Going to the gym may not be right for everyone. Fitness can be added to daily life.
A healthy lifestyle could begin with small changes and the mindset that health is a lifetime goal, not just a temporary diet or exercise program. Losing weight can stave off a variety of conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and musculoskeletal problems, to name a few. Weighing less also makes it easier to become more physically active. Incorporating lower calorie and lower fat foods, and increasing plant-based, high-fiber meals, can kick start some weight loss goals. Burning off just 500 more calories per day than what is consumed can net a 1-2 pound (per week) weight loss.1 Exercise also improves metabolism, helps the body get more nutrients, improves waste elimination, and regulates blood sugar.2
Changing Daily Routines
Working off the weight does not have to mean joining a gym or buying an expensive weight loss program or equipment. There are many exercises and stretches that can be done at home or work, and there are small ways to add fitness into daily routines. Exercising in the morning is helpful. Parking far away when shopping or heading to the office, and taking a break to walk during the day can also burn calories. Playing with the kids, cleaning the house, and opting for the stairs instead of the elevator also helps. Watching TV does not have to expand the waistline; commercial breaks are a good time to do sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, jumping jacks, or to grab a soup can or free weights to build up some muscle tone. Another way to fit exercise into the day is to choose an after-work activity that gets the body moving, such as walking or gardening. Waiting for laundry or dinner to finish cooking is another great time to do stretches. If it is too hard to do 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at a time, then “three, ten minute sessions (is) more manageable”. Housework can be exercise too. Keeping the core tight when loading a dishwasher, using many muscle groups to vacuum, mowing the lawn, and cleaning the tub can all be workouts. To make things more challenging, ankle weights might be beneficial. When walking is not enough, short sprints may be a terrific additional form of exercise.3 Just pacing around while talking on the phone, or walking to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending an email, adds up.4 The “one mile rule” is another useful way to get in more walking instead of using up gas in the car: “if your errands are less than one mile away, walk”. Workouts don’t just have to be boring. Dancing during the commercials, jumping rope, or hula hooping can add to the fun of daily fitness. As for eating, colorful fruits and vegetables, getting junk food out of the house, and not finishing the unfinished food off of the children’s plates also makes a difference. Staying hydrated with 3 liters of water (with lemon) each day may aid digestion, create a feeling of fullness, clear the skin, purge toxins, and metabolize fat.5 Calorie-burning accumulates: an hour of sweeping and mopping burns 240 calories, mowing is good for 325 calories, cooking burns 150, shoveling works off 415 calories, painting takes care of 290, and gardening rids 250 calories.6 Car washing burns 143 calories, raking burns 225 calories, and weeding burns 150 calories—all per half hour. Other 30-minute indoor activities could improve fitness, including carrying shopping bags (190 calories), making beds (130 calories), dusting (50 calories), and ironing (70 calories).7