Woman vacuuming the floor and getting tired

(Photo by Ground Picture on Shutterstock)

LONDON — Staying fit might seem like a daunting task for those of us who aren’t athletes or have the drive to exercise regularly. That doesn’t mean maintaining strong physical health isn’t out of the question. Simple daily activities such as cleaning the car and carrying groceries are easy ways for people to keep fit without spending money.

A recent survey of 2,000 British adults, including 400 individuals with long-term health conditions, reveals surprising attitudes toward health and exercise in a climate of rising living costs. The research, conducted by OnePoll, was commissioned by We Are Undefeatable, an organization in the United Kingdom that supports people with a range of long-term health conditions.

The poll’s findings highlight that the high cost of living in the U.K. is affecting Brits’ well-being and physical activity:

  • 22% reported that their mood has been negatively impacted by the increase in the cost of living.
  • 33% admitted that they are staying home more often due to financial constraints.
  • 68% of respondents are interested in incorporating physical activities into their daily routine without spending money.

Simply Put, Get Your Body Moving

In terms of specific financial challenges, 16 percent are actively looking for more free ways to stay active. Yet one in 10 feel that they can’t afford as healthy a diet as they would like.

When it comes to recognizing everyday activities as forms of exercise, 74 percent do consider tasks like household chores or gardening as exercise. Among those with long-term health conditions, this figure rises to 77 percent.

Dr. Zoe Williams, a celebrity physician in the UK, emphasizes that being active doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Simply boosting your everyday routines can be just as good, she says. Cleaning the home and upping your daily steps by walking instead of driving can go a long way when it comes to benefiting health and mental well-being — and it won’t cost you a penny.

old person cleaning chores
Just when you thought doing household chores were boring, experts say making them fun and active can help keep you fit. (Credit: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

Williams also addresses the challenges that people with long-term health conditions face.

“The management of their health and well-being can be more difficult to navigate. But we know that the majority do want to be more physically active in their day-to-day lives, despite there being some barriers to take into consideration,” she says in a statement per SWNS.

Additional statistics revealed insights into specific activities. Four in 10 respondents believe carrying shopping bags is equivalent to a workout. For older adults, 44 percent think running around after children or grandchildren can be counted as exercise.

However, there is room for improvement. About one in five respondents (19%) wish to engage in more physical activities than they currently do. Only 17 percent currently have a gym membership. Among those with long-term health conditions, 59 percent say their ability to stay physically active is somewhat affected, and 18 percent feel it significantly holds them back.

“Boosting your physical activity doesn’t have to come at a cost,” says Duleep Allirajah, CEO of the Richmond Group of Charities and spokesperson for We Are Undefeatable. “If you’re trying to build up your activity levels, moving around your own home is a great way to start. Pacing the room as you take a phone call, doing some seated leg raises whilst watching TV, or doing a few laps of your kitchen while waiting for the kettle to boil, are great habits to get into, particularly for people living with long-term health conditions.”

Playing with children or grandchildren is always an easy way to get your heart beating faster while connecting with your littlest loved ones. (Photo by Monkey Business Images on Shutterstock)

So, what are some other ways to stay fit for free? Dr. Williams was kind enough to provide this list of 10 great suggestions to keep your body moving if exercising simply can’t fit into your schedule

10 ‘Free’ Ways To Keep Fit

1. Making the bed for mind, body, and soul: Kicking off your day by making your bed, could have benefits, including reducing stress, helping to clear your mind, and boosting your mood. It’s a great way to gently awaken our body and set the tone for an active day.

2. Vacuuming or Sweeping to your favorite songs: When vacuuming or sweeping the floor, the motion of pushing and pulling engages your arms and shoulders, while encouraging you to move more around your home. It provides a light whole-body cardio workout.

3. Carrying shopping bags to maximize movement: Carrying heavy bags of food shopping from the supermarket to your home, is a combined cardio and weightlifting exercise in disguise.

4. Cooking with Cardio: As you create your delicious dishes in the kitchen, the movements you make contribute to a gentle whole-body workout. Lifting pots and pans out of the cupboard, chopping ingredients, stirring, and mixing all involve small arm movements that can build up to more active cooking.

5. Playing with pets or children: Engaging in playtime with your pet or little ones in your family, whether it’s throwing toys for them to fetch or chasing them around, can be a fun and natural workout session. Playtime engages your entire body depending on how you’re feeling.

Mother playing with her children in laundry basket
Playing with the kids while cleaning the house is a multitasking win for your home and your body! (© Jacob Lund – stock.adobe.com)

6. Washing the car: Polishing your vehicle isn’t just about cleanliness, it’s a full body workout in disguise. Scrubbing and reaching works your arms and core, while bending and stretching engages your legs.

7. Walking and talking: Being active while on the phone — whether you’re out and about or simply indoors wandering around your living room — is a great way of increasing your step count without even realizing you’ve done it.

8. Dusting surfaces or cleaning windows: Dusting high shelves or cleaning windows and getting into the hard-to-reach corners involves stretching and reaching. This activates your upper body and could require balance if you need to step onto something to get to those tough spaces — all of which counts towards your daily physical activity levels.

9. Gardening and getting out in nature: Gardening is a holistic workout that combines squatting, bending, lifting, and reaching. As you tend to plants and dig in the soil, you’re engaging your entire body. Being outside in nature can also give you a sense of freedom, and has other benefits, including getting some vitamin D (in the summertime) and fresh air in your lungs.

10. Unloading dishwasher or washing-up: Unloading and loading the dishwasher contributes to a gentle daily cardio workout that engages your core, arms and legs and contributes to overall muscle tone. As you reach, lift and bend, you’re engaging multiple muscle groups across the body. Hand washing plates, pots or pans, also engages your arm and shoulders as you scrub, rinse and lift plates out of the water and onto the draining board.

So what are you waiting for? Get moving and enjoy the benefits you may never have realized you could be getting all along.

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