Everyday activities to boost your day
Posted on 4 July 2017
Did you know that doing chores around the house and garden can significantly boost your daily activity levels? From playing frisbee with the kids to garden work, dusting and scrubbing pans, we look at everyday activities that can boost your day and your overall health and wellbeing.
Not too long ago, humans used to be more active – doing our own washing, cleaning and gardening, and walking to a job that often involved physical labour. Now we have multiple appliances, cleaning, transport and automation services. This is not only costly for the household budget, but also impacts greatly on our health and wellbeing.
One survey found that 68% of South African employees did not meet recommended physical activity guidelines, resulting in a population with generally ill health.
What’s all the fuss about?
Physical activity is good for everyone, at every age, and it’s not only about weight loss. There are many mental wellbeing and health benefits, including reducing the risk of disease as well as treating conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis. Moderate-intensity exercise to get your heart pumping benefits cardiovascular health, says biokineticist Stefan Uys of Mediclinic Bloemfontein.
Keys to success
There are many ways to be more active, depending on your interests and fitness levels. Creativity is key, says Ansoné Hugo, a biokineticist at Mediclinic Kimberley.
Playing outside with children and pets
Playing frisbee can burn 1 255 kJ/hour and works your hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus complex, biceps and triceps – to name but a few. That is equivalent to the kilojoules contained in an extra-large roll or baguette.
An 80kg person can burn around 711 kilojoules per hour by doing light cleaning (like dusting), and 795 kilojoules per hour for harder jobs like scrubbing, says Stefan. Ansoné suggests trying squats and leg extensions while washing dishes.
Depending on how strenuous the activity, gardening can burn between 837 and 2 510 kJ/hour and works all the major muscle groups, says Stefan.
If you’re at your desk, Ansoné recommends doing chair squats or push-ups against your table, taking the stairs, or walking around your office hourly.
How to get started
Start small, Ansoné advises. ‘Set weekly goals for yourself – like walking the dog around the block every day, then increase the distance as you get fitter.’
To keep activities varied, draw up an activity calendar. ‘For example: Day 1: do the washing, Day 2: sweep the floors, Day 3: wash the car, Day 4: gardening, and so on,’ says Ansoné.
Ideally daily activities should be done together with a structured exercise plan.
‘Exercise’ is merely planned activity that targets certain muscle groups. There are four main types of exercises – endurance, balance, flexibility and strength. Weight-bearing exercises like walking and lifting weights are good for bone health and can prevent osteoporosis.
‘A balanced exercise plan includes aerobic exercise for cardiovascular fitness and strength training to maintain muscle and bone mass,’ says Stefan, adding that stretching and balance exercise can reduce the risk of falls.
‘The basic guideline we work on is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, and strength training (weights, or carrying groceries) at least twice a week,’ Stefan explains. He adds that for older patients with chronic conditions, it’s important that activities are tailored to be on the safe side.