by Stephanie Nickel
Raise your hand if your muscles have ever been exercise-tired after a good day of cleaning. That’s a pretty good indicator that your muscles are responding to all the lifting and bending and reaching.
Here are 11 ways to see that you’re exercising—and exercising safely—while doing the housework:
1. Don’t repeat the same action for more than 30 or so consecutive minutes. Go from one thing to the next and then come back to the task if it isn’t complete. (This can be the difference between exercised and strained muscles.)
2. We’ve all heard it, but it bears repeating: Lift using your legs, not your back. Even if the item isn’t particularly heavy, this is good advice—and a great way to get in a few extra squats.
3. When reaching overhead, stretch just a little farther unless you’re on a ladder or a stool, in which case, overextending can lead to an accident and/or injury.
4. Moving items from place to place in each hand? If so, try a few bicep curls along the way.
5. Standing in one place for a while, while doing dishes, for example? Press up onto the balls of your feet then come down onto the soles of your feet again. This motion works your calf muscles. You can also do it on the edge of a step and drop your heels slightly lower than the step. If you do, steady yourself with at least one hand to prevent falling backward.
6. Take the stairs two at a time if you’re able.
7. Lunge walk down the hall.
8. Put on your favourite music and dance from chore to chore. Go ahead. It’s fun.
9. Once you get started, it may be tempting to move on to those chores that you tend to less often. If you want to clean behind the couch or entertainment system, for example, make sure you get help as needed.
10. And if you’re like me and just keep motoring once you’ve made a start, you may have to remind yourself to take regular breaks to hydrate and grab a bite to eat.
11. And while you’re taking a break, do some stretching as well. It’s good for you for so many reasons.
What do you do to make housework a workout?
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Steph Beth Nickel is an author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer.