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Turn housework into a workout

Is exercise a part of your daily life? Not if you’re like most U.S. adults. More than 50 percent don’t get enough physical activity to reap any health benefits. That may be hard to believe when days are a blur of work, household chores, errands and family time. Unfortunately, busy-ness is not the same as fitness. But you can find plenty of great ways to stay in shape and accomplish all you need to if you look in the right places.

Try these tips to find the fitness in your daily to-do list:

  • Make cleaning count. The stretching, lifting and sheer physical work involved in mopping floors, scrubbing tubs and other housework can get you moving. Put on your sneakers, play some lively music and pick up the pace.
  • Wash the car. This can be a refreshing chore on a warm day.
  • Mow the lawn with a push mower. Sorry, ride-on mowers don’t count.
  • Make your garden grow. Raking, hoeing, pruning and digging are great exercises to strengthen your arms, legs and back. A vigorous hour of gardening can burn up to 300 calories.
  • Walk the dog. Share a twice-daily constitutional with your furry friend. Choose a hilly route and keep a brisk pace.
  • Work out while watching TV. Pedal a stationary bike, walk on a treadmill, use a stair climber, lift weights or use other home fitness equipment while you watch TV.
  • Paint it pretty. Don’t hire painters; get a good workout and save money by taking on home repairs and improvement projects yourself.
  • Walk the talk. Get up and move around while talking on the phone. Even better, grab your cell and take a few laps around the block as you chat.
  • Run errands on pedal power. If you live far from your town’s main strip, drive to a central location and head out on foot or bike (or scooter!) to swing by the bank and post office, drop off dry cleaning, return videos and library books and pick up fresh vegetables for dinner.

Aim to find at least 30 minutes—out of your daily 1,440—for moderate physical and aerobic activity that gets your heart pumping faster and your lungs taking in more air than usual. Regular exercise can lower cholesterol and triglycerides, help reduce stress from a hectic schedule and reduce the chance of a second heart attack. Pumping up the fitness volume of ordinary chores not only provides health benefits, but makes accomplishing tasks more enjoyable. And you may finish your to-do list faster, allowing you more time for leisure activities.