Any activity you do during the day will burn calories.
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When you're striving to lose weight, your strategy might include counting calories, cutting unhealthy foods and doing some exercise. That's a good basic strategy, but the exercises you're doing on a treadmill or in an exercise class are not the only things to factor in. You should also be factoring in your overall activity level -- including the steps you take.
Steps Do Count
The walking you do throughout the day should definitely factor into your caloric burn for the day. You've probably heard the recommendation to strive for 10,000 steps a day, but even a more moderate goal of 5,000 steps a day would help a 150-pound person burn roughly 155 calories. Wearing a pedometer or using a smartphone app that counts your steps are some of the easiest ways to track the steps you've taken.
Activities of Daily Living
The estimate of the number of calories you've burned for the day should also factor in your general activity level. As you might imagine, the person who spends most of the day at her desk or barely rises from the couch is going to burn far fewer calories than that person who paces around the house while talking on the phone or who works on her feet. These activities are called your Activities of Daily Living, or ADL.
Classifying Your ADL
While it's difficult to estimate an exact number, experts typically classify people's ADL levels into categories that include sedentary, light activity, moderate activity, heavy activity and exceptional activity. In the "sedentary" category, as outlined by the American Cancer Society, people perform only the ADLs and nothing else. In the "light" category, people might walk about 4,000 steps. A moderate level of activity might include a light exercise class such as a yoga three to five times a week. The vigorous category might include running or basketball most days of the week, and the exceptional category includes competitive athletes or people training for a big event like a triathlon.
Using the Information
Once you've tracked your steps, use that information plus your ADL estimate and any other exercise you've done to arrive at an approximate number of calories you've burned for the day. Handy calculators abound online to help you out. You'll also need to calculate your ideal daily caloric intake based on your weight, so you can figure out how many calories you can consume during the days.