Now that new year has officially arrived, it means that many people’s resolutions are under way, and of course, a lot of these include fitness and weight loss goals. I have heard friends, patients and family members speak of their earnest and well-intended notions of starting (or resuming) a fitness program—as well as their concerns about inevitably not following through with it. Well, there is some good news. Traditional exercise may not be the only way to improve your health. In the new government recommendations, everyday activities, like doing the laundry, vacuuming, and cleaning your house, all count as exercise.
Recent research also suggests that all of your exercise is cumulative, meaning that you can reap the same benefits from exercising three times a day for 10 minutes as doing an entire workout in a 30 minute period. U.S. government guidelines say that to lose weight and to keep the weight off, you should accumulate at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, but half an hour a day is all you really need to achieve the health and disease-fighting benefits of exercise.
Some of those benefits include: slowing the progression or helping to prevent heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass, and depression. Exercise also increases brain, sexual, and immune function and allows you to sleep better and have more energy while you are awake.
Of course, in order to enjoy those benefits, you need to be moving! So here are some non-traditional ways to increase your daily activity level without having to rearrange your schedule:
• Park further out in the parking lot
Not only does it increase the number of steps in your day, but it also reduces the frustration and occasional expletives of driving around in circles to find a spot or deal with those drivers far less competent than you.
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator
By time you wait for the elevator and cram yourself in with a dozen people, you could already be on your floor and burn 20 calories by climbing the stairs!! (avg. 10 calorie/min)
• Pay for gas inside
I know it’s cold, but it is a quick way to add an extra minute of walking while getting to greet your friendly convenience store attendant.
• Use a fun-size water bottle
Try keeping a small water bottle at your desk so that you must make several trips to the water fountain to refill it. Just remember that you still need as much water in the winter as you do in the warmer months to ensure that you are adequately hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will also help stave off hunger and force you to make more trips to bathroom, which in turn burns more calories and flushes out more toxins!
• Snow blow the driveway, but shovel the sidewalk
My last article discussed some of the dangers of shoveling, but it is hard to deny the aerobic workout that you get from it as long as you do it properly. 10 minutes of shoveling can really get your blood pumping and get you energized for the day.
• Vacuum more often, change the sheets more often, mop the floor more often
Not only do you get a cleaner house, but you also get a healthier you!
Remember, you should start out at an activity level that is comfortable for you and work your way up gradually. Whatever your starting point, the fact that you're increasing your activity will automatically benefit your health and your life in 2009. For more ideas or answers to any questions you may have, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org  or call 624-5145.