Easy Exercise Tips

No stress fitness: Convenient ways to stay in shape

Exercise is important. That’s something I communicate to my patients daily. A major study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published in The Lancet last year found that physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death.

 

But life keeps people so busy that making time for exercise can be a challenge. Even here in the high country, busy schedules may prevent you from exercising as much as you’d like.

 

There are simple ways to be more active without expensive classes or trips to the gym. Fitness apps and online videos are one place to start. On sunny days, amazing hikes are available right in our backyard.

 

If you’re really pressed for time, ordinary household chores can be a great way to get moving. With a little creativity, you can add movement to make these everyday tasks even more beneficial. The goal should be to get to 30 minutes of activity per day – 150 minutes per week – to raise your heart rate.

 

Remember not to overdo it, especially if you’re just getting started. Moderate exercise has been shown to provide the same effects as a more intense activity. A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 30 minutes a day of even gentle activity — including light household chores — helped lower the risk of death in older women.

 

Here are a few simple exercises to combine with everyday tasks. There’s no need to wear workout clothes, but wear nonslip shoes to prevent any unwanted accidents.

 

Do calf raises while washing dishes

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly lift your heels and rise onto your tiptoes, then slowly lower back down.
  • Repeat 12-15 times.
  • Work up to 3 sets.

Benefit: Builds lower leg strength and increases ankle flexibility.

 

Do squats as you empty the dishwasher

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Sit back and down like you’re sitting in an imaginary chair.
  • Keep your knees over your ankles and your weight in your heels.
  • Lower yourself down until your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible.
  • Keep your stomach pulled in as you push through your heels to straighten back up.
  • Start with 3 sets of 10.

Benefit: Builds leg and core strength, burns calories and promotes better balance.

 

Do bicep curls with soup cans when unloading groceries

  • Standing tall with your arms by your sides, hold a soup can in each hand.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body as you slowly curl the cans up toward your shoulders.
  • Slowly lower them back down.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Benefit: Tones the arms and builds stability in the shoulders and back.

 

Try something new when you’re wiping down the counter: counter pushups

  • Face the countertop and place your hands on the edge, about shoulder-width apart.
  • Step your feet back about 2 steps and slightly lift your heels, so your body forms a plank at an angle to the counter.
  • Lower your chest toward the counter while keeping your elbows in.
  • Press your body back to your starting position.
  • Do sets of 3-5 reps, building up to sets of 8-12 reps, and resting in between sets.

Benefits: Strengthens the chest, shoulders and abdominal muscles.

 

Briskly sweep the floor for a cardio burst

  • Grab a broom and put it to work, as quickly as possible, for 1 minute.
  • Sweep at a normal pace for the next 2 minutes.
  • Repeat the 3-minute combination 5 times.

Benefit: Short, intense intervals of cardiovascular exercise help burn calories and increase aerobic capacity.

 

Outside of chores, you can also maximize your downtime. Do lunges or stair climbs during commercial breaks. Or, walk on a treadmill or sit on an exercise ball while watching a TV show. Wear a pedometer or fitness tracker to visually track your fitness progress.

 

No matter what you do, get moving! It can truly improve your health and well-being.

 

 

  • Patricia Dietzgen, D.O., is a family medicine physician practicing at the Kaiser Permanente Frisco medical offices