You don’t have to head to the gym to burn calories. It is worth bearing in mind that all sorts of day to day activities can have a surprisingly decent calorie burn.

For instance did you know that you burn calories while you sleep? Up to 400 of them depending on how much you toss and turn in bed. Here is our selection of unexpected calorie burning activities, although do bear in mind that the exact number of calories you burn doing these activities will depend on your height, weight and enthusiasm during the task.

1. Gardening

This is a bonus for the green-fingered among you. Apparently a 3-hour session in the garden is the equivalent of an hour of frantic exercise in the gym. According to researchers, gardeners who spend 5 hours a week doing everything in the garden from mowing the lawn, weeding, trimming hedges and planting petunias, can burn up to 19,000 calories a year. So that boils down to anything from 150 calories an hour to 400 as well as oodles of fresh air. Go on, get those gardening gloves on. You know you want to.

2. Dog walking

A regular stroll in the country with man and woman’s best friend is a sure fire winner in the calorie burning stakes. Of course it depends on how far and how fast you walk, but if you and Tiddles like to head out into the countryside for an hour or so, you will be during your cardiovascular fitness the power of good and burning off around 200 calories. And again, all that fresh air and companionship is just good for the soul.

3. Housework

Cleaning the house is another terrific way of maintaining your flexibility and fitness levels. Think about all the bending and stretching you need to do in order to clean floors, vacuum carpets, polish furniture and dust picture frames. If you throw washing and ironing into the equation it’s a great upper and lower body workout and you’ll burn more calories with the more effort you put into all of it.

A handy tip is to use wax rather than polish when you clean, so that you need to rub the surfaces more vigorously. And another good idea is to leave the cleaning products downstairs so that you have to run up and down the stairs repeatedly every time you need another item. Upwards of 300 calories could be burnt off if you really put your back into it.

4. Dancing the night away

A lot of people tend to overlook the fact that a good night out with plenty of boogying in a nightclub or a pub can burn a load of calories and it’s really good for your aerobic fitness. Depending on your height and weight, you could burn up to 500 calories an hour if you’re dancing your socks off to fast-paced music. If it’s a slow smooch to Lionel Ritchie that you prefer, well you probably won’t burn off quite as many calories.

5. Car washing

You could make a serious dent in your calorie intake by washing the car. If you make sure you do a proper job, cleaning both inside and out, it will probably take you at least two hours and that could account for around 500 calories, depending on how vigorously you attack it. Plus you could challenge yourself and extend the time spent on your beloved wheels, by waxing the car all over.

6. Shopping

Anyone who’s hit the shops at Christmas or during the sales will have complained bitterly of sore feet and aching legs after a day of wandering around the stores and with good reason. You can lock up thousands of steps around the shops if you’re out and about all day. Pop on a pedometer or other tracking device the next time you go shopping and see how far you walk. And don’t forget that walking around for a long time with a growing number of bags will add to the calories you could burn.

7. Watching TV

It might sound a little crazy but even when you’re chilling out and relaxing, you’re burning calories. An hour spent in front of the TV watching your favourite TV show could account for around 60-70. Of course if it’s sport you’re watching and it’s a particularly tense match, jumping up and down will be even better for you, although perhaps not so good for your nerves or your heart!