Exercising is supposed to be a regular part of your daily health maintenance. That can be a problem if you don’t have the motivation to get your heart pumping; you raise your risk for weight gain, chronic disease, and an earlier death.
You get a workout, but it doesn’t seem like you’re exercising, and you may be more willing to keep doing that activity every day because it’s fun,” says Dawn Rogers, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Considerations: If you’d like to substitute other types of activity for traditional workouts, you’ll have to do some planning. First, choose an activity that gets you moving. “It should be something that increases your heart rate and makes you change positions and move your muscles,” says Rogers. Take gardening, for example: it involves carrying a watering can, walking around the yard, and squatting close to the ground. “That’s similar to weight lifting and squats. You work your leg, buttocks, and core muscles,” says Rogers.
Some activities, such as bowling, are less intense than others, like bicycling. “Less-intense activities may not be enough to trigger weight loss, but they will definitely help you maintain good health,” says Rogers.
Before starting any new vigorous activity, however, Rogers urges you to get the all-clear from your doctor, especially if you have heart disease or any other chronic health condition. People with balance problems or joint pain may need an evaluation by a physical therapist before taking on new activity.
Tips for success: Since you need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, you’ll have to keep track of the time you spend doing nontraditional workouts. Rogers suggests several strategies, such as these:
- Use an activity tracker. Take advantage of a pedometer app on your smartphone, buy a low-cost pedometer or buy a tracker you wear on your wrist or slip into a pocket.
- Set a kitchen timer and do an activity in your house, such as dancing, cleaning, or calisthenics.
- Keep an activity journal. Write down the types of activities you engage in throughout the day and how many minutes you spend doing them. Bring the journal to your doctor if you’d like to share your progress.
- Use a memo board in a prominent spot to record your progress. Seeing the numbers frequently may be a motivator.
“When you can see what you’ve been doing each day, you’ll know if you’re on target. If you haven’t been as active one day, you can add more minutes the next day. It’s especially rewarding and motivating to see your progress,” says Rogers.
Source: Harvard Health