Hitting the gym on the regular can seem nearly impossible when you've got all these competing priorities. The good news is you're probably getting in more exercise than you think. I know, I know — you're probably thinking that's totally impossible. But hear me out. When you re-frame exercise to view all movement as activity that's good for your body, you realize that a lot of the things you do every day already count as exercise.
"Getting your heart rate into the recommended 'moderate' heart range doesn't have to mean a full sweat session at the gym," Kate Browne, group fitness instructor and VP of communications for the Body Positive Fitness Alliance, tells Bustle. "You can hit 50 percent of your target heart rate by walking around the grocery store, helping a friend move, or having a mid-day dance party. But all intentional movement counts. Instead trying to figure out how 10 minutes of vacuuming equals in treadmill time, give yourself credit for making the effort to make movement part of your everyday life."
The Department of Health and Human Services recently updated their guidelines and no longer recommend you need to get 10 minutes of physical activity at a time, Bradly Prigge, wellness exercise specialist for Mayo Clinic, tells Bustle. Prigge says these new guidelines mean that "even small chunks of activity are beneficial, like taking the stairs, walking over to a colleagues desk rather than sending an email, or taking a five-minute stretch break every hour." Prigge tells Bustle the important thing is to focus on what provides you energy and what makes you feel better.
So if you haven't made it to the gym in awhile; don't worry. These are 11 activities you probably do on the regular, and they totally count as exercise.
1. Going Grocery Shopping
Whether you're carrying a basket of items or pushing a cart, Livestrong says grocery shopping is exercise. If you want to work in a little more exercise while doing your weekly shopping, Livestrong recommends doing some deep-knee squats when selecting items off those lower shelves. Just remember to engage your core, Livestrong says, and be careful when rotating and lifting so you don't injure your back.
2. Playing Video Games
Nowadays there are tons of video games that promote light to vigorous activity, according to Kerry Stewart, professor of Medicine and director, clinical, and research exercise physiology of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Wii Fit Plus offers light activities, says Stewart, like balance and yoga, as well as moderate activities, like aerobics and resistance training. More intense options, like the new Fitness Boxing for Nintendo Switch, provide a more vigorous workout.
3. Going Out Dancing
You don't have to go to a Zumba class to reap the benefits of dancing (although, if you love Zumba, werk it). Lyuda Bouzinova, an ACE-certified fitness nutrition specialist, personal trainer, and co-founder of Mission Lean, told Elite Daily, "If you enjoy dance, then go out dancing or take a dance class." Who really needs an excuse to have a night out dancing?
4. Mopping The Floor
I can totally vouch for this one because I get breathless and sweaty whenever I mop my kitchen floor. I mean, I really dig into those kitchen tiles. Livestrong recommends to get a workout while cleaning your house, turn up some tunes, do some stretches beforehand, and start with some easy circle action before hitting the rapid-fire mopping. This is totally how I mop — tunes and all — and I'm glad to hear there are others who get into mopping just as much as I do.
5. Having Sex
Depending on how vigorous your sesh is, having sex can be equivalent to a light walk, according to Stewart. So climbing between the sheets (or wherever your prefer to do the deed) is most definitely something you can log as exercise.
6. Mowing The Lawn
It goes without saying that this only counts with a push mower. Livestrong says you'll get a workout with a push mower if you engage your core and your quads. And even if you're using an electric or gas mower, you're still getting a walk in, and that's super good for your health.
7. Doing The Laundry
Doing the laundry is a light activity that can add up to the equivalent of doing light resistance training, according to Stewart. You're hauling loads of wet towels or clothes from the washer to the dryer, which can sometimes get pretty heavy. Then you've got to get large loads from room to room, working your muscles and your cardiovascular system. Sounds like a pretty good workout to me.
8. Tending Your Garden
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says gardening is a great way to get physical activity. Think about it; look at all that squatting and bending you do while weeding, pruning, and watering your plants. Not to mention lifting watering cans, hauling clippings, and shoveling dirt. The CDC says to listen to your body while gardening and to monitor your heart rate, level of fatigue, and physical discomfort to ensure you don't experience any injuries.
9. Shoveling Snow
If you live anywhere that gets any amount of snow, you know that snow can get super heavy. So it should come as no surprise that shoveling snow counts as a vigorous activity, according to Stewart. In fact, shoveling snow is a common trigger for heart attacks, according to Harvard Health, so make sure you listen to your body the next time you're clearing snow off your sidewalk or front porch.
10. Raking The Lawn
Raking up all those leaves might seem like an annoying annual task, but Livestrong says raking leaves is good exercise, too. But if you're feeling like adding a little more of a workout, Livestrong recommends trying to hold a wide squat while you rake. It might look silly, but your lower body and abs will get a great workout.
11. Playing An Instrument
Playing an instrument can be pretty challenging — and not just because you're learning a new skill. Stewart says you're exerting energy depending on what kind of instrument and whether you're sitting, standing, walking, or dancing. Anyone in a band will probably tell you they get quite a workout whenever they perform, so add that to your list of non-gym-related activities.
Exercise is all about movement, and you're moving every day in all sorts of ways. Whether that's heading to work, cleaning your house, or hanging out with friends, your body is on the go, and it's getting in so much more exercise than you even realize.