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Archive for June 7th, 2011

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Today we have a guest post from mediashower.com by Katrina Robinson. Tell us what you think, Katrina:

Sometimes, there’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done. That includes exercise. How many times have you had to skip the gym in order to finish up a project at the office, go to a meeting, clean the house, or anything that makes your day seem too short?

But did you know that every little bit of movement you do throughout the day really can add up? Maybe you don’t need to go to the gym after all.

According to a study that was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, any little bit of movement can help in some very small way to keep you in shape. These small bouts of exercise can also be referred to as “incidental physical activity” or “activities of daily living.” Some examples of “activities of daily living” are:

  • Walking to the window
  • Chopping tomatoes for dinner
  • Playing with your hair as you talk
  • Drumming your fingers on the desk

Image from Sheknows.com

Back in the olden days, before practically every person owned a car and drive-thru restaurants were on every corner, people performed many more activities of daily living than we do today.

In order to see if incidental activity could act like aerobic exercise and improve VO2 max, researchers at Ontario’s Queen’s University recruited a group of healthy, yet overweight, men and women who were equipped with an accelerometer, a machine that records every step that the wearer takes and every movement that he or she makes throughout the course of a day. The researchers also determined each volunteer’s VO2 max.

The results weren’t exactly astonishing. It was found that the volunteers averaged about five hours of movement during a typical day, most of which was extremely light activity. Only very rarely did anyone move faster than three miles per hour, and when they did, it was only for a very short period of time.

It’s recommended that a person gets at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day, and not one of the study volunteers met that guideline. So while it seems as though this particular research group didn’t seem to gain much from their incidental activity, that doesn’t mean that you can’t. Here are some tips to help you get some quick exercise in via incidental activity:

  • Fidget—it’s shown that leaner people are more likely to fidget frequently, whereas more obese people aren’t as fidgety

    Image from Austrialian Woman's Weekly

  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
  • Park far away from your office building’s entrance (or any building’s entrance, for that matter)
  • When you visit the grocery store, walk down every aisle
  • Pace or stretch while watching television
  • Stand up and pace while on the telephone instead of sitting

These are just a few things that can help you to get more incidental activity into your day—and help to trim down your waistline, too!

Who is Katherine Robinson and Why Should We Listen to Her?

Katrina Robinson is a freelance writer and editor based in Charleston, South Carolina. She writes about a wide variety of topics including sustainable living, health, and ergonomic chairs.

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