Q: I really do want to get into shape, but according to what I hear, I should be exercising every day for an hour. I try to get to the gym and do what I can to be more active, but I work all day and don’t get home until late, and by that time I am exhausted. Any suggestions for someone with a crazy schedule?
A: The first thing I would say is try not to feel defeated. When it comes to exercise, although you might feel as if you are falling short, this may not necessarily be the case. To determine whether you are getting the recommended amount of daily activity, you’ll need to look at all aspects.
Truth is, all movement requires some level of effort, making each one an important contribution to increased strength, stamina and calorie burning. Whether it’s cleaning the house, mowing the grass, washing the car, taking a brisk walk or riding a bike, the cumulative effect of adding more movement to your life will always pay off in terms of health benefits and weight loss.
To give you an idea of how many “out of the gym” calories you may be burning throughout the week, based on a 150 pound person, estimated calorie burn for a half hour of mowing with a push mower is about 220 calories, a self-propelled push mower about 170, and a riding mower 80. Fifteen minutes of raking or sweeping burns 75. Pushing a lawnmower works the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves, while trimming, raking and sweeping are all great for working the arms.
Gardening is another way to burn extra calories. Thirty minutes of leisurely gardening burns 105 calories, more intense gardening that involves digging and weeding burns more than twice that amount. As for household chores, vacuuming for 30 minutes burns about 90 calories, the same amount you’d burn in 15 minutes of kickboxing. Cleaning windows for 30 minutes burns 125 calories, the same number used in 20 minutes of power yoga.
Now, think about how many steps you take during the day. Not sure? Buy a pedometer to figure out where you fall with regard to the recommended 10,000 steps per day. Every step counts toward better health, and walking is an ideal way to lose weight, improve circulation and mood. A 150-pound person burns approximately 150 calories for each 30 minutes of walking at a 3.5 mph pace. By adding just 30 minutes of walking to your day, it’s possible to shed 12 pounds of fat in a year.
Another easy-to-incorporate calorie burner is to take stairs two at a time. This is a great way to speed up the metabolism while firming and toning the legs and rear, along with helping to build stamina and endurance if you don’t have time for a formal cardio workout.
Marjie Gilliam is a personal trainer and fitness consultant. E-mail: marjie(at)ohtrainer.com. This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News.