Everybody is well aware of the benefits of exercising. There couldn’t possibly be more data available about why it is important to exercise regularly. However, hitting the gym on the regular or dedicating time for exercise can seem nearly impossible when someone has got an extremely tight schedule and competing priorities. The good news is we probably manage to get in more exercise in our days than we think. When exercise is reformed to view all movement as activity that’s good for the body, it becomes obvious that a lot of the everyday activities already count as exercise.
According to experts, getting the heart rate into the recommended ‘moderate’ heart range doesn’t have to mean a full sweat session at the gym. 50 percent of the target heart rate can be achieved by walking around the grocery store, helping a friend move, or having a mid-day dance party. Every single intentional movement counts.
Some formal workouts intentionally mimic the “primal movement patterns that represent our daily movement patterns for life,” such as squatting, pushing, pulling and twisting. A workout regimen that involves everyday activities rather than formal exercise is also called NEAT exercise, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
The Department of Health and Human Services recently updated their guidelines and it is longer recommend that a person needs to get 10 minutes of physical activity at a time. Rather even small chunks of activity are beneficial, like taking the stairs, walking over to a colleagues desk rather than sending an email, or taking a five-minute stretch break every hour. It is important to focus on activities that provide energy and what make you feel better.
Non-exercise activities are a great way to not only improve your health, but also complete tasks more easily and reduce the risk of injury.
Here are a few daily activities that can be counted as exercise.
Running errands: Even if shopping online is very convenient, shopping in person can provide some very good cardio. Walking up and down the aisle of the market can be counted as exercise very easily. Not just that, but carrying the grocery basket or pushing the cart is also beneficial. Small, inconspicuous things like squatting or bending to get items from the lower shelves, or stretching to get something from the shelves at a height is also great exercise.
Walking the dog: This one is rather self-explanatory. A dog is not just an amazing companion in general, but also a great work-out buddy. Everyone who has a dog is aware that it is important to take them out for a walk so that they can get regular exercise. A simple stroll around the block can be one of the best everyday activities for both mental and physical health. Not only can the walk do your body good, but the fresh air and sunshine can also be a mood-booster not to mention it’s a great opportunity to spend some time bonding with and exercising your pup.
Cleaning the house: Cleaning the house can involve a wide range of physical movements like going up and down stairs, carrying things from room to room, pushing and pulling the mop or broom, dusting in out-of-reach areas, and scrubbing the bathroom tub can all help as much as exercising in a gym. Even ironing, washing dishes, and vacuuming can burn up to 200 calories an hour.
Yard work: Aside from the low impact and cardiovascular benefits, mowing the lawn requires a lot of functional movement primal patterns in the process of set up, mowing the lawn, and clean up. Using a push-mower can help engage the core and quads. Even if an electric or gas mower is being used, one would still need to walk to mow the lawn, which in itself is exercise. Other yard work like gardening, weeding, and shoveling leaves also count as great workout.
Having sex: Sexual activity is also a moderate-intensity workout. Though, of course, it depends on the specific activity, it uses even more energy than weight training. Having sex can be equivalent to a light walk.
Dancing: Going out dancing with friends during a night out, randomly breaking into dance upon listening to your favourite song, or even dancing solo inside your own room- all of these can be counted as exercising. It is not just Zumba classes that are considered to be exercise. Dancing is a great way of getting a full-body workout, and a great cardio as well.
Laughing: ‘Laughter Yoga’ is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides similar physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. One 2014 study found that laughter yoga is a better ab workout than crunches or back lifting exercises. It involves various movement and breathing exercises to promote intentional laughter.
Climbing the stairs: It is common knowledge that one of the “healthy hacks” is taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Parking in the farthest spot from the building and taking the stairs up to the office is a great idea to sneak in some exercise. A few minutes of walking and climbing could burn up to 50 calories — enough to counteract eating a handful of potato chips at lunch!