How Everyday Activities Can Help Maintain A Healthy And Active Lifestyle At Home

Staying healthy and getting exercise can be as simple as performing your daily house chores with a little bit of flare. 

Embed from Getty Images

Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis is an expert in physical activity working at the University of Sydney, who recently spoke with the media about how living an active and healthy lifestyle is much easier than the average person would think. “Incidental exercise can be just as beneficial as traditional exercise, and much easier to incorporate into your daily routine.”

“Incidental exercise is any activity that is part of daily living, rather than something that is done specifically for the purpose of fitness, health, or entertainment,” explained Stamatakis. Things like climbing up and down the stairs everyday, walking your dog, and scrubbing the floors all are giving you an indirect work out while you complete your daily tasks. Shelly Davies is a personal trainer who’s worked extra hard throughout the past year to give her clients at home the tools they need to remain healthy and active.

“You can start your ‘workout’ from the moment you wake up and stretch. I recommend for people in the morning before they get out of bed to stretch and do a glute bridge. To perform a glute bridge, lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor or bed and lift your knees, hips and shoulders off the floor, while squeezing the muscles in your bum.” Davies typically works with clients over the age of 60, and claims that these simple everyday exercises are what keep older individuals so spry and active; this is especially important now that we’ve all been stuck at home for the past year. 

“You’d be surprised by how much energy you burn off doing household chores. Simple things like spring-cleaning is a great way to get active. Plus, getting up and moving around can help alleviate chronic pain.”

Nicole Booth is also a personal trainer and lecturer at Lancaster University. Her biggest piece of advice for her clients is to “think like a cat” when it comes to stretching and working out their bodies. 

“People forget it’s important to stretch every day, too. Animals instinctively do this when they wake, but as humans we have forgotten or pushed this to one side. A minute of stretching to prevent tightness can help us focus how we are feeling physically and plan out our day. It doesn’t have to be a yoga sequence or specific format.”

Stretching daily can also prevent future health issues from arising due to the fact that you’re working out every part of your body when you stretch, and if you do it consistently your body will remain more relaxed naturally throughout the day. It’s important to also listen to your body when it comes to performing household chores and exercises. Never push yourself beyond your limit, after all, the point of intermediate exercise is for it to be incorporated into your everyday routine. 

Embed from Getty Images

“Not all physical activity is the same, intensity is important, but also different for every individual.”

Embed from Getty Images

“A gentle stroll to the corner shop will not do much long-term for your fitness; however, if you decide you’re going to walk there as fast as possible, then you’re racking up your high-intensity incidental exercise quota. Try to get out of breath for a few minutes, then go back to a normal walking place,” says Stamatakis.

Stamatakis also recommends replacing car trips with walking and cycling whenever possible. Most individuals are able to cycle for one to two miles regardless of their health, so consider doing that the next time you need to run to the store.  “Stairs will often take less time than using lifts and it’s fantastic high intensity exercise that can cause measurable improvements in the cardiorespiratory system for most people. Plus, stairs are more Covid-friendly; who wants to be in an enclosed space with strangers?” Stamatakis explained. 

Davies also encourages her older clients to incorporate simple exercises into their daily self-care routines. “If you’re brushing your teeth in the evening, why not do some squats while you’re at it? Make sure you squeeze your bum when you do stand up. Even when waiting for a kettle to boil, I encourage my older clients to work on their balance by standing on one leg for 30 seconds at a time while waiting for a kettle to boil, you’re strengthening your core.”

Remember, everyone is different, so don’t ever feel pressured by others to be working harder to achieve some greater goal. The only thing you should be focused on is moving your body everyday and getting your blood flowing, even if that does just mean taking out the trash and watering your vegetable garden.