Ah, exercise. After it’s over, it makes every one of us feel accomplished, glowing, successful, and svelte. If only conjuring up the necessary motivation to engage in exercise were as pleasant. Instead, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and dementia are all on the rise across the United States; largely, due to the shocking lack of exercise most people experience every day.
If you know the value of exercise, but you can’t seem to get yourself motivated to really get moving, you may need to take smaller and more covert steps to improve your health. Here are six easy ways you can sneak more exercise into your day that are so below the radar, you may not even realize you exercised until the day is over.
Do you hate how much time your kids spend in front of the television, tablet, laptop, or cell phone? It may be that they just need a valid alternative as a way to spend their time. Why not head to the park for a game of pickup basketball? You can even play a game of tag or hide and go seek in the back yard.
Just a generation ago, playing outside was synonymous with being a child or adolescent. As technology has advanced, we’ve all gotten more sedentary. By engaging your children in activities outside, you’ll all spend more time together and receive the benefits of physical exercise.
While it may sound like a bit of technological mumbo jumbo, researchers have found that the simple act of strapping on a pedometer somehow makes people walk more than people who stay pedometer-less. In fact, pedometers wearers fit in as much as a mile more a day than the pedometer-free — a benefit that adds up to seven miles a week and almost 30 miles a month, and those extra miles add up to all sorts of health improvements from lowered blood pressure to weight loss.
They say a watched pot never boils, so why not take the time in which you’re waiting on the kettle’s whistle to turn your attention elsewhere? Jumping jacks, of all the oddball calisthenics you were implored to endure during PE, are actually a great exercise. Just 10 minutes of jumping jacks can burn 90 calories, and while your tea kettle won’t take that long to sound, if you engage in some jumping jacks during other periods of waiting — television commercial breaks, microwaving leftovers, waiting for the bus, etc. — you’ll actually find yourself amassing quite a calorie output throughout the day.
Do you really have to drive to post office? What about to meet your friends for a happy hour drink at that pub that’s less than half a mile from your office? If you can walk to your errands or meetings, it will not only improve your health and fitness, but you’ll save on gas and cut back on emissions at the same time. All it takes is a slight adjustment in mindset and schedule, and you’ll find that walking your errands is a more pleasant and beneficial way to get them done.
The 21st century is obsessed with efficiency, and while it can save time, it doesn’t help us move our bodies more. In the interest of sneaky exercise, aim for a less efficient existence. Park farther away than you need to, regardless of where you’re headed. Bring groceries in from the car one bag at a time. Avoid elevators and escalators, and whenever possible, avoid shortcuts when you’re on foot or bike. By cutting efficiency from the parts of your life that require physical activity, you’ll get a surprising amount of exercise.
No, doing the dishes won’t give you the arms of an Olympic gymnast, but skipping the dishwasher will allow you to burn a few calories and use some muscles. Labor-saving devices can be great time savers, but they often get in the way of the physical activity our forebears used to get each day by default.
Wash your car by hand instead of taking it to a car wash. Use a push mower instead of a riding mower to keep your lawn tidy. Hang your wet laundry out on the clothesline instead of loading it into the dryer. Wherever you can find a way to use your own physical energy to accomplish a task, do it. It really will keep your body and mind in better shape.
Exercise requires intention, but it doesn’t have to require a gym membership. By making some slight adjustments to your lifestyle and routine, you’ll find that each day can hold a surprising amount of exercise in it, and you’ll barely even notice you’re doing it.