In a perfect world, most of us would love to hit the gym and workout daily. Unfortunately, life sometimes gets the best of us, and we are too swamped to get in our favorite exercise. However, what we may not realize is that some everyday activities might be able to count as a workout. We all know that running on the treadmill gets our heart rate up and that doing pilates can help build our core, but some of our daily habits might also help us break a sweat and use some of our muscles.
"Using everyday activities is a great way to increase activity level, cardiovascular health, and overall strength," says personal trainer Jeremy Hyatt over email. "The biggest key to success is to set the intention every day and have a plan so you remember to incorporate movement opportunities when they arise."
According to a Gallup poll, only 51.6 percent of Americans report exercising three or more days per week for at least 30 minutes. If you're one of the bunch, you may be able to increase your amount of exercise by participating in some common daily activities.
Not every workout has to include a six mile run or an intense bout of strength training. If you don't have time to go to the gym or your regular yoga class, consider these six everyday activities that can count as a workout.
1. A Walking Commute
"Walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise," says personal trainer Jamie Logie over email. "Walking at a good pace is still a cardiovascular output and also can serve as a stress reliever. At some point everyday, you will be walking, so try and add on some more time and distance while you're doing it." According to Harvard Health, walking just 20 minutes a day can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more.
2. Taking The Stairs
"Everyone knows how tough stairs are, that's why we invented elevators and escalators," says Logie. "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." Ditch the elevator at work, and you'll begin to feel more energetic, boost your immune system, and even lower your risk for major metabolic diseases, according to Livestrong.com.
"Do you notice after scrubbing a floor or the bathtub you find yourself sweating?" says Logie. "Household cleaning can be a decent calorie burner, as you are constantly engaged, and even if things like cleaning windows and running the vacuum seem strenuous, they still keep your heart rate up."
4. Grocery Shopping
"If you keep a good pace going, this can be another good calorie burner," says Logie. "Focus on going for the heaviest items first like bags of potatoes, flour, or milk. Then once that cart gets heavier it becomes part of the activity to push and control it."
"Gardening with weeding, watering, carrying bags of soil, mowing the lawn etc. will definitely burn calories and engage quite a few muscles," says Logie. "You also get out in the fresh air and get exposed to natural sunlight." Research agrees: A study published in the journal HortTechnology found that tasks performed in gardening qualified as moderate-to-high intensity physical activity.
"For home cooks, it can be good because it keeps you on your feet, moving around with your heart rate up," says Logie. "Chopping and using a rolling pin are other nice little activities that also keep your muscles working a bit. It may be minimal but even minimal exercise is better than sitting on a couch!"
The more activities you fit in the day, the more physically active you are, so use that as an excuse to get all your errands done.
Want more women's health coverage? Check out Bustle's new podcast, Honestly Though, which tackles all the questions you're afraid to ask.
Images: Pixabay (7)