Physical activity is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and when done regularly can provide both physical and mental benefits. Physical activity is often measured by people counting the time that they dedicate specifically to exercise and/or the calories that they burn. However, not only do activities like gardening, cleaning, walking, and lawn mowing count as exercise, but they also help promote joint function, movement, balance, stability, and the burning of calories.
Gardening is a great example of a physical activity that provides both physical and mental benefits. Not only does gardening typically involve some form of aerobic exercise, but it also involves a lot of bending, stretching, and other movements which help promote joint function and movement. Gardening for 30 minutes can burn up to 120 calories and has many other health benefits such as improving one’s mood, reducing stress, and increasing exposure to sunlight. The effort of gardening not only provides exercise. but may also contribute to personal satisfaction and accomplishment.
Similarly, walking for 30 minutes can burn up to 150 calories and is a great way to get some moderate aerobic exercise and improve one’s balance and stability. Walking also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, increases energy levels, and promotes better sleep. Walking can be a great alternative to driving or busing. It can help clear the mind after a stressful day or even be that start or break in the day to get your creative juices flowing. Also, walking with a friend or family member can be a great way of promoting relationships and connecting with others.
Activities like lawnmowing and cleaning, which are often thought of as “chores” can also help burn calories and achieve exercise benefits. Mowing the lawn for 30 minutes with a walk behind lawnmower can burn up to 150 calories while vacuuming for 20 minutes can burn up to 70. Additionally, these activities promote a more active lifestyle by encouraging movement, which in turn helps reduce stress levels and improves well-being. You can even make these “chores” enjoyable while listening to music or reflecting on how much better things look when you’ve completed the task.
In an earlier blog, I wrote about how NEAT movement counts as exercise. While this is a more technical explanation of “non-exercise” activities, it also helps explore the science behind activity and exercise. This can be encouraging and motivating to individuals who have full schedules between work and home and are intending on meeting the exercise guidelines.
The American Council on Exercise provides a physical activity calculator to estimate calories burned based on your body weight and time spent doing a variety of basic activities. While some individuals don’t focus on counting calories, for some tracking activities and calorie expenditure can promote compliance to their specific health goals. For these individuals, using tracking devices such as a Fitbit, Oura ring, or Apple watch can be a game-changer in promoting physical activity compliance.
Overall, staying active through a variety of activities can be a great way to maintain physical and mental health. Don’t forget to count your physical activities as exercise. They not only does help burn calories, but also promote joint function, movement, balance, stability, and well-being. That’s why it is important to incorporate movement activities into one’s lifestyle to get the most out of them.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult a doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle or exercise regimen.
I am a Master’s prepared RN, National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Board-Certified Functional Wellness Coach, and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner. I help people fix their chronic inflammation & pain with in-home lab testing, client assessments, personalized natural healing protocols, and online coaching to help them move from pain to peace so that they feel better, move better, and live better.