Posted on Sep 05, 2023, 5 p.m.
Those of us who are not athletes, don’t have the drive, or are lacking in time can find it difficult to fit in exercise. Even if you are in any of these categories that doesn’t mean that working on your health via fitness is out of the question, in fact, you may be exercising and not even realize it. Many day-to-day activities like vacuuming, walking the dog, cleaning the car, washing windows, chasing after children, organizing your closet, cleaning out the garage, and carrying groceries are helping you to work on your fitness without special equipment and more importantly without spending any money.
Research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of We Are Undefeatable, involving 2,000 participants including 400 with a range of long-term health conditions indicates that the increasingly high cost of living is affecting people’s well-being and physical activity. The findings revealed that 22% feel their moods have been negatively affected by the continued increase in the cost of living, and 33% stay at home more often due to the financial constraints of the extra costs.
68% are interested in finding ways to increase their level of daily physical activity without spending any money. 16% are specifically looking for free ways to stay active because they no longer have extra money in their budget, and 10% say that they can no longer afford to have a healthy diet as they would like. 74% consider some household chores like gardening and yard work as exercising, and among those with health conditions, 77% feel the same way.
Being active does not have to cost anything, boosting your day-to-day routines like cleaning the house can be just as effective for free. Simply upping your step by walking more can really help to improve your health and well-being. However, having health conditions can make it a little more difficult to navigate due to any barriers that may exist that need to be taken into consideration.
“Rest assured that, for most of us, being active is beneficial and especially for many living with long-term conditions, it's simply a matter of finding what activities work best for you and adding more movement into your routine in any way that you can.”
“Boosting your physical activity doesn’t have to come at a cost,” says Duleep Allirajah, CEO of the Richmond Group of Charities and spokesperson for We Are Undefeatable. “If you’re trying to build up your activity levels, moving around your own home is a great way to start. Pacing the room as you take a phone call, doing some seated leg raises whilst watching TV, or doing a few laps of your kitchen while waiting for the kettle to boil, are great habits to get into, particularly for people living with long-term health conditions.”
Starting off your day by making your bed can help to reduce stress, clear your mind, and boost your mood. It is a great way to take a moment to wake up, stretch a little, gently shake things up a little, and get things moving for the day.
Walking while you talk on the phone whether you are at home, work, or outside can really bump up your step counts, without you even realizing that you are doing it. It is pretty simple when you think about it, just get up and move around while you are talking, and soon enough it will become a habit, a healthy habit that helps to improve your overall health and well-being.
Vacuuming, sweeping, and washing the floors while listening to music gives you an opportunity to put a little enjoyable dance bounce into your otherwise boring movements. All that pulling, pushing, and moving your arms around is engaging your shoulders to provide a light whole-body cardio workout. Of course, the more effort you put into the movements to increase the intensity the more benefits these activities provide.
You don’t need to go to the gym or buy expensive equipment to lift weights, carrying those heavy bags of groceries from the shop to your home is weightlifting and cardio exercise. In fact, there are several forms of this combination workout in disguise you may not realize like lugging around those laundry baskets and taking out the trash. If you feel up to it, you could even put a bunch of cans into bags to make some homemade weights, and lifting your kids in a game also counts.
You could be contributing to a whole-body cardio workout while you are in the kitchen making your culinary creations. This exercise in disguise has you using your entire body to lift pots and pans, chopping up various ingredients, stir, mix, stretch for those items in the cupboard, and then clean it all up before putting it all away again. You can add to this by listening to music to dance around while cooking or walking in place to be a more active cook.
Playtime with family pets and children is a fun natural exercise session, and depending on the mood/activity it can engage your entire body. Carrying around or playing with children, and even playing/carrying around the family pet is a fun combination workout that everyone benefits from. Music can come into play here too, most kids enjoy dancing, and they don’t care how well anyone does it, they are only interested in the bonding and fun.
Washing your car is another exercise in disguise, all that reaching while scrubbing and polishing is working your core and arms, while the bending and stretching engages the legs for a full body workout.
Cleaning windows and dusting involves a great deal of bending, reaching, and stretching which activates your upper body and works on your balance. Music can come into play here as well, singing and dancing around helps to make it more fun, and depending on how much effort you put into the movements can really add up toward your daily physical activity levels.
Washing dishes and loading/unloading the dishwasher contribute to a gentle cardio workout as it engages your legs, arms, and core to help tone your muscles. All that lifting, reaching, and bending engages multiple muscle groups across the body. Washing by hand engages the arms and shoulders a little more as you are rinsing, scrubbing, and lifting the dishes from the counter to wash to dry then away into the cupboards.
Gardening and yard work have you squatting, lifting, pulling, reaching, digging, bending, and walking as you tend to your grass and plants. This holistic workout engages your entire body, and being outside provides other benefits like soaking in some sun while filling your lungs with fresh air.
These are just some of the household chores and day-to-day activities that are an exercise in disguise you may not have realized you were doing. Next time you are arranging your closet, painting, or cleaning out the garage you are also exercising, for free, and you can make it more fun by adding music to the mix. Everything you do counts just as much as every step counts.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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T.W. at WHN