Everyday Activities Are Just As Good As Hitting the Gym

Good news: It’s easier than you think to burn extra calories and stay healthy—no gym membership required!

| March 11th, 2013

If heading to the gym fills you with dread—and any number of “not today” excuses—you don’t necessarily have to suck it up and just do it. That’s because a new study shows that everyday activities can be just as beneficial as hitting the treadmill or doing your circuit training routine—minus the cash, sweat and annoying machine hoggers.

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Researchers from Oregon State University evaluated a federal survey of more than 6,000 American adults and their physical activity levels. All participants wore accelerometers to track their movement throughout the day. Part of the group took part in structured gym workouts, while the others simply stayed active throughout the day by doing simple chores around the house and running errands. After four consecutive days of wearing the device for at least 10 hours a day, the results were surprising: Small bouts of activity—even just one- and two-minute increments totaling 30 minutes per day—were deemed just as beneficial as longer bouts of exercise at the gym or elsewhere.

Sounds too good to be true? It’s not, according to the study’s co-author Brad Cardinal, Ph.D., who is a professor of exercise and sports science at Oregon State University. Cardinal explained that we can reap just as many healthy rewards from an active lifestyle as we do from structured exercise.

“The big take-home finding was that the health benefits were essentially the same for both groups,” Cardinal explains. “The odds of having metabolic syndrome were no different and even slightly favored the lifestyle group. The impacts were also relatively similar with blood pressure, cholesterol levels, glucose levels and waist circumference.”

Hooray for that!

MORE: How Waist-to-Hip Ratio Relates to Your Health

The only exception was body mass. “In the BMI category, the people who did the traditional exercise program had a lower BMI,” said Cardinal. “We don’t know why, but this was the only variable that favored the structured exercise group.”

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