We all know how difficult it can be to fit a workout into your crazy everyday routine, but just because you're not going to the gym doesn't mean you still can't be active. There are a number of surprising activities that are actually a good workout, and fitting these types of activities into your day can be more accessible, less daunting, and even more motivating. Exercise doesn't always have to be specific reps at the gym, and you can instead get moving in a number of ways that are less traditional, but still good for you.
"A key factor to overall health is to always be moving," says personal trainer Dan Welden over email. "Many of us have jobs that keeps us strapped to the desk hours on end, kids at home, a significant other that needs our attention, cleaning, cooking — the list goes on. For most, this makes it difficult to fit a workout into your daily routine. To assist with squeezing in fitness into your chaotic schedule, performing exercises while doing our daily tasks is a great way to get exercise into a day that seems to be loaded to the max."
If you want to kick your activity levels up a notch, try incorporating these 10 surprisingly healthy activities into your weekly routine. They may not seem like a lot, but they get your body moving.
"Whether it's at home or a night out, it's a great way to have fun and get an extra burn," says Karena Dawn of Tone It Up over email. Put on some music in your house, or when you're at a bar, grab a friend and hit the dance floor. Dancing is a great form of aerobic exercise, and it can even help improve your balance as well as work your muscles, according to Berkeley Wellness. One study from the American Heart Association found that people who took dance class improved their fitness three times more than non-dancers.
Most people don't enjoy cleaning, but an added bonus of mopping the floors or organizing your desk is that it counts as exercise. "Give it your all when you clean and maybe do an extra set of stairs or add some squats in between doing the dishes," says Katrina Scott, the other half of the Tone It Up duo, over email.
Take some time to giggle with friends, watch a funny YouTube video, or go to a comedy show. "Laughing will increase your energy and work out those abs all while filling your soul with happiness," says Dawn. Laughter involves forceful exhalation of breath from the lungs and a contraction of the diaphragm that works your muscles, according to the New York Times.
4. Grabbing Coffee
"Make your coffee break a walking break too," says Dawn. "Get your legs moving and bump up your heart rate before sipping on your java." Even a brisk 20-minute walk has a number of health benefits, including getting your heart rate up, working your muscles, and even increasing your longevity, according to multiple studies.
5. Grocery Shopping
"Have you ever noticed how much you walk while picking out your food, especially in big grocery stores?" says Scott. Use one of the handheld baskets for even more of an arm workout, and park your car at the back of the lot to increase the amount of steps you tae.
6. Regular Shopping
Like grocery shopping, regular shopping is another efficient way to get moving, especially if you do it for hours (not that we want you to burn a hole in your wallet). "You may not realize it, but walking from rack to rack and floor to floor is great to tone your legs," says Welden.
7. Cooking Dinner
Not only is making your dinner at home healthier because you're using cleaner ingredients, but it also gets you up and moving in the kitchen. "Walking around the kitchen, squatting to retrieve items, stirring and whipping — all of these motions keep the body active and the blood flowing," says Welden.
8. Playing With Pets
"Playing with your pets (or kids if you have them) is great cardio," says Welden. "Go on a run with them and you will not only get to spend quality time with them, but contribute to their health and yours too."
9. Having Sex
Although frequently hitting the sheets shouldn't exactly replace your gym membership, having sex can definitely help you stay active. According to WebMD, sex uses about five calories per minute, and it is also a good way to get in your cardio, as intercourse raises your heart rate, as well as uses various muscles.
10. Playing An Instrument
It's time to make some music: Playing an instrument has effects that extend just beyond creative or mental. According to the University of North Texas, playing the violin burns as many calories per hour as taking a brisk walk. Plus, making music can lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, and reduce stress, according to LiveScience.
Although each of these activities may not be enough for your entire exercise plan for the week, incorporating them into your day can actually make a difference!
Images: Pexels (10); Pixabay (1)