Fitness

Tone up with the housework workout

By: Susannah Marriott

Author: Canadian Living

Fitness

Tone up with the housework workout

By: Susannah Marriott

The key to becoming more active is not to think of exercise as something you go to a special place to do – the gym, the pool, or at a yoga studio, for example – but as something that feels as natural as climbing the stairs. There are plenty of opportunities around the home to make your day more active. Finding tasks that add up to 30 minutes a day most days of the week isn't difficult if you follow these tips.

1. Stay active
A Dutch study in the journal Nature found that people who engaged in moderate-intensity activity were more active overall than those who occasionally upped the intensity of their activity. We need to burn 400 calories a day in physical activity to stay in shape: 30 minutes' vacuuming burns 105, while walking briskly up and down stairs, putting toys and clothes away without stopping burns up to 150.

2. Balance board warm up

Keep a "wobble" board at home and use it to awaken your senses and body awareness before starting a housework session. This also builds core strength and a flexible pelvis and trunk. Spherical boards that move through 360 degrees are more effective than rockers that move from side to side.

3. Ditch the appliances
To sustain moderate activity wash up and dry by hand instead of using a dishwater, use a dustpan and brush over a vacuum cleaner, walk the clothes to the bottom of the garden to hang them out to dry rather than going straight to the dry cycle. All this makes your home greener, too. Build stretches into your day by reaching up for cobwebs with a feather duster.

4. Dusting stretches

Buy a feather duster and practise this stretch as you swipe at cobwebs. Holding the duster in your right hand, stand with feet hip-width apart and stretch it towards the ceiling. Lengthen your right side from hip to underarm without letting your left side collapse. Still stretching up, inhale. As you exhale, pull your tummy muscles in and reach over your head to your left side. Keep the left side of your waist long and stop if you feel strain on your back. Come back to the centre and repeat the sideways stretch 5 times. Repeat on your left side.

Page 1 of 3 -- Discover easy ways to sneak in a workout while scrubbing floors or picking up toys on page 2



Excerpted from 1,001 Ways to Get in Shape, copyright 2009 by Susannah Marriott. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher. 5. Floor scrubbing
Being on your hands and knees is a good position to get into if your life is sedentary. It stretches your upper back and activates the core muscles in your abdomen, which support your frame.

Get onto hands and knees, hands under your shoulders and knees beneath your hips. Circle your hips clockwise, then anticlockwise. Then lengthen your spine from tailbone to the crown of your head, making a tabletop shape. Press on your hands and push the top of your back towards the ceiling, making an "n" shape. Relax your head and neck. Holding the position, exhale, pulling your abdominal muscles back and up. Inhaling, return to the tabletop position. Repeat a few times. Now scrub the floor, making wide circles clockwise and anticlockwise, using both hands equally.

6. Clean to the beat
Put on some high-energy music when tidying or cleaning up, and coordinate your movements with the beat. Or spend the first five minutes dancing around to warm up before getting down to work. Have another five-minute dance once you have finished, making your movements slower and smaller as you cool down.

7. Squat pick-up

Picking up toys or laundry from the floor is a great excuse to work your thighs and buttocks. Stand with feet hip-width apart with the objects within arm's reach. Inhale; and as you exhale pull in your tummy muscles, then bend at the knees and hips, squatting low enough to pick up the item easily. Inhale as you come back to standing. Squat for each item. If your children scatter the floor with toys daily you'll notice a difference in your shape in a couple of weeks.

8. Start a family chore list
To get the whole household active, draw up a chore list that assigns tasks. Make sure everyone gets a good mix of duties: carrying heavy garbage cans, scrubbing the bathtub, raking the yard, washing windows, turning mattresses, and mowing the lawn count as high intensity; washing the dishes, putting away dishes, and setting the table count as moderate.

Page 2 of 3 -- From practicing simple yoga to exercising more of your arm muscles, find more simple ways to tone up your workout on page 3



Excerpted from 1,001 Ways to Get in Shape, copyright 2009 by Susannah Marriott. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.




9. Be mindful
Practitioners of Eastern exercise systems, such as t'ai chi or yoga, teach that the energy that fires us up emanates from the hara, a well of energy sited around the navel. As you do housework, imagine each movement starting in this core part of the body and radiating out to your extremities, and visualize your breath fanning a flame of motivating energy here.

10. Wear massage sandals
Take a cool-down stroll wearing massage sandals after a housework session; allow the tiny fingers on the footbed to massage away aches and to promote circulation – this will help oxygenate all your cells and carry away toxins. Reflexologists teach that as you stimulate points on the soles of the feet you enhance the well-being of other parts of the body. The heels – where you land before transferring your weight forward – relate to the pelvis, buttocks, and sciatic nerve.

11. Arm workout
If you have loose rugs, clean them the old-fashioned way with a carpet beater or big stick. This exercises first your chest muscles and the biceps, then the muscles in your shoulders and the triceps at the back of your arms.

• Throw the rug over a clothesline, the higher the line, the better. For extra security as you beat, attach clothespins to keep it in place.
• Standing sideways on, with your left shoulder next to the rug and holding the beater in your right hand, swing your shoulders to beat the rug.
• After two minutes, change direction and beat "backhand". Move to the back of the rug, place the beater in your left hand, and repeat.

Read more:
17 ways to get active outside
Spring cleaning made easy
Photo gallery: How to jump start your metabolism

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Excerpted from 1,001 Ways to Get in Shape, copyright 2009 by Susannah Marriott. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.
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Fitness

Tone up with the housework workout