Not to sound too much like an overly chipper Glamour article about how many calories you burn while vacuuming the kitchen (as if those 100 calories per hour are doing much for you, unless you’re OCD about crumbs and dust…and tie twenty-pound weights on your wrists to make the experience more challenging), but really, the concept of a workout during the day doesn’t have to fall into the confines of the gym, or even involve wearing a pair of sweat-wicking pants.
Reminded last night during a conversation held over mulled wine about the concept of parking a block away from Arby’s and walking there for dinner every night if that’s your style, or simply leading an active lifestyle that involves “doing” rather than “not doing,” exercise really is everywhere.*
A quick example: moving. You need to move. You certainly could hire people to help you pack and get you out of the old and into the new. However, if you do almost entirely the whole endeavor yourself, you’re not just saving money – you’re strengthening your muscles by lifting dresser drawers, you’re staying active by getting your collection of knee high socks and ironic Nancy Drew books tucked into boxes like hibernating bits of yourself, you’re doing something that requires you not eat.
And that’s the heart of the “exercise really is everywhere” statement. When you are doing something, you’re not doing nothing. Staying busy, joining a community chorus, practicing knitting, putting together model trains, staying an extra hour at work to help a coworker on a project – anything you can occupy your hands, heart and mind – allows you to not take in more calories, and allows you not to not be losing calories on a consistent basis throughout the day.
Every moment you spend moving your body just a little more (yes, I recommend taking 14 flights of stairs if you happen to need to go to the top of a building once a day, but I get that’s not really exciting for most people) is a moment you technically are adding a little exercise into your life.
Naturally, balancing this with calories in is essential to being healthy. If you’re packing boxes, you’re doing light exercise so you don’t actually get to reward yourself with a gooey slice of Neapolitan cake; you’re more on the salad with peas and some ciabatta bread level. The idea that everything we do as exercise gets countered if you’re not considering the nutrition side of things.
So I guess the secret to exercise being everywhere is twofold: take the time to do things yourself, not letting others (people or machines) do it for you and consider what you’ve done when making choices about what to eat for dinner. A choice you have to make actively and that really focuses on changing your lifestyle instead of a short-term solution to staying healthy. Of course. Isn’t everything?
Last word on this subject: Find something you love to do (or just kinda like or are remotely interested in trying) and do it. Experience an active life. You never know…you might like it.
*Yes, I stole this line directly from Love, Actually‘s opening monologue by Hugh Grant.