Are you an exercise avoider? Do you drag your heels when it’s time to get moving? Well, sometimes it's the little things that count.
You don't always have to sweat it out in the gym to make a difference to your daily energy balance, although it does help. Simply enjoying a spot of gardening, doing the housework with vigour and gusto, completing a virtual game of sport on the computer or even something as simple as toe tapping, can all help your calorie burn add up.
Whether you want to lose weight or just lead a more active, healthy lifestyle, we’ve got ways that you can exercise and hardly know you’re doing it...
Watch and win
Almost all of us watch some TV each day and it is the perfect opportunity to get moving. While you watch TV, go for it on an exercise bike, walk on a treadmill, bounce on a mini-trampoline or try to keep your balance as you sit on an exercise ball.
Even if you only commit to working out during the commercial breaks – for example, by doing sit-ups, some weights or pacing the hallway while the ads are on – you can clock up a decent 15 or more minutes of exercise during each hour of TV.
Be inefficient – seriously!
Need to go upstairs for a few things? Break your trip into two even if you can do it in one. This really can make a difference to your activity levels. Other ways to be inefficient include:
- Taking the stairs instead of the lift or elevator
- Walking to talk to colleagues rather than emailing or phoning them
- Getting up for water a glass at a time instead of keeping a big jug or bottle nearby
- Taking laundry from the washing machine to the clothes line a armful at a time
Be a fidget
Fidgets burn more calories through NEAT
(Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) and experts suggest that little movements throughout the day really add up. Things such as foot tapping, nodding, standing or pacing for appointments could burn around 200 calories each day.
Exercise your green thumb
Spring is a gorgeous time to be outdoors and there’s no better way to burn calories and beautify your home than working in the garden. Digging, potting plants and shovelling soil are all great strength builders; while mowing and raking leaves can get your heart rate up if you do it vigorously enough. And with the weather warming up, get a head-start on fire prevention by clearing out your gutters.
Try virtual activity
Play a computer game such as Nintendo Wii or Playstation iToy. Although research has shown that these games don’t burn as many calories as their real-world equivalents, virtual dancing, boxing, tennis, skiing and golf are fun ways to get moving and they sure beat doing an impression of a couch potato in front of the TV!
Plug in your iPod
Research suggests that if you listen to fast music, you tend to move faster, too. So, plug in and get moving whether you’re in the home, on the beach, in town or heading to or from work. Listen to your favourite fast tunes and dance as you cook, do the dishes, dust and tackle the housework – you might find it’s the first time that you ever really enjoy those repetitive daily tasks!
Make family fun a fat burner
With the weather turning warmer, now is the perfect time to get out and about with the family. Rather than staying home and watching DVDs, try some new activities such as rock climbing, skating, swimming, flying kites, bush walking, bike riding, digging in the garden or just generally mucking about.
Build muscle, boost your metabolism
While it’s great to sneak physical activity into everyday activities, there’s one important reason not to avoid planned exercise altogether: exercise builds muscle and muscle boosts your metabolism, burning more energy than fat.
For example, Jeff Kotterman, director of the US National Association of Sports Nutrition says Olympic swim star Michael Phelps burns more calories sitting at a desk than many of us burn while we walk; the remarkable Mr Phelps demolishes around 1,000 calories per hour during swim training compared with something like vigorous walking which burns up to 240 calories. And, the moral of this Michael Phelps story? By exercising and increasing your muscle mass, you’ll burn more energy while at rest, which can help to get you to your goal weight sooner.
So go on, get moving!