Move It, Move It: 3 Ways to Incorporate (and Upgrade) Daily Physical Activities

Whether you love to be active or find it to be a chore, it is something that we all need to do in order to live our healthiest lives. I could extol the benefits, scare you straight with statistics, or pep talk you into giving exercise the ol' college try. Those are all things I'd love to do another time (minus the scared straight thing--that doesn't work and personally, I think it is super mean!), but today I just want to focus on one teeny, tiny aspect of "exercise". 

I love a boutique workout as much as the next gal or guy, enjoy long walks on the beach, and chaturanga with the rest of the Wunder Under-wearing bunch, but exercise isn't really about any of those things. Some days, exercise or working out simply comes in the form of physical activity.

What's the difference? Well, exercise and working out are physical activities that are typically planned in advance, but physical activity simply sneaks its way into our days whether we like it or not in the form of regular tasks. There are easy and unconventional ways to get your steps in, burn calories, or, if you live with diabetes, lower your post-meal numbers, that can be found in daily tasks. So whether you like to "move it, move it,"

'Madagascar' DreamWorks Animation (2005)

'Madagascar' DreamWorks Animation (2005)


or drag your feet every step of the way, embracing the more active tasks on your to-do list can benefit you, especially if you add on a twist. I've got some ideas for you, picked fresh from my actual routine.

Feel free to laugh when you think about what some of these must look like being done...but only if you are willing to give it a try yourself!

1. Park your car further away from the entrance to your building, store, etc. 

This is an easy one that you've probably heard before, but it sticks for a reason: it is super achievable on a daily basis. Depending on what you are up to on any given day, you can vary how long the distance is between your parking space and the entrance. If you live in Southern California or another packed metro area, you might be doing this out of necessity from parking scarcity rather than by choice, so put it to work for you!

Want to step it up? If you are carrying bags, take this opportunity to bicep curl with your goodies as weights or throw in a few lunges on your way to the car. Don't worry, nobody's looking. 

2. Press your laundry basket on your way from the bedroom to the laundry room. 

I brought this up in a training workshop recently amongst other health professionals, and a gentleman looked at me incredulously in response, asking if I actually do that. Yes, sir, I do actually do that (and I recommend that you give it a try, too!). You have to do laundry, so you might as well get some burn out of it. With a light but firm grip on the handles on either end, while assuming a proper posture, I elevate the evenly distributed weight in the basket from my stomach, up to my chest/shoulders, above my head, and then back down. 

Want to step it up? Those bottles of laundry detergent are the perfect size to use as hand weights, plus they usually have built-in handles. If you are just starting out, wait until you've made it through about half of the detergent and go from there. You can also use an empty bottle and fill it with water or sand to the desired weight/volume if you aren't sure you want to invest in a set of hand weights yet. 

3. Let loose and show off your moves while the music is on and you're working on another task.

Many of us listen to music while we cook, clean, or get ready in the morning. The music is already on, so you might as well let loose and dance. Toe-tapping, shoulder shimmying, and the seated shuffle are likely to come out without much conscious thought, so exaggerating some movement to burn a few extra calories isn't going to take too much extra effort.

Want to step it up? Pick your favorite line dance or cardio dance routine and give yourself a couple minutes to shake it out while no one is around (or do it with a friend for twice the fun). I have been known to put on Kenny Loggins and get "Footloose" when there's no gym to be found and I need to get moving. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I would love to know what else you do to kick up your normal activities when you are trying to squeeze in some extra activity. Squats while you brush your teeth? Any barre ladies tucking and pulsing while they drive? Share in the comments! 

Just for fun...

*Remember, you should always consult with your physician before starting any exercise routine. Information provided here is for entertainment and educational purposes, but does not substitute advice from a medical doctor.