Being Active As Effective As a Gym Workout

office exercise

Even in the '70s, Cosmopolitan magazine knew it was important to be active!

Remember last week when we talked about swapping up? It was a way of living healthier by taking one bad activity and swapping it for a better one. Gradually, over time, you'll be living a more healthy lifestyle and the transition will (hopefully) be fairly painless. I'm happy to report a large cohort study just backed me up! Oregon State University looked at being active versus going to the gym and found that any way you accumulate 30 minutes of daily activity, even one or two minutes at a time, counts! If you think about it, what seems better? One 30-minute workout and the rest of the day on the couch? Or a day that involves a lot of movement throughout? I went from a very active lifestyle to a moderately active lifestyle when I started blogging more, and I can tell you it definitely made a difference for me. We've coined the term "blogger butt" in my family and I have to work a bit harder now to keep it off! The OSU study suggests people look for opportunities to be more active. And no, they don't mean busting out some squats while standing in line at the grocery store.  Here are some "swap" activities they suggest:
  • Riding an escalator for three flights: 3 calories // Climbing three flights of stairs: 30 calories
  • Buying pre-cut vegetables: 0 calories // chopping your own: 20 calories
  • One hour of online shopping: 35 calories // one hour of mall shopping: ¬†215 calories
You get the idea. Here's a great kicker. The study found that those who looked for ways to be more active throughout their day met their 30 minutes of activity threshold 43% of the time. Does that sound bad? Well, the people who used traditional workout methods only made the number 10% of the time! The participants in the study wore accelerometers; I've been using one myself for two weeks now with great results. Mine is a Fitbit and costs about $60 (I got the cheap one, and yes, I paid retail). I can say that wearing the accelerometer has made me much more aware of how often I truly was sitting on my butt. I wasn't even as active in my Pilates studio as I thought. That was a big surprise. Now I check the Fitbit regularly and adjust accordingly. It has definitely made a difference in how I feel and on the scale. I encourage you to give it a go. Just start looking for opportunities during your day. Here are even more ideas:
  • Pushups on the kitchen counter while you're cooking dinner.
  • Park on the far side of the lot and walk a bit further.
  • Go out for lunch and pick a restaurant further away.
  • Take a walk after dinner.
  • Hand deliver a file to a co-worker.
  • Do a few sit ups while you're watching TV.
What about you? Could you make your life more active? I know that for 90% of you the answer is yes! Cheers, Lisa

photo credit: Tiffany Terry

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.


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