How To Get Fit Around The House!
Hate the gym?
We all love the idea of having flat abs, toned thighs and svelte upper arms, but very few of us are as keen on the idea of sweating it out in a gym to earn them. And although intense physical activity works wonders for weight loss, it does not suit everyone, particularly those with a history of injury or a jam-packed schedule.
Well, there's good news for all those exercise-dodgers out there: you can burn calories and get fitter just by increasing the amount of physical activity you do at home. The key to weight loss is just to use up more energy than usual. Household tasks can be surprisingly energetic, and use a range of muscle groups all over the body. That's not to say that extra vacuuming will give you a body like Elle Mcpherson's, but it will help you stay toned and increase your calorie expenditure. Plus, you'll gain a reputation for being a domestic goddess.
So which chores burn calories?
All physical activities, even the low intensity ones, burn calories and contribute to weight loss. Here are some of the more common household tasks, and an idea of how hard they make you work:
Cooking (moderate effort) 110 calories /hour
Dog walking 224 calories / hour
Gardening 328 calories / hour
Housekeeping (moderate effort) 160 calories / hour
Painting / plastering 290 calories / hour
Shovelling snow 430 calories / hour
Sweeping floor 250 calories /hour
Vacuuming 245 calories / hour
Window washing 180 calories / hour
If you're somebody who really doesn't like exercising, it's good to know that by counting housework as a moderate intensity physical activity you are killing two unpopular birds with one stone. It can even be fun if you get yourself in the right frame of mind; so put some loud music on, don the marigolds, and get ready to give the house and garden a good spring clean!
How hard should I be working?
Of course, doing the housework or vacuuming at a snail's pace won't get your blood pumping or burn many calories. You should be working at a pace at which you are breathing slightly harder than normal, but are still able to carry on a conversation. Exercising aerobically in this manner will use up calories from fat, and speed up your metabolism. Doing any of the household tasks listed above, even if it's just for one hour three times a week will make a big contribution to your calorie expenditure and basic levels of fitness.
How can I measure my calorie expenditure?
It's not always easy to remember exactly how many calories a certain activity uses up, or even to work out how many calories you're meant to be using up in the first place. A good way of keeping track of how much you eat and how much exercise you need to do to burn those calories off, is to equate certain foods with a certain amount of exercise:
1 large slice meat pizza = 240 calories = 1 hour vacuuming
1 cup of hot chocolate = 184 calories = 1 hour window washing
1 croissant = 216 calories = 40 minutes gardening
1 bacon sandwich = 260 calories = 45 minutes housework
1 naan bread = 395 calories = 80 minutes painting/plastering
So don't get frustrated if you never have the time or motivation to get to the gym or head out running. Remember that you can make a positive difference to your weight loss programme just by getting active around the house. Even a small increase in your energy expenditure will make a difference to how you look and feel.