Moderately intense activities, such as walking briskly from your parked car to the mall entrance and taking your dog for a quick jog after dinner, won't help you train for a sport. But they can help you achieve and maintain a healthful weight and improve your overall fitness level.
They can also help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, put you in a better mood, and improve your balance, coordination, and agility.
You have dozens of opportunities each day to increase your activity. Here are 13 ways to help get you started:
Pace when you're talking on the phone instead of staying put. Though this won't burn a lot of calories, getting out of your chair throughout the day can help improve your circulation.
Deliver memos in person. Instead of having your assistant do it, sending them via interoffice mail, or faxing them, consider these excursions exercise breaks.
Go shopping or browsing in your spare time. Shopping is the ultimate easy walking workout. Wear athletic socks and walking shoes.
Paint your house. You'll burn an average of 300 calories an hour and get a good upper-body workout.
Clean your house vigorously. You burn 420 calories an hour cleaning floors, vacuuming carpets, washing windows, and scrubbing tile.
Do your own yard work and gardening. Hoeing burns 360 calories an hour, the same as playing badminton. Cutting your lawn with a push mower burns 420 calories an hour, on par with playing tennis. Trimming trees burns 500 calories an hour, equivalent to swimming the crawl.
Turn lunchtime into an exercise adventure. Don't eat at the company cafeteria or the same old place. Instead, discover new restaurants you can walk to from your workplace.
Carry a basket instead of pushing a cart if you're getting just a few things at the supermarket. Consider it a free weight that keeps getting heavier. But switch the basket from hand to hand periodically to balance the effect on your upper-arm and shoulder muscles.
Park your car in the garage and leave it there if you're going anywhere less than a mile away. Taking the hilliest route possible when you're walking will burn extra calories.
Sign up for a corporate fitness challenge. Whether you walk or run, you'll have fun and feel a sense of accomplishment that can spur you to stay in shape long after the race is over.
Turn off the television one night a week. Without TV programs to distract you, you'll move around more than you would otherwise.
Make exercise a hobby. There's nothing like getting involved in an activity to take the chore out of exercise. Whether it's salsa lessons or learning to play golf, you'll be working out without even knowing it. Dancing can burn as many calories as walking, swimming, or riding a bike. Square dancers covered nearly five miles in one evening, one study found.
Use the stairs. Each flight of stairs you climb burns 10 calories. That doesn't sound like much, but taking 10 flights a day for a year can result in a 10-pound weight loss.