Are you too busy to hit the gym most days? Don’t beat yourself up over it. What most people don’t realize is that the common activities they do can have similar health benefits. The following are some of the things you do every day and the benefits you’re getting without even knowing about it. You would literally get fit without exercise!
1. Cleaning the House
The days you spend picking up, wiping down, sweeping, vacuuming, mopping and more are quite beneficial to you. An average person burns around 100 calories for each activity they do. For example, vacuuming can burn as much as 170 calories.
Besides burning calories, you can also receive mental health benefits. The act of cleaning puts control back into your life. You no longer will feel like your house is chaotic because you’ve been able to organize.
Furthermore, depending on how fast and how much you move, your body will release endorphins. These are the feel-good hormones that give you energy and make you happy.
On top of the calorie burn, and mental and physical health benefits, you’ll also be able to take advantage of the reduced allergens in your home. This can keep you feeling healthy throughout the week, especially if you have a difficult time with dust allergies.
2. Playing With Kids
If you have kids, you know how hard they play. They are running, jumping and on the go most of the day. Join them and you’ll burn about 200 calories if you walk or run with them at a moderate pace. The longer you play, the more calories you’ll burn.
Just like cleaning, additional benefits include feeling good about spending quality time with your children. With most people trying to find a work/life balance, playing with their children helps them realize they have what it takes to separate personal and work time. It also provides a break from work, which can help recharge your batteries and improve your productivity.
Depending on how you play with your children, you may also release endorphins. Even if you don’t run around, playing can improve brain function, boost creativity and improve relationships.
3. Cooking Meals
Since you are mostly on your feet when cooking and meal preparation, you burn about 100 calories. Not only that, you can also lose weight by simply choosing where your calories come from when you cook. You can lower the amount of calories you take in by making certain choices when preparing the food.
Instead of using butter, reach for a healthier alternative such as extra virgin olive oil. While it may be high in calories, the monosaturated fats help keep bad LDL cholesterol low and boost good HDL cholesterol.
Protip: Use balsamic vinegar as dressing to make salads “lighter”.
In addition to calorie burn and management, cooking or baking has many benefits. It is meditative, stimulates the senses, boosts creativity and makes other people happy. This can boost mental health, and feeling good mentally can overspill to others areas of your life. It can help you become more productive at work and improve relationships.
Many jobs provide health benefits, and not just the packages your HR manager offers you. The following are just some careers and their health benefits:
When you’re waiting tables, you are on the move your entire shift. While you may not be running, you are walking, lifting and carrying. This can end up burning hundreds of calories for every table you’re responsibly for each shift. Being able to take care of people and being thanked for your service makes you feel good as well.
Desk jobs get a bad rap for making people sedentary, but there are still benefits. You are stimulating your mind, relaxing your body and you do burn some calories – about 50. It’s not much, but it’s something despite what many people will tell you.
Nursing has been criticized for health risks such as carpel tunnel and back injuries from turning patients, which can put more than 1,000 pounds on your back. It’s not all bad, though. There are a great deal of benefits. Most nurses are on their feet most of their shift. They are lifting, carrying and bending. Nursing is also a rewarding job. When they are able to help people recover from illness, they feel good. When patients thank them, it improves their mental health.
Calorie burn depends on if you spend more of your days sitting, standing or carrying items for customers. However, other health benefits of customer service include low stress levels, improved mood from helping others and increased immunity from being exposed to bacterium.
You can burn approximately 144 calories per half-hour of sex. This doesn’t include oral sex, giving a massage, kissing and other foreplay activities. The more you engage with your partner, the more calorie burn you’ll receive.
In addition to calorie burn, you’ll also benefit from improved immunity. If you have sex one or two times a week, you may increase your immunoglobulin A, which is what helps you defend against illness and disease. Those that have sex at least twice a week may have a 45 percent less chance of developing heart disease, since it lowers blood pressure and stress levels.
Sex and hugging releases a feel-good hormone. This hormone boosts your brain’s pleasure and reward system. Sex and intimacy can improve your self-esteem and happiness as well.
Going grocery shopping or other types of shopping can have incredible health benefits. If you’re pushing a heavy cart, you’re burning about 90 calories. Putting those groceries away can burn around 100 calories. Not only are being active, but you’re using your muscles too!
You benefit mentally as well because you get to choose healthy foods and treats that will help you stay active and healthy throughout the week. You are caring for yourself, which will help you love yourself.
You’re also benefiting if you’re shopping for clothes. Walking around looking at clothes and all of that movement you’re making trying clothes on will burn calories. In addition, when you find new outfits that look good on you, you’ll boost your self-esteem and lower your stress levels. Shopping therapy is real, as long as you stay in control. Don’t become distracted with all of the junk foods that malls sell. It will only cancel out all of the health benefits you’re getting from your shopping.
Sleep is more important than you may believe. While it may not actively burn extra calories, it can help you burn more throughout the day. Actually, people who get the sleep they need eat less throughout the day compared to those who are sleep-deprived.
Sleep can improve your memory. According to NYU Langone Medical Center, “If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice, but something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better.”
Sleep deprivation can shorten your lifespan. In a 2010 study, there were more deaths for women aged 50 to 79 who got less than five hours of sleep a night.
Other benefits of sleep include spurring creativity, decreased daytime fatigue, improved stamina and lower stress levels.
Give Yourself a Break
On the days you aren’t able to go to the gym or engage in structured exercise, don’t be too hard on yourself. Cleaning, cooking, working, having sex and sleeping are all still benefiting your health. Exercise just adds to those benefits, so still try to get it in as much as you can. In the meantime, feel good for what you do, and allow yourself to be happy and healthy.