Making Everyday Activities Heart Healthy

Many of your daily activities can become heart healthy exercises if you do them faster or with more intensity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adults should get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines moderate aerobic activity as “anything that makes your heart beat faster.”  Using this logic, many of your daily activities can become heart healthy exercises if you do them faster or with more intensity. 

Regular physical activity isn’t just important for your heart health.  It benefits your social and emotional wellbeing too.  Being active in small ways throughout the day can make a big difference. Short bursts of 10-minute aerobic activity can be beneficial when they add up to at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. To make your everyday activities heart healthy, try these:

  • Gardening. Gardening is thought of as a fairly sedentary activity.  But you can change that.  To turn your gardening chores into exercise, do them vigorously. In the morning and late afternoon (when it’s cooler), take a few 10-minute breaks from working to get outside and do some gardening or even lawn mowing. If you’re weeding a flowerbed, challenge yourself to do it as fast as you can, for as long as you can. Pushing a fully loaded wheelbarrow can also count as aerobic activity, as well as a strength and balance exercise. A study published in the journal HortTechnology found that tasks performed in gardening qualified as moderate-to-high intensity physical activity.
  • Walk the Dog. If you’re used to just letting the dog out in the yard, it’s time to get walking.  You and your pup will benefit. If you don’t have a dog, offer to walk a neighbor’s dog – they are sure to appreciate it!  Many rescue organizations have dog walking programs, as well.  The dogs usually wear a vest saying they are available for adoption and you literally become a walking advertisement for the dog.  It’s a win-win!
  • House Cleaning. The house is not going to clean itself, so why not make it worth the effort by turning it into an aerobic workout?  Try increasing your cleaning speed and throwing in some moves like lunges.  Go up and down the stairs a few more times than necessary.  Instead of cleaning one whole floor, do a downstairs room and then an upstairs room and continue alternating.  If you’re standing at the kitchen or bathroom counter, practice single balance, literally standing on one leg.  It will help increase balance and strength.
  • Shopping. While many of us are staying home as much as possible, most of us still need groceries. Shopping means walking and walking burns calories (up to 120 to 150 per half hour).  Not to mention, increasing your speed means you are in and out of the store more quickly! Want to get more out of your shopping excursion? Park as far away from the store’s entrance as possible to add some distance to the walk and choose the stairs instead of elevators or escalators.  If you can, take the steps two at a time!  Walking up stairs is a form of progressive resistance, as you have to use your body weight and you engage your quads, glutes, calves, and hamstrings.
  • Dance Party! Do you often have soothing music playing in the background?  Change the channel to something with more rhythm and have your own mini dance party!  Just ten minutes of unlocking your inner rock star in the privacy of your own living room will get your heart pumping.  Plus, the music is good for your soul.

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