You might not have the time – or money – to get to the gym, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get fit and toned. Rebekah Kendal to the rescue!
Think of chores as exercise ninjas. There you are, just minding your business sweeping the floor when suddenly – wham! – calories burnt. Let’s face it, the thought of hitting the gym after a long day is about as enticing as the thought of hand-to-hand combat with an actual ninja.
But here’s the good news: You don’t have to burn all your calories in one fell swoop. In fact, general practitioner Dr Rosie Carey says that working out in brief spurts could actually be better for you.
‘There are studies that have shown that it’s of more – or at least equal – benefit to do small amounts of exercise throughout the day than be sedentary for 95% of the day and then do intensive exercise for the last five percent.’
Forget the playground: the world is your gym. We chatted to personal trainer Dumi Kuture from Impakt MMA gym about different ways to get your everyday fit on.
In the home
Scrubbing the bathroom
Admittedly, it’s an awful task. But it does make it a lot more appealing when you think that for every half hour, you’ll be burning roughly 96 calories – that’s more than you’ll burn in 10 minutes on a stationary bike!
Dumi’s tip ‘Scrubbing down your tiles will help tone your triceps and biceps. The up-and-down movement will also work your back and abdominals.’
Vacuuming properly can take at least 20 minutes. In that time, you would have burnt about 57 calories.
Dumi’s tip ‘Remember to maintain good posture while carrying out this chore. The lateral movements will tone your arms and abs.’
An hour of ironing will burn roughly 88 calories. You can do it in front of the TV, which beats slouching on the couch to watch your favourite series. Remember to switch arms occasionally so that you don’t only work the muscles in one arm.
Dumi’s tip ‘The lateral movements of ironing are fantastic for your back muscles. The fact that this chore always makes me sleep well should tell you something… It definitely takes a bite
at those fatty deposits! Just remember to stay hydrated.’
In the garden
Mowing the lawn
Did you know that by mowing the lawn with a regular lawnmower for about 20 minutes, you can burn as many as 100 calories? Slap on some sunscreen and catch a tan at the same time.
Dumi’s tip ‘The good old push-and-pull mower provides a great all-round workout. It tones your arms, back and legs. If you could do this every day, you could skip gym altogether. Once again, posture is important. Make sure your back is straight so that you don’t put too much strain on it.’
It’s a task that simply has to be done, but somehow those weeds don’t seem quite as bothersome when you consider an hour of tussling with them will burn a whopping 210 calories. That’s as many as you would burn if you went for a 30-minute run.
Dumi’s tip ‘This chore helps with dexterity, as it strengthens your hands and wrists. The movement as you pull your arms backwards – as if elbowing someone – tones up your deltoids and latissimus dorsi muscles.’
Planting trees and shrubs
It’s not only the pesky tasks that burn calories. Half an hour spent filling your garden with new plants will scorch more than 100 calories. Really, it’s a win-win.
Dumi’s tip ‘It’s all about your arms here. Digging is great for your biceps – and the bigger the tree, the better!’
In the office
Taking the stairs
Climbing a few flights of stairs instead of taking the lift may mean that you’ll need to get to work five minutes earlier, but the five minutes extra you spend climbing those stairs will burn up to 35 calories. Do that four times a day and you can rack up 140 calories burnt just getting to and from the office!
Dumi’s tip ‘The reason you dread taking the stairs is because it’s hard work, but that work burns the calories big time. Stairs are great for building your quads, hamstrings and calves.’
It’s not running, but it beats sitting at your desk. Park at the far end of the parking lot; walk over to chat to colleagues instead of sending emails; and schedule walking meetings or brainstorming sessions. For every 15 minutes of walking you do, you can burn between 20 and 40 calories.
Dumi’s tip ‘Walk the walk… Cardio is king, no matter what kind you do.’
Just because you’re busy typing, it doesn’t mean you can’t also be doing sets of calf raises under your desk. Move your chair far away from your desk and squat or do lunges while you’re on the phone. On average, callisthenics burn 14 calories every five minutes, so if you squeeze 10 sets into your day, you’ll have burnt 140 calories.
Dumi’s tip ‘If you have the space, replace your office chair with a stability ball. It will strengthen your core.’
Here are some good habits for the whole family:
• Get your kids to help out in the house and garden
• Go hiking or for a walk on the beach or up a mountain instead of visiting the mall
• Let your kids take turns picking outdoor activities that you can do as a family
• Give your children toys or presents that encourage physical activities
• Go for a brisk family walk after dinner
• Start a family challenge to see who can be the most active each week.
Calories suggested are estimates, as the amount of calories burnt depends on your body mass index.