4 Easy Ways to Increase Physical Activity Around the House

Get Moving - How to Increase Your Physical Activity Around the House

yard work
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This morning I moved rocks for two hours to line 160-feet of fencing to prevent my dogs from digging out of my yard. After about an hour of rock hauling, I decided I would not be doing my normal workout. The repetitive bending, lifting, rolling, pushing and twisting as I carried rocks of all sizes was enough to wear me out.

That got me thinking - there's a lot of day-to-day activity that is, in fact, a workout.

This N.E.A.T. activity (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) can burn major calories and can help contribute to the maintenance or attainment of a healthy body composition. And not all N.E.A.T. activity is as exhausting as hauling rocks - you can actually easily add a fair amount of activity to your life by simply choosing to stand up and move around.

1. Make Time for Yard Work

Gardening, mowing the lawn, trimming trees and laying mulch are all physical activities that can increase heart rate, and in some cases, increase strength while challenging your balance and coordination. Just think about it - those 50-pound bags of soil don't lift, pour or spread themselves!

If you avoid yard work like the plague, or you've enlisted a service to take care of your lawn, try adding just 30 minutes a week to increase your activity. Some calorie counters estimate that just 30 minutes of raking leaves could burn about 160 calories, while lighter yard work like planting flowers could burn about 100 calories.

A little bit here and there can add up.

2. Skip the Automation

How often do you use an automated tool that reduces the amount of effort you have to put into a task? My guess is a lot. Think about it - remote controls make it possible to change the channel without getting up. Microwaves and slow cookers make it possible to cook without standing at the stove.

Dryers make it possible to dry clothes without hanging them on a clothesline. Even gas powered lawn mowers make it easier to mow a lawn than an un-motorized push mower. Sure, automation saves time and energy, but you lose precious activity by opting for automation.

I'm not going to suggest you live off the grid or start cutting your own firewood, but I will suggest you do one manual task each week that you could put on auto-pilot. For instance, if you have a small lawn, go ahead and switch out your gas mower for a non-motorized push mower. Or if you do five loads of laundry every week, take the time to hang one load out to dry. Even making your morning coffee with a French press instead of an automatic drip coffeemaker requires more effort (and trust me, it tastes better, too!).

3. Pick Up the Pace

As in, pace while you do other things. If you talk or text on the phone a lot, make sure you walk while doing so. If you want to watch an extra 30 minutes of TV, give yourself the luxury, but walk around during commercials.

If you find yourself sitting as you wait for a microwaveable meal to cook, pace the kitchen or do a few chores while you wait. Much of the time spent sitting and waiting could be put to use, and whenever you can sub in walking for sitting is time well spent.

4. Turn Chores Into a Workout

My washer and dryer happen to be located right next to my closet, making it possible for me to transfer clothes easily from my dryer to a hanger or a drawer. One way I turn this simple task into a workout is by only allowing myself to put one item away at a time. I'll squat down to pull something out of the dryer, then stand up and put it away, repeating this squat-stand-squat-stand movement about 40 times before I'm done. The amount of time it adds to the task is negligible, but I work a lot harder in the process.

You can turn other chores into workouts this same way. If you have several items that need to be moved from one room to another, move them one at a time. If you're putting away groceries, only carry one bag in from the car at a time. If you're cleaning the kitchen or bathroom, add exercises between each task. For instance, do 10 pushups after you wash the sink, then 10 squats after you clean the mirror.

Make the Commitment

Granted, none of these ideas replaces a full workout (unless you haul rocks for a couple hours like me), but they all help contribute to an overall healthy and active lifestyle. The thing is, health isn't just about hitting the gym or getting rock hard abs, it's about finding ways to decrease sedentary activity and increase positive behaviors to help improve all markers of well-being. That's why it's so important to commit to staying active throughout the day, not just during your workout.

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