Calories burned doing everyday activities add up

Monday, February 6, 2012
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Now that we've made it into the New Year, most of us are hoping to lose the excess weight that we gained over the holidays and get in overall better physical condition.

Did you know that there are ways to burn calories and build strength while you are doing routine daily chores and activities?

"Most household chores will burn between 100 and 200 calories for every half hour that you do them depending on the weight of the individual," says Brandon Job, fitness trainer at HealthPoint Fitness in Cape Girardeau. "For example, grocery shopping using a cart can burn between 100 and 130 calories per half hour. Housecleaning can burn between 130 and 140 calories per half hour."

And all your yardwork adds up, too.

"Gardening and weeding can burn between 150 and 165 calories per half hour," Job says. "Lawn mowing using a push mower can burn between 160 and 170 calories per half hour. Strenuous activity like snow shoveling can burn between 200 and 220 calories per 30-minute interval," says Job.

Carlen Mulholland, fitness trainer at Fitness Plus in Cape Girardeau, says the key is to stay active.

"Even if you are doing simple activities that don't burn that many calories, staying active is what is most important," she says. "Moving your joints and muscles is just as important as burning calories."

In addition to daily chores, daily recreational activities like playing with young grandchildren can also burn between 170 and 180 calories per half hour.

To achieve an even higher calorie burn and build better strength and endurance, Job recommends shopping with a basket and carrying your purchases instead of pushing them in a cart.

"When you are out shopping, park in a spot that is farther away from the store instead of closer," says Job. "The extra walking will help with mobility, balance and strength. Also, taking the stairs when possible can add to your daily activity level."

Carrying handheld weights is another way to build muscle, according to Mulholland.

When doing your daily chores, Job recommends taking a quick break every 20 minutes or so. "By maintaining activity over a longer period of time, you will keep your metabolism level higher and get more calorie burn," he says.

It is also important to maintain a good heart rate during daily activities. "For an average 60-year-old individual with no health risks, a heart rate of 130 to 140 beats per minute would be a comfortable rate while doing moderate activity," he says.

And don't forget to drink water while going about your daily activities.

"One key ingredient to staying healthy and feeling good while doing chores is hydration," says Job. "A good rule of thumb is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day if you are doing moderate activity."

If you don't want to tie up your hands carrying a water bottle while you are exercising, running errands or doing other activities, Mulholland recommends purchasing a reusable water bottle that attaches to a belt.

For more strenuous exercise, many people choose sports drinks such as Gatorade or PowerAde. Job recommends cutting sports drinks with 50 percent water to avoid gastrointestinal distress and to cut back on extra calories that can be found in sports drinks.

Something else to consider when working around the house or shopping is proper footwear. Job recommends a cross training shoe with good support.

"You need to be properly fitted for the shoe to see if your foot pronates (excessive inward roll of the foot after landing), supinates (insufficient inward roll of the foot after landing), or remains neutral," says Job. "Your choice of footwear not only affects the comfort of your feet, but it also affects your joint stability as well as your knees, hips and spine, so you want to invest in a good shoe."

You also need to wear the right clothing.

"Dressing appropriately is key to doing activities outdoors," says Mulholland. "Remember, if you are walking at a brisk pace or doing fairly strenuous activity outside, your activity level will make it feel an extra 20 degrees warmer, so be sure not to overdress."

Job also cautions everyone to check with a physician before engaging in even moderate activity.

"Conditions to be especially watchful for are high blood pressure, coronary disease or diabetes," he says. "Have a physician check you out even if you don't have a previous health condition, as those can appear at any time. Once you get a clean bill of health, always warm up before you begin an activity, and always begin at a light pace. Gradually work up to a higher pace, and take frequent breaks in between."

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