All you need is 30 minutes of exercise a day (e.g. a walk) to gain significant benefits. It not only helps to prevent heart disease and mild memory loss, it can also improve depression. For those with chronic conditions, it’s one of the best things you can do to increase well being and overall health.
The good news is that you don’t even need to do 30 minutes all at once-10 minutes here and there throughout the day adds up quickly. Even better, keep moving all day. Make “mindless exercise” part of your daily life.
Most of the year, I have no problem walking, gardening, going to the gym, or whatever else. In mid February, it’s a different story.
There are at least two feet of snow on the ground, more is falling and the temps are in the single digits. I came close to breaking a leg walking to the post office this morning. Normally a 5-10 minute walk, it took 15-20 minutes because the sidewalk hadn’t been shoveled. Since my kitchen scraps were long over due for the compost pile, it took another 20 minutes or so to shovel a path to take care of that chore. In short order, I had 40 minutes of fairly vigorous exercise without much thought. That noted, there are those days that the thought of going outside in sub zero temperatures is enough to keep me on the couch with a warm blanket and a good book.
So what do to? As with any exercise program, do what you can, keeping in mind that “pain is no gain.” There are a variety of options listed below. Do what feels right for you. Check with your medical provider before starting an exercise regiment.
• Power Down: Make time in your day when cell phones, computers, TV and other electronic devices are turned off. Without the virtual distraction, you’re more likely to do something.
• Mindless exercise: If you stay active around the house, you are continually burning calories and thereby don’t need to force yourself to go to the gym or take a walk. With due respect to the mindfulness gurus, the "mindless" referred to here is movement that becomes such a part of your day, you don’t have to think about exercising.
One hour of each burns the following calories: shoveling snow (576); mowing the lawn-using a manual or push mower (400); raking leaves (384); Painting (290); Gardening (250); Sweeping/mopping (240); or cooking a meal (150). Fit Day has a list of 30-minute chores- e.g. 30 minutes of car washing burns 143 calories.
• Soup Can Exercises: You don’t need fancy weights to strength train.
- * Kripalu Yoga Break: Need a quick pick me up, take a five minute yoga break with the teachers from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.
• Dancing: Put your favorite music on and dance around the house by yourself or with a partner. There are a lot of free videos for line dancing. If you are a beginner, try Basic Line Dance Steps for Beginners.
• Zumba: The Latin/Dance exercise program will have you moving in no time. Try Latin Dance Fitness-Beginners 1 to see if you like it.
• Remember TaeBo? Check it out to see if it’s something that interests you-Advanced Exercise to Lose Weight
• 5of the Best Exercises You Can Do from Harvard Health Publications