Healthy Bites

3 Tips for Getting into an Exercise Groove

A woman looks exhausted during her workout.
(Image credit: Workout photo via Shutterstock)

Many everyday activities, such as home repairs and gardening may be as good as exercise, according to an October British Journal of Sports Medicine study. But does that mean you can skip your daily workout?

According to the study, if you engage in these household activities regularly, you may slash your chances of suffering from a heart attack or stroke.

And there's even more good news on this front. Sex may also be a type of exercise, according to an October study in the journal PLOS One. Researchers found that young men burn an average of 4.2 calories per minute, and young women burn about 3.1 calories per minute during sex.

But don't let that gym membership lapse just yet. If your entire workout regimen consists of some light cleaning for a half an hour every week, well, that's hardly enough to burn a significant number of calories. [Infographic: How Many Calories Am I Burning?]

In fact, there's some danger in calling these day-to-day activities exercise, according to the results of a BMC Public Health study. Researchers followed the habits of more than 4,000 people and found that those who counted housework towards their exercise goals were heavier on average than those who didn't. The reason isn't clear, but it could be that these people were overestimating the time or effort needed to complete their chores.

So it seems the bottom line is that activities like housework, gardening and sex do count as exercise, but if you're serious about your health, it's probably best to schedule more traditional workouts. But don't fret over the idea. Use these simple tips to get yourself into the “exercise groove.”

  1. Schedule your workouts now. You don't have to know exactly what time you'll be working out, but it helps to know where exercise fits in your day. Will you work out first thing in the morning? Directly from work? Will you go home to feed the fish first? Plan your day, including when and how you will exercise.
  2. Act like you mean it. Anyone who has ever been stuck in the “I'll exercise tomorrow” cycle knows that it's not enough to say you're going to do something. If you plan to exercise first thing in the morning, set your alarm and lay out every bit of clothing and equipment you'll need before you go to bed. If exercise will come later, pack a gym bag and leave it by the door. These are small actions, but they may give you the momentum you need to keep going.
  3. Grab a buddy. Sometimes, we just need a little moral support. When you can combine quality time with a friend and a workout, doesn't the latter seem a little less intimidating?

Healthy Bites appears weekly on LiveScience. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!

Deborah Enos
Deborah Enos, CN, also known as "The One-Minute Wellness Coach," is The Health Coach for busy, working people. She pares her good-health messages down to simple and fast bullet points that can impact lives in 60 seconds or less. Deborah serves as a board member of the American Heart Association.  In addition to writing the Healthy Bites column for Live Science, Deborah is a regular on FOX Business News, NBC and ABC, and is a frequent contributor to The Costco Connection, Parade Magazine, Self Magazine, Good Housekeeping and USA Today. Deborah is also The One Minute Wellness Coach for The Doctors TV Show.