Upping your daily levels of physical activity may, at first, seem daunting; but chances are it’ll be easier than you think.
While most people tend to think of exercise as 'sport' – running, gym and the like, research shows everyday activities such as climbing stairs and cleaning can have just as great an effect on your overall health – and in turn, slash the odds of disease.
And given the evidence – a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes and a 30% lower risk of early death – it begs the question: why aren’t we doing more of the stuff?
This daily exercise plan is recommended to reach the 3000 MET (metabolic equivalent) minutes a week goal that research from the British Medical Journal has set in order to live a longer, healthier life.
But these MET minutes aren’t normal minutes! They’re measured by the intensity of the exercise you’re doing, for example jogging has an MET value of 7, meaning half an hour of jogging is equal to 210 MET minutes.
So, how can you incorporate these goals into your day-to-day routine?
Climbing the stairs: 10 minutes
Something as simple as ensuring you always take the stairs (when there’s easier alternatives) can improve your cardiovascular fitness, strength, and have a profound impact on your health.
While climbing a minimum of eight staircases a day can lower the average early mortality rate by 33%, the 10 minutes it should take you will reportedly protect against high blood pressure and halve the risk of a heart attack over 10 years.
Vacuuming: 15 minutes
Vacuuming may feel like a chore but it’s a great form of exercise, as well as a necessity for a clean house. In addition to the abdominal workout you get from the forward and backward motion, it uses all the major muscles and burns up to 90 calories per half hour. Incorporate just 15 minutes a day into your routine, and voila!
No carpets? You’ll work up even more of a sweat with a broom or mop.
Running: 20 minutes
You don’t have to be an athlete to reap the benefits of running and you certainly don’t have to travel fast to make an impact. Just 20 minutes a day of jogging, brisk walking (plus a few sprints, where possible) will do you the world of good – from lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and preventing high cholesterol and diabetes, through to reducing the odds of cardiovascular disease by almost half.
Gardening: 20 minutes
Fancy yourself as a bit of a Titchmarsh? This green-fingered proposal will be music to your ears. We’re not talking slogging it out for hours at a time, but 20 minutes of moderate gardening per day – from weeding through to digging and planting.
As well as strengthening your bones, the stress-relieving pastime can increase your flexibility, lower your risk for diabetes and decrease blood pressure.
Cycling: 25 minutes
Hopping onto a bike is a sure-fire way to up your fitness levels and enhance your health. If it’s possible, cycle to work rather than squeezing onto public transport with the rest of the daily commuters, or try cycling to the station if you usually drive.
Not only will you save money (it’s a no-brainer!), you’ll increase your muscle strength and flexibility, improve your posture, reduce stress and improve heart health – namely reducing the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.
What’s your daily exercise routine? Tell us in the Comments section below