Exercise Without "Exercising"

Photo by: Ewen & Donabel @ flickr

Today’s article was inspired by a story this morning on NPR’s The Morning Edition which talked about the latest research by Dr. David Neiman, an exercise immunologist at Appalachian State University. According to his study published this month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people who exercised five days a week for twenty minutes each day reported 40% fewer days of being sick.

Now I’m certainly not new to the idea that exercise boosts your immune system, in fact a recent post of mine on Boosting Immunity Naturally talks about this very idea. What struck me about the study was the amount of time spent exercising that was shown to be beneficial. You will often hear me tout the benefits of regular exercise for everything from boosting immunity to balancing moods to better sleep to better brain health. But the fact is, I have just as much trouble as anyone else finding the time to fit it into my life. What with family, a young child, work, chores to do and, oh yeah …  sleep, it’s never as easy as I always say it should be. And let’s face it, when you’re tired you just lack motivation. But twenty minutes? That’s so …. doable.  In fact I do exercise my body for twenty minutes most days (or close to it). The thing is, it isn’t always in a way I consider to be “exercising.” Which made me realize that most of us don’t acknowledge the ways we can (and maybe already do) fit exercise into our lives.

Do you walk the dog? Walk to the grocery store? Push around a young baby or spend hours bouncing a fussy baby? Do you play with your kids? These are all ways we use out bodies. Think about how to use your everyday activities to fit in “real” exercise. Whenever you feasibly can, walk to where you are going. When you do walk, up the pace and if it is a shorter walk, add a few extra minutes. Turn playing with your kids into fitness by taking part in games of tag, chase, soccer or racing. Turn up the music and have a dance party. Challenge them to a jumping jack contest. Jump on the bed! Think it’s not exercise? Tell that to your racing heart and winded lungs. The sound of children’s laughter is just a bonus. Get the baby out for some fresh air with a vigorous stroller walk. No dog? No baby? Take a walk anyway. Sneak off for a walk on your lunch break. Grab your sneakers and go. No time? You’re too busy? Think about it: twenty minutes. I am willing to bet that you spend that much time checking in with Facebook every day. And unless you’re checking in for updates from Life Balance Massage, that simply isn’t as important as moving.

You may find that when you take these small opportunities to add a little fitness into your life you get hooked on the feeling. Maybe you’ll start upping those walks to thirty minutes, then forty. Maybe you’ll turn those walks into hikes up in the hills. Maybe you’ll start jogging instead of walking. Great! The more you do, the better it is for your heart, lungs and muscles. But the point is: start with what fits. You don’t have to spend an hour in the gym sweating it out or nothing at all. Because something, even if you don’t consider it to be “athletic,” is always better than nothing. And now, studies are showing that something actually is really good for you. So stop being so hard on yourself and get moving!

2o-minute beginner’s workout routine by RealAge