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 exercise if you do them faster or with more intensity.
Regular physical activity isn’t just important for your physical health. It benefits your social and emotional health too. Being active in small ways throughout the day can make a big difference. Short bursts of 10 minutes can be beneficial when they add up to 30 minutes on most days of the week. To turn your everyday activities into exercise, try these:
Play with the grandkids (or dog). When it comes to physical activity, children are a lot like adults – they need a lot of it and studies show they’re not getting enough. So when you play with your grandchildren, it’s a win-win situation. Tag, kickball, jump rope, hide and seek, hopscotch and even walking or bicycling together are all great ideas. No kids nearby? Try a pup. Taking a brisk walk, or playing outside with your dog is another great way to get in some exercise time. If you don’t have a dog, offer to walk a neighbor’s dog – they are sure to appreciate it!
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 or watching TV 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.
Clean the house. It’s 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. Whether you’re shopping for groceries or a new outfit, shopping means walking, and walking burns calories (up to 120 to 150 per half hour). 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.