Staying Active: As Good as Exercise?

Staying Active: As Good as Exercise?

Moderate activity – like walking the dog or cleaning the house – can be just as beneficial as lifting weights. Find out how performing everyday activities can protect your health.

You’ve had your physical exam and you’ve passed with flying colors. You’re eating right, your blood pressure is on target, your weight is just where you want it and your cholesterol is perfect. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself – except for one thing. Your doctor has cautioned you that you need to exercise.

You know there are numerous health benefits to be gained from even moderate exercise. It reduces your risks for many diseases, among them diabetes, coronary artery disease, osteoporosis and cancer. It also helps you lose – and keep off – weight.

Avoiding the gym

Just the thought of joining a gym and working up a sweat may make you long for your couch and remote control. Exercise means grueling workouts, and workouts mean pain, right?

Wrong. The truth is exercise doesn’t have to hurt to be beneficial. It doesn’t even have to be uncomfortable. Don’t even think of it as “exercise.” Think of it as activity. Take your downtime, turn it into productive time, and you’ll find you’re more energetic because of it.

Increase your activity

You don’t need to do a day’s exercise all at once – you can break it down into smaller sessions. To start, instead of taking a 30-minute walk three times a week, take three 10-minute walks those three days. Build up to a point where you can walk for 45 minutes a day, five days a week. Your long-term goal should be to engage in at least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week. Of course, before beginning any type of exercise program, you should talk to your doctor first.

One of the reasons so many people don’t continue exercising is because they can’t keep up with the intense programs they’ve imposed upon themselves. Choose activities that don’t scare you off, and then increase your activity level gradually, never straying too far from your comfort zone. Either way, it’s important to be regularly active.

Getting started

Here are some easy ways to increase your activity:

  • Play ball with your kids.
  • Clean the garage.
  • Start walking the dog.
  • Walk during your lunch break.
  • Walk through the mall.
  • Plan zoo or hiking trips.
  • Work around the house. Paint or do repair work.
  • Park far from the store or office and walk the extra distance.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Do gardening or yard work.

Examples of moderate-intensity activity

If lifting weights or aerobics classes aren’t for you, there are many options. Below is a list of sample activities. Each activity is followed by a performance time and the number of calories burned in that time frame by someone weighing 150 pounds.

  • Washing and waxing the car for 45-60 minutes: 255 calories.
  • Washing windows or floors for 45-60 minutes: 255 calories.
  • Playing volleyball for 45-60 minutes: 325 calories.
  • Playing touch football for 30-45 minutes: 340 calories.
  • Playing basketball for 20-30 minutes: 340 calories.
  • Doing yard work or gardening for 30-45 minutes: 205 calories.
  • Walking for 35 minutes: 120 calories.
  • Riding a bicycle for 30 minutes: 220 calories.
  • Dancing for 30 minutes: 171 calories.
  • Pushing a stroller for 30 minutes: 150 calories.
  • Raking leaves for 30 minutes: 171 calories.

Remember that the performance times above are goals, but that you should start out wherever you feel comfortable and work your way up gradually. Whatever your starting point, just the fact that you’re increasing your activity will automatically benefit your health.

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