In this article:
- Does crying burn calories? While the question is often asked as a joke, there’s actually research that shows we can burn calories by letting our feelings out.
- Aside from the calories burned by crying, there are also mental health benefits to crying because it triggers our brains into releasing happy chemicals and signals to other people that we need help and support.
- That said, it’s not a lot of calories and you might get better results by trying non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), a category of physical habits that increase your overall physical activity without making you feel like you’re putting in work.
- If you need more effective ways to lose the pounds, there are several activities that you can try using as a relaxing, stress-free workout without doing any real working out (or at least, you’ll have so much fun you won’t notice you’re exercising).
Does crying burn calories?
You’ve probably done it at least once in the past two years what with so much “world ending” stuff happening around us. While crying doesn’t exactly solve your problems, there’s evidence to suggest that it might be helping you lose some of that pandemic weight. Crying is also a great way to release your frustrations and pent-up anxiety, making it good for your mental health.
Admittedly, you can’t expect to shed the pounds just by crying it off so we’ve also put together a list of activities that aren’t exercise to help you burn calories without too much work on your part.
Does Crying Burn Calories? And How Many Calories Does Crying Burn?
So, does crying burn calories? The short answer is yes but it doesn’t burn enough calories to make a significant difference. That likely doesn’t come as a surprise since there aren’t a lot of muscles involved in the physical act of crying.
Crying only burns 1.3 calories per minute so if you cry for an hour, you’re only burning around 60 calories. That’s the caloric equivalent of eating a cup of chopped carrots or a single slice of bacon. Unless you’re on a restrictive diet that keeps you eating below your daily maintenance calories, you can’t expect any noticeable results even if you cry every day.
You may have heard that crying between 7PM and 10PM can help you burn even more calories. While that would be the perfect timeslot for losing weight while scrolling through your ex’s socials, it’s unfortunately just fake news. AsiaOne, the website that originally published the article claiming that you can lose weight by crying between 7PM to 10PM, cited no specific study or author of a study that supported their claim.
Okay, a quick recap. Does crying burn calories? Yes, but not a lot. That said, there are other health benefits to crying.
The Health Benefits of Crying
Aside from the 1.3 calories you lose by crying, you may have noticed that crying makes you feel “lighter” afterward. Some people may describe the post-crying feeling as light and relieving, as if a heavy weight has been taken off their chest. This is because crying provides us with a means of emotional release. We’re one of the few creatures on the planet who express a wide range of emotions via tears. For most of us, crying is for venting emotional frustrations such as sadness, anger, anxiety, and fear.
Our emotional tears carry stress hormones and similar toxins out of the body and make us release oxytocin and endogenous opioids, the brain chemicals that make us feel happy. The cathartic benefits of crying also help us to regulate our emotions and connect with others.
Crying signals to us that we are not, in reality, as okay as we think we are and it tells that to the people around us. As an attachment behavior, crying signals to other people that we need help, making them feel more inclined to give us the support we need or, at least, just a little bit to help us get on with our day.
Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis Is a Neat Way to Burn Calories Without Exercising
If crying isn’t your style, you can try non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). This neat way of burning calories refers to minor activities that burn calories without us realizing that we’re actually doing exercise (in the sense that we’re moving our body).
If you’ve ever looked at a more physically fit friend and wondered why they’re so fit when you know they don’t go to the gym, it’s likely because they do a lot of NEAT activities.
As a general rule of thumb, as long as it’s an activity that increases your overall movement throughout the day, it counts as a non-exercises activity. For example, window shopping in person means that you burn calories while walking between store aisles. House chores, like cleaning and cooking, also burn calories but don’t feel like extra work because they’re already tasks you have to do on a daily basis.
Other neat habits include:
- Fidgeting: If you tap your fingers, bounce your knee, or play with fidget toys, you’re already lowkey working out. These minor activities raise your daily calories burned because fidgeting means you’re never fully stationary (unless you’re asleep, of course).
- Typing: Here’s a NEAT activity most of us already do on a daily basis. Whether it’s on your phone, laptop, or PC, typing also keeps a part of your body moving (your hands) so you’re rarely doing nothing. Remember, the more you do, the more calories are burned throughout your day.
- Carrying Objects: Okay, this is an obvious one since weightlifting is a thing, but you don’t have to hit the gym to lose weight by carrying objects. Just taking items off your shelves, wiping the shelves, and putting all your stuff back already counts. It takes the body more energy to move with additional weight hanging off it.
- Walking: The ultimate non-exercise exercise. Walking is such a great way to improve cardiovascular and mental health if you do it outdoors. Of course, this is easier said than done since not everyone lives in a walkable city or safe and clean countryside. But even just pacing in your house works so try playing music on your phone while you go on a little tour of your house.
As for the health benefits of NEAT activities, Dr. Folusha Oluwajana says that NEAT can help you avoid the risks of obesity since it keeps you relatively active (as opposed to sedentary) no matter where you are and what your lifestyle is life. Incorporating more NEAT activities to your daily routine doesn’t take as much time or effort as carving an hour out of your week for a trip to the gym.
Even if you aren’t overweight, Dr. Oluwajana says you’re still at greater risk of obesity if you have low NEAT activity levels on average since lower NEAT means lower energy expenditure.
Think of it like this. You know how too many “just this one” snacks eventually add up until bam, you’ve gained ten pounds without realizing it? NEAT activities are kind of like that but in reverse.
Other Ways to Burn Calories That Don’t Feel Like Work
Crying and NEAT activities may burn calories, but the results are much slower and more minimal. You can easily destroy days of NEAT and crying with a few Oreos. While that’s true of any exercise routine, the more you exercise, the more you can eat without gaining weight and being at risk of health complications and obesity-related diseases.
So, how do you work out without feeling like you’re working out? Here are some activities that are fun and relaxing to get you moving without making you feel like you’re doing a boring exercise routine.
- Gardening: Or, as the kids call it these days, touching grass. Gardening gets you outside of your house, breathing in fresh air (no, the recycled air in your room filtered through a humidifier doesn’t count), and moving. You can easily spend hours outdoors without realizing it if you start a garden. If you don’t have the space, planting flowers or herbs on your apartment window and watering them every day is enough to get your daily activity levels up.
- Crafting: Maybe fidgeting sounds weird to you because it’s a bunch of little movements that don’t really have tangible results. So, why not try crafting? You could learn how to crochet, embroider, or do woodwork as a way to pass time and burn calories. Plus, think about the mental health benefits of spending an hour away from your phone.
- Hiking: Okay, okay, calm down. Yes, hiking isn’t exactly a low-effort activity but if you’re easily bored of going to the gym and you want to commit to a more active lifestyle, hiking is a more fun way to get your exercise. Fresh air, a beautiful view, and a hiking group can all make working out feel like effortless sightseeing.
- Pilates: Not the hard stuff, of course. We’re talking about pilates for beginners. A good, slow pilates routine for beginners will make you feel like you’ve gotten a massage and a chiropractic spine realignment. Jessica Valant, a licensed physical therapist and pilates practitioner, shares pilates videos on YouTube that can help you get started.
Once you get into the regular habit of moving and being out in the world, you might be surprised to find that it actually feels good. Even then, there’s nothing wrong with just regularly crying your calories off if you can make it a consistent workout routine. After all, consistency is key when it comes to workouts so don’t stress out if you can’t commit to more intense activities.