You don’t have to go the gym or start training for a 5K to enjoy the benefits of exercise. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that many of the tasks you do each day can help you improve your health, strength and energy level.
“Any time you’re moving around counts,” says Carol Harrison, senior exercise physiology technologist at MD Anderson.
Just 30 minutes of daily moderate physical activity can reduce your risk for cancer and other diseases. And, you can split your 30 minutes of exercise into multiple sessions. If you are pressed for time, turning the tasks you must do anyway into fitness activities can give you big health benefits.
Chores like carrying groceries, cleaning the house or washing the car can burn calories and improve strength when performed certain ways. In addition, you can modify chores you typically do to make them more like a workout. If you’re mowing the lawn, try using a push mower instead of a riding lawn mower. Heading to the store? Try parking farther away and take a longer walk.
“You may see a change in your energy level and ability to do things you normally do with a little more vitality,” Harrison says.
Three ways to make the most of your daily activities
Shopping can be a great way to get some exercise. But just because you spent two hours shopping doesn’t mean you got two hours of exercise. So, it’s important to make sure that you’re really considering the amount of activity involved in each task.
Follow these guidelines to make sure you’re making the most of these everyday activities to get health benefits.
1. Add to what you’re already doing.
Typically, everyone wants to do chores as quickly as possible. But adding in extra steps or taking the long way can count as additional exercise.
Rather than carrying several items upstairs in one trip, make individual trips to burn more calories. Bringing in the groceries? Don’t struggle to carry all the bags in one trip. Carrying them one at a time will help you incorporate more exercise into your day.
If you’re looking to see a physical change, like weight loss, make sure to increase the intensity of the tasks you’re doing. The activity should increase heart rate and breathing. If you’re doing a moderate intensity activity, you should be able to talk, but not sing.
2. Make sure it’s challenging.
You have to challenge yourself if you want to see changes.
If you take the stairs twice a day one week, try taking them four times a day the following week.
“You have to do more than you’re doing now to see a change,” Harrison says.
3. Keep building.
Don’t just stop here. Once you’ve added a little more activity in your day, you can keep adding more and try new exercises.
That walk across the parking lot can become a walk across the neighborhood.
“The more you put out, the more you get back,” Harrison says. “It really is all about moving more.”