Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Incidentally...are you missing opportunities for exercise?

"Australia is one of the most overweight developed nations, with overweight and obesity affecting about one in two Australian adults and up to one in four children."

Weighing it up: Obesity in Australia. Report by the House of
Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing.
Released 2 June 2009.

In my current house, I have just one landline phone which is a traditional corded phone (slightly more modern than the picture above, but not a lot more) plugged into a phone point in the kitchen, which is downstairs.

This is a fairly unusual situation for me, as in previous houses I have had up to five cordless phones scattered around the house. For technological reasons too long-winded and boring to go into here, that arrangement is not possible in this house, and for the moment at least, I have just the one phone.

Did I mention it is in the kitchen? Which is downstairs? And that my study where, when I'm at home, I spend a great deal of time, is upstairs?

So every time the phone rings, I spring from my desk, I belt down the stairs taking several at a time, I swing around the corner and down the corridor and I lunge across the kitchen at the phone - often reaching it just as it goes through to Messagebank. Grrrr.

It is a frustrating situation, but I've learnt to turn my frustration into a positive experience by thinking, at least I got some exercise. I've stretched out my muscles after sitting at the computer and I've pumped some blood around my body.

It's what they call incidental exercise. And before our time, people's lives were full of it. Who needed to go to the gym when you were active all day long just by getting on with life?

So I've looked at my own life and realised it's full of missed incidental exercise opportunities such as:
  • Using the TV remote vs getting up and changing channels on the TV itself
  • Using a garage door remote vs getting out of the car and opening a door or gate manually
  • Using an electric mixer vs handbeating cream, eggs or a cake
  • Sending someone an email greeting vs walking to the postbox to mail a card
  • Vaccuming up leaves in the garden with a blower-vac vs raking, sweeping and bagging the leaves
  • Playing a computer game with the kids vs playing backyard cricket
  • Putting a load of washing in the dryer vs hanging it out on the line, or on racks

Technology. How convenient is it really, if it's helping to make us fat? Are we saving a few minutes and some effort now, only to spend that time on a dialysis machine or in a cardiac ward later when we suffer complications from being overweight?

What opportunities for incidental exercise are you missing?


Jitterbug said...

I've recently started using the restroom at work on the floor above mine. And I take the stairs two at a time going up, so it's a mini workout for my quads at least three times a day! I guess if you stop to think about it, there are zillions of little ways you got burn off calories and tone muscle...

Megan said...

Great points. I think we are missing out on HEAPs of opportunities for incidental exercise. Some more...

Driving to school to collect the kids instead of letting them walk home.

Pulling up a Duvet rather than tucking in sheets/heavy blankets/bedspread.

Personal printers in offices rather than a single printer to walk to and collect your copy. Also missed opportunity for social interaction.

I think we should be able to amass quite a list here.

Auntie 4 Letter said...

I do rake up the leaves each weekend and vaccuum the pool not to mention hanging out the washing and doing the housework but it doesn't appear to be reducing my girth!

trashalou said...

There was a programme about this recently in the UK. Some guy lost nearly a kilo in three weeks just with really minor mods to his daily rouitine - no gym, no equipment, not even changing into really WOW! exercise gear.

innercitygarden said...

My Mum always parked an extra block from work, so she walked that little bit further twice a day.

peppermintpatcher said...

I make sure that I park right at the back of a carpark when I visit the shops - I figure that is at least some incidental exercise.

Brenda said...

Having grown up in the days before all the electronic devices we surround ourselves with now, I do know the differences! And I feel as though not walking more is one of the biggest things for me personally. Our family never had more than one car, so 5 of us kids walked wherever we needed to go. It is so sad to say that because of safety issues now, children aren't allowed the freedoms we were.

Stacey said...

I work on the third floor of a building and my intention is always to use the stairs, but, I usually find a reason not to - ie. carrying a coffee, shopping, sore ankle, etc.
I have just started riding bikes to school rather than driving. We actually get there in about the same time so there's no reason not to do it.

le @ thirdontheright said...

I have a goodie ... I leave the washing basket and pegs at the far end of the clothes line and walk back and forward each time to hang items ...

I also hang like items with like - eg so all the little lad undies together - this is not for exercise but for effiecency as I then fold as I get the wash in and then it is all in the correct piles just to put away ... le