflix episodes!)

#30) Impromptu dance parties. Kids or no kids, I find that great Disney songs are fantastic for bringing out your inner child.

Blast the tunes, dance around the house, and be absurd. WHO CARES! As a wise woman once said…”Let it gooooooo.”

Napoleon spontaneously busts into dance for fun exercise

#31) Go for a walk while on the phone. What if you just decided you had to stand for all of your phone calls?

For starters, I know many people who do phone interviews while standing because it makes them more alert and a better guest.

Next: you’re gonna get so many steps in while on the phone without realizing it!

#32) Having an impromptu picnic. Instead of sitting and gorging yourself at the dining room table, why not eat on the floor?

Grab a blanket or a towel, eat in your living room or head out into the backyard, and make it a picnic!

You’ll need to adjust your posture and seating style constantly.

#33) Sit in a squat. We cover this in our “How to squat” guide, but sitting in a deep squat – often for long timeframes – is built into us as a species! We’ve just become soft from sitting in chairs all day long.

I try to accumulate 15 minutes of “squat time” each day – sitting in a squat while reading a chapter in a book, or journaling, or answering an email with my laptop on the ground.

Here I am sitting in a squat while reading Level Up Your Life (available online and in bookstores nationwide!)

Steve sitting in a squat reading the book, Level Up Your Life

#34) The “Pull-up bar Tax”. Get yourself a door-frame pull-up bar. Put it on a door that you have to cross through regularly.

And every time you go through, you have to do either 1 pull-up, 1 negative pull-up, or 10 seconds of hanging from the bar.

Can’t do a pull-up yet? Learn how to get your first pull-up or chin-up.

#35) Lasers around the house. Set up colored string pulled tightly across your kid’s rooms or in certain hallways, and you have to go over and under the lasers each time you traverse the hallway.

Kids walking through a lazer hallway

Don’t touch the lasers!

#36) Climb a tree. Your level of safety and ability on this will be dependent on your experience here, but I remember climbing trees like a monkey as a kid and loving every minute of it.

Even if it’s just hanging from a tree branch or trying to scramble up to a low branch, it can be a great way to “exercise.”

#37) The floor is lava. This is both great for exercising around your apartment, for a fun date night or night with the kids, and for playing True American. Though one is slightly more healthy than the other.

#38) Casual Parkour. From avoiding cracks on the sidewalk to balancing on curbs, or jumping from tile to tile, or hopping up onto a bench and then back down, it all counts!

Just get yourself to move differently than you would have otherwise! We are currently working with a woman who has lost 100-pounds through our Coaching Program, and her exercise is all “fun parkour in the woods behind the house!”



#39) Literally fidget more! Yes, from tapping your toes to music and twitching your legs to the beat of the music. Getting up and sitting back down. Doing laps around your office.

You don’t need to get a standing desk or treadmill desk, but there’s a definite correlation between those that can’t sit still and body composition.[1]

#40) Your kid is a backpack! From piggyback rides to playing horsey, staying active with your kids is really powerful in instilling a love of fitness in them.

If you’re a badass mom like Brownwyn – a success story from Nerd Fitness Prime, you can even do pull-ups while your kid holds on!

Here are more tips on how to work out as a whole family.

Challenge yourself to Have fun: Next Steps!

Legs walking on steel pipe with balance

If you are looking for more guidance beyond the 40 Fun Exercise Suggestions above, we have three options to continue your journey:

1) Join our epic Online Coaching Program! We create personalized programs for each customer based on their lifestyle, goals, and personality. From parkour in the park to just walking more with your children, or even “becoming a badass powerlifter,” we cater each experience to each person.



2) If you’re looking for a bunch of fun ways to exercise, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you move more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

We assign fun missions daily to get you to exercise in a way that doesn’t feel like exercise…because it’ll feel like a side quest instead.

Try your free trial (no credit card needed) right here:

3) Enlist in The Rebellion (it’s free)! Sign up for our biweekly newsletter and join the Nerd Fitness Rebellion!

I’ll send you tons of free guides and bonuses to help you get started on your journey today.

Sign up below:

No matter which path you pick above, I want you to commit to trying something new, or doing something different, at some point in the next week:

  • Say yes before you can say no. Stop saying “I don’t have time” and realize you do. Stop saying “I can’t afford it” and find a way to make it a priority. Do all of this before you can talk yourself out of it. The best way to do that?
  • Commit in advance. Put down a deposit and make an investment in yourself. I pre-paid 6 weeks of swing dance lessons. Having already paid for it, I knew I’d be just throwing my money away if I didn’t attend.
  • Go with a friend. I went to my swing classes alone, which forced me to further develop my social skills, but if you happen to be TOO afraid to attend a class, get a friend to drag you there.
  • Expect to suck. If you are learning a new skill, expect to suck at it. You’ll get better as long as you remember to…
  • Have fun. Remember, we could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Every day above ground is a blessing, so enjoy it!
  • When in doubt, move more.

That one thing you always wanted to try but have been putting off?

Today’s a good day to get started. Just take that FIRST step.

Google classes in your city. Find a site that focuses on beginners, and read about it. If there’s a place to pre-pay or make a deposit, do it.

And then go.

Use 20 seconds of courage if you have to.

What’s the one new thing you’re going to try this month?

-Steve

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photo credit: Reiterlied 02/52 – Confidence, JD Hancock Garfield, treadmill fall, Denes Paragi © 123RF.com, It’s Always Autumn: Lazer Hallway, lzflzf © 123RF.com



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Workout Routine for a 12-Hour or Night Shift

Workout Routine for a 12-Hour or Night Shift


How does this owl stay in shape while working nights?

If you work a 12-hour or night shift, this guide is going to be a game-changer.

Working weird hours provides a challenge for those looking to get in shape, so I’ll provide a step-by-plan to help you reach your fitness goals.

Because I’m nice like that. And I like you.

This is 100% doable.

After all, Batman is super ripped and he works nights too.

Today we’ll cover:

Weird hours be damned, I’m gonna help you build up momentum.

These are the exact strategies we work with our night-shift clients in our 1-on-1 Coaching Program! Although each situation is unique, we have certain principles that are universal and can help you start living healthier even when your work life is crazy.

Want to see if we are a good fit for each other? Click on the button below to schedule a free call. We’d love to talk to you, no matter what!



How to Lose Weight Working a 12-Hour or Night Shift?

Two LEGOs with torch

Now, whether you work weird hours or normal hours, diet is still responsible for 80-90% of your success or failure when it comes to getting in shape.

80-90 PERCENT.

This is both a blessing and a curse. It means you don’t need to freak out if you miss a workout after a long night shift, but it also means you gotta take care of yourself while you are working.

Simply put, if you’re not losing weight, it’s because you’re eating too many calories. So if you’re trying to lose weight while working a night shift or working 12-hour shifts, you need to find ways to eat fewer calories without driving yourself crazy.

I’m a fan of any diet that gets you to accomplish this goal, but you know yourself better than others. So any “diet” may help you, as long as you have access to food for that particular way of eating. 

This isn’t a problem, as we have a plan for that!

This just means you need to become the master of meal preparation.

“But Steve I don’t have time to prepare food!” you say.

Yeah, I heard you.

What you’re REALLY saying is, “But Steve, preparing food ahead of time isn’t a priority for me.”

If you are working overnight shifts, you’re gonna need to bring in your own food. Want to know how easy it is?

Here are 3 easy steps to feed yourself on a graveyard shift:

  1. Purchase a bunch of chicken breast on Sunday Night (or whatever night you actually have off). Cook them on a tray in the oven, ALL of them. Put them in separate containers or bags in your fridge.
  2. Purchase a bunch of $1 steam fresh bags of frozen veggies. Stick them in the fridge at your workplace.
  3. Need more calories/carbs in your diet? Buy some sweet potatoes. Microwave one and put it on your plate.

This is my personal strategy for meal prep.

You can watch me make this recipe of Super Simple Chicken for Lazy People right here:

In about 3 minutes and minimal effort, you know have a well-balanced meal.

“But that’s boring!” Sheesh, I have to do EVERYTHING, huh? Welp, get creative, sucka!

  1. Chop up the chicken and put it in a big salad with whatever you prefer (and keep it in your fridge).
  2. Make stir fry, put some in containers in your fridge, and then heat it up on your break.
  3. Google “chicken paleo marinade” and mix up how you prepare chicken. Or steak. Or pork. Or salmon.

YES, this does require effort. YES, this does require preparation. YES, it does work. YES, you will find your rhythm with it.

Again, it comes down to two things: priorities and excuses:

Do you REALLY not have time? Or are you using “I don’t have time” as an excuse to feel sorry for yourself?

Is your job REALLY stopping you from getting in shape? Or is it a convenient excuse to use when you go to Taco Bell or the vending machine?

Remember: nobody believes your excuses except for you. It may seem harsh, but overcoming the “this won’t work for me” mindset will be the first battle we need to win.

You can do this. Just don’t let “perfect’ be the enemy of the “good.”

How to not gain weight while working 12-hour and night shifts: Avoid these things!

The sugar in RedBull may not be doing you any favors for staying in shape.

Let’s talk about things to eat and avoid while on shift work: the good, the bad, the ugly.

Whether you’re at a desk or up stocking shelves or making your rounds, you probably deal with one of four points:

  1. Exhaustion: Let’s be honest, when you work a night shift or early shift, you never get as much sleep as if you were sleeping during the night with normal hours.
  2. Lack of “time.” If you’re working long days/nights and trying to raise a family/have a social life, food preparation probably doesn’t figure into your schedule. You need convenience, even if you have to pay a bit more for it.
  3. Hunger: If you forgot to pack your “meal” or “meals,” your only option is to eat what you can find, which is unlikely to be nutritious at that time of day.
  4. Boredom: If you are making rounds or stuck at a desk during the middle of the night, there may be more periods of downtime than if you were working during the day.

A bored security guard

So you’re tired, hungry, bored, and struggle with time management.

Where do you turn? Caffeine!

Now, I have no problem with Caffeine. I wake up every morning and drink a few cups of green tea while sitting at my desk to write. We’ve even covered caffeine extensively on this site already. The short version? Don’t get caught in bad liquid calorie trap:

  • Empty liquid calories are the devil. If you are drinking soda, energy drinks, or lattes for the caffeine, understand that you are also probably consuming hundreds of calories and 50+ grams of sugar. And these extra calories are contributing to your waistline. So read the labels or do the research before you drink six Monster drinks, a case of coke, or a Coffee Coolata. 
  • If you’re going to get caffeine, get it from a healthy source: Black coffee, green tea, and a no-calorie or low-calorie energy drink (Monster Zero Carb, for example). Try to wean yourself off the gallons of caffeine and work your way over to black coffee/green tea as time goes on (they have some helpful nutrients). Hopefully, once you start exercising, you’ll have more energy and need less caffeine to survive your shifts.

Avoid the drinks that don’t give you any nutritional value and are full of sugar and calories. See if you can get your caffeine from better sources. Speaking of better sources of calories…

What Liquid Calories Will Help Your 12 Hour or Night Shift

A smoothie can be a quick meal for your night shift.

Low on time? Need a meal? Make yourself a smoothie!  

Depending on what you put into it or where it comes from, a smoothie can be an incredibly healthy option for meals during the night or as you’re running out the door to your shift.

A few tips on making smoothies: Buy yourself a cheap blender (or, a ridiculously nice one). Have one at home, or in the break room at work.

Give this recipe a shot for a smoothie that will get you through your shift:

  1. Frozen fruit (I usually go with the strawberries or berry medley from Trader Joe’s).  
  2. A cup of unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened coconut milk, or cold water.
  3. A scoop of protein (I use Optimum Nutrition Vanilla, but I hear the Chocolate is delicious).
  4. A few ice cubes if you want to ‘thicken it up’ a bit
  5. (Optional) Organic frozen spinach. Doesn’t change the taste, but gets you a serving of veggies.

I drink a smoothie similar to the one above for a meal almost on a daily basis (though I add in extra carbs and calories because I’m attempting to pack on extra weight). It looks like so:

The Powerbomb Protein Shake Recipe

Can’t bring a blender to work? Stick a scoop of protein in a shaker bottle, and BAM – there’s 25 g of protein prepared in 60 seconds. Add a bag of mixed veggies from the microwave and you’ve got yourself a really weird meal that is pretty damn easy to prepare and pretty damn good for you.

A word of caution: Smoothies from Smoothie King don’t count, as they have more sugar than two cans of Coke and HUNDREDS of calories. Naked Juices are also full of sugar, as we point out here:

The Green Machine is more or less just a bottle of sugar.

They might look healthy, but they’re not. LOOK AT THE LABEL AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE CALORIE SUGAR CONTENT!  

Foods to Avoid on a 12-Hour or Night Shift

Choose your food carefully on your 12 hour or night shift.

Now, along with empty liquid calories, let’s talk about empty food calories.

When you are at your desk, are you eating snacks while answering the phone or while on your rounds through the hospital?  

Personally, I’m a big fan of No Snacking, as I find I tend to eat more calories than I need during the day, simply because I’m not paying attention (check out the research in that snacking article for more).

Bring some healthy snacks with you if you’re going to be snacking. My personal favorite would be apple slices with almond butter, but don’t forget almond butter can be very high in calories and easily over-consumed too

If you struggle with overeating, look at your snacking at your night job. Are you eating because you are bored? Are you eating because you’re not paying attention? Are you eating because you’ve trained your body to expect food every 5 seconds?

If it’s any of these things, try the “No eating AND _________” strategy:

  • No eating and surfing the internet.
  • No eating and watching TV shows.
  • No eating AND _____.

If you’re going to eat, that’s the only thing you’re going to do. This can help you not accidentally, absentmindedly over calories.

It’s something we bring up in our Guide for Portion Control

Workout Routines for a 12-Hour or Night Shift

Joe got in shape by prioritizing diet and exercise.

Let’s move on to the other 10-20% of the equation: exercise!

It’s no surprise around these parts that I’m a HUGE proponent of strength training. Guys like Joe (above) travel two weeks a month and yet still manage to have tremendous transformation because they are smart with their time.

From an efficiency standpoint, no other type of exercise gives you as much bang for your buck (aka: the most results with the least amount of time spent exercising).

You can get an incredible workout that exhausts all of your muscles and burns a crazy number of calories (not just during the workout, but in the hours afterward as your body tries to rebuild all of the muscle). Just reference any Nerd Fitness success story, all built with strength training and healthy eating.

So, if your time is limited, and your focus is staying healthy/losing weight, you need to be strength training and walking.

When’s the best time to work out? When you will actually do it! If you find yourself too exhausted after your 12-hour shift (and I don’t blame you), then get your workout done before you go to work, even if you only have twenty minutes! Heck, even if you only have 10 minutes!

As far as the workout itself...

You don’t need to be going to a gym (though if you do, big lifts like squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and pull-ups are going to get you the best results – ask Staci), you can work out at home before your shift starts with a simple workout like the Beginner Bodyweight Circuit.  

I know you don’t need a gym to grow strong because we see it daily here in the Rebellion. We work with coaching clients and design custom programs that take into account each person’s work environment, home environment, and equipment they have available. It works.

We also have the Nerd Fitness Journey which gives you more bodyweight routines and gym routines if you’re looking for specific instruction and exercise demonstrations.

You can try it out right here: 

If you are somebody that works a few days on (for long shifts) and a few days off, try this: a really intense strength building routine on your first day off from work and again on your last day. Two strength training days combined with walks and proper eating (on your work days) is more than enough to get you quality results.

Spreading out the Workout Throughout Your Long Shift

Want to stay in shape? Do pull-ups wherever you can.

Don’t be afraid of simply exercising here and there, when you can.

Check out the Angry Birds Workout and split up your workout throughout your shift:

  • Do squats in the supply closet. Weirdo? YUP. Who cares?
  • Push-ups and planks in your cubicle.
  • Pull-ups on the bus stop overhang waiting to go to work? I’ve been there.
  • Dumbbell rows with your desk and briefcase/backpack.
  • Walking up the stairs on your break. Why not?

It all adds up, and every little bit is better than nothing. The strength training benefits are key, but there’s one other key benefit to exercising throughout the day.

Coach Matt provides more tips on how to sneak in your training throughout the day right here: 

And trust me, as a father of five who works from home, Matt knows how to sneak in his training.

Staying Active During Your 12-Hour or Night Shift

To stay in shape working weird hours, workout whenever you can.

Along with strength training, just staying active will help.  

I actually have a timer (FocusBooster) on my laptop that goes off every 15 minutes to remind me to get up, walk around, stretch, do some push-ups, etc. Your phone can do the same thing! Technology, amazing.

Stand up at your desk if you can – mix up standing and sitting.

Go for a walk around the office. If you are a nurse or doctor you are probably already doing a considerable amount of walking to make your rounds, so keep it up.

The reason for staying active is so important is three-fold:

  1. Every little bit counts. That push-up, those squats, that extra mile walked…they all add up!
  2. Your brain keeps thinking “I am active.” Because it has to work more when you move! Remember, diet is 80% of your success or failure. When you exercise and constantly stay active, you are consistently reminding yourself that you are making healthier decisions, and these should carry over to your eating decisions too. Exercising and eating poorly is kind of like paddling a row-boat with one oar – you’re just spinning in circles. Work both together and dominate!
  3. Exercising can make you smarter and more alert at work. Detailed incredibly well in the book Spark, studies have shown that exercising can increase brain activity and performance. Healthier on the outside, smarter on the inside = NERD FITNESS WIN.

Here are 40 ways to help you stay active during the day (without actually working out).

Prioritizing FITNESS 24/7

Move anyway you can during your night shift.

Remember, it comes down to one thing: taking an active role in your health.

1) Don’t use the job as an excuse, and instead remind yourself that you are in control. You don’t need anybody’s permission to get healthy.

2) It adds up. Every little change. Every meal you switch up. Every minute of exercise.

3) Plan out your day. Spending 5 minutes identifying what you’ll eat and when you’ll work out makes you WAY more likely to actually follow through with it.

Leave a comment and share your story and struggles with the Rebellion. I’d love to hear from you:

Do you work a night shift or have funny hours?

Have you had success and want to share your tips and tricks?

Have a REALLY funky job and need more help (Deathstar operator, daytime student/nighttime superhero)? Post below and I’ll see what I can do.

Let’s get weird with it.

-Steve

PS: Still reading? Want more help?

I’ll again remind you of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.

Here’s how it works: we get to learn your goals, lifestyle, challenges, and situation: Kids? An old injury? Graveyard shift?

No problem!

We’ll then pair you with a coach from Team Nerd Fitness that fits your personality and situation. Click below to find out if we are a good fit for each other.

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner

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Photo source: cross-eyed owl, Torch lighting experiment, red bull, smoothies, chips, catdog



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