Doctors all over the world have been advocating the benefits of physical exercise for their patients for decades now. As the obesity rate continues to climb and more people struggle to find effective weight loss measures, doctors and medical practitioners are more determined than ever to find ways to get people to increase their physical activity levels.
Unfortunately, the whole idea of a formal work out at the gym makes many people cringe with distaste. The notion of purposely exercising until you’re all red-faced and sweaty is enough to deter people from even starting an exercise program.
Most people also struggle to find time in a hectic lifestyle to fit in a one-hour aerobics class at the gym a couple times a week. Yet a few minutes of incidental exercise done in small bouts throughout each day could offer the exact same benefits overall.
Incidental Activity vs. Working out At the Gym
Research published online by the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that incidental physical activity throughout each day could be just as beneficial for health as a planned workout at the gym.
Many doctors and medical practitioners recommend their patients get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Aside from making it easier to maintain a healthy weight, a moderate amount of physical activity can also improve heart health.
Instead of trying to plan a formal 30 minute workout, it may be possible to achieve the same results with smaller bursts of activity spread out through the day. You may spend ten minutes pulling weeds out of the garden and another ten minutes sweeping the floor. Add another five minutes of walking through the mall and five minutes to unpack groceries from the car and you’ve reached your 30 minutes of daily physical activity.
Researchers found that people who maintained an active lifestyle that included regular non-exercise physical activity (NEPA) had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The same research also found that people who did a regular amount of daily incidental exercise were also more likely to maintain a healthy weight and have less chance of developing metabolic syndrome.
What Is Incidental Exercise?
Incidental exercise is the term given to any physical activity that isn’t part of a planned workout. Walking around in the mall or even pushing a grocery cart around the store all contribute to your daily activity levels. Simple chores around the house count as incidental exercise too, such as sweeping or mopping floors, vacuuming rugs, washing the car with a bucket and sponge, pulling weeds out of the garden and even hanging laundry.
Park the car away from the mall doorway and walk an extra minute across the car park. You’ll find it easier to get a park and you’re getting a bit of extra activity. Switch on your favorite tunes and dance around the house for a few minutes. No one’s watching anyway, so why not have a bit of fun? Even sitting in a boat enjoying a bit of fishing can burn more calories than if you sat on the sofa and watched TV.
Of course, many people have become increasingly sedentary as modern technology allows us to complete more tasks with a push of a button. Many jobs now require people to sit in front of a computer during working hours, before getting into the car to drive home and sit in front of the TV.
The whole point of incidental exercise is to look for ways to get your body moving. Even a small increase in the amount of activity you get throughout the day can have a positive effect on weight loss efforts. You’ll be helping to increase your fitness levels a little more and you’ll boost your cardiovascular health at the same time.