DAYTON, Ohio — Hate the thought of going to the gym?
Most experts agree that for good health, adults should strive for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise nearly every day, and more if you are overweight. Luckily, this amount can be accomplished in simple ways and in small increments. Whatever daily tasks need to be performed, there are ways to burn a greater number of calories while completing each one.
Yard work burns a large number of calories, for example, but only when performed without use of all the convenience gadgets. Substitute a rake for the leaf blower, try using a push mower rather than a rider. When possible, think about going back to the old-fashioned way of doing things, even if just once in a while.
Everyday chores around the house can burn a significant number of calories. Washing windows, mopping, sweeping, dusting, and making beds all count toward fulfilling daily exercise requirements. In just 30 minutes, scrubbing the floor burns 129 calories, sweeping 112, dusting 85, washing windows 102 and vacuuming 119, based on a 135-pound person. The higher the body weight the greater the number of calories burned per minute.
What if you’re stuck behind a desk all day? Unfortunately for many people, the workplace reinforces a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for hours on end noticeably increases sluggishness and fatigue, hardly inspiring a trip to the gym. Lack of activity also tends to increase calorie consumption throughout the day (think candy dish on the desk, vending machines, office parties, fast food lunches) which are a normal part of most work environments.
Step 1, be accountable. Bring a calendar to work, and position it so that it is visible from your desk. Make a quick note each day that you have been successful at being more active. On days when you are unable to adhere to your plan, make a note of why, and then honestly assess whether it is a valid reason or an excuse. Even if you have a desk job, you can take advantage of breaks to get up and stretch.
Strengthen leg muscles by doing a few simple squats, getting up from your chair and sitting down again without using the armrests. To strengthen the midsection, sitting toward the front of your chair, lean back, keeping both feet on the floor until you feel your abs tighten, pause for a few seconds and return to an upright position.
To strengthen the upper body, hold onto the armrests of your chair and try pushing yourself up with little to no use of your legs. Push-ups can be performed standing, using a wall, desk or other sturdy surface. For working the back of the thighs, sit toward the very front of the chair and one leg at a time, bring the lower leg backward until you feel the muscles tighten, as if trying to touch the heel to the rear end. Hold for a count of 10 seconds and repeat, aiming for 10 repetitions per leg. Then, with feet side by side and a right angle at the knees, raise the heels from the floor until you feel the calf muscles contracting, and hold for a count of 5, and repeat.
Walking is one of the easiest ways to speed the metabolism and burn extra calories. When at work, use break times to get out and take mini-walks. Three 10-minute walks during the day are manageable for most people, even with demanding schedules. For a 155-pound person, 30 minutes of brisk walking burns an average of 150 calories.
If you are already a walker, try not to get stuck doing the same route, same number of minutes, same pace or same number of days per week. The body adjusts quickly to walking because it is a natural activity. In order to increase fitness, strength and relieve potential boredom, try taking a different route next time you head out, or increase duration, speed or frequency.
Take the stairs every chance you get. We all know that taking the stairs instead of using an escalator or elevator increases calorie expenditure, but you can also get nearly twice the calorie burn by taking steps two at a time as you climb instead of single steps.