Running on a treadmill to the point of exhaustion is not everyone’s idea of a good time. But could there be a more natural way of achieving your health and fitness goals?
Your daily tasks, the things you do every day, can be a source of fitness. Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, stated that high-intensity incidental physical activity (HIIPA), could be pivotal in helping overweight or unfit people improve their health. The best part is you do nothing out of the ordinary.
You can mow your lawns, play with the kids, do some gardening, or wash your car, and you’re contributing to your health and wellbeing. You don’t need to make extra time, buy equipment, or have a particular set of skills.
According to the World Health Organisation, an average person needs 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week. Anything you do to get your heart rate up, increase your body temperature, or work out your muscles, contributes to that time. At least two sessions of strength training per week are also a recommendation.
Incidental fitness works hand in hand with functional fitness, which is structured exercise that helps you carry out your daily tasks. For example, let’s say you do a lot of heavy lifting; strengthening the group of muscles involved can make this easier, and help reduce the risk of injury.
Around 60 percent of Australian women are overweight or unfit, with many saying they struggle to find time for structured exercise. Most people find it easier to be active in lots of little ways through their day. According to research, three to five brief HIIPA sessions daily, totalling only five to 10 minutes, can benefit health and fitness levels.
In essence, to benefit from incidental physical activity, you add intensity to everything you do. Put a little more gusto into hanging out your washing, and run at a faster pace when you’re chasing the kids. Park further away from the office, walk fast, take the stairs, and do a little dance while you’re washing the dishes.
Remember to think of movement as an opportunity, not a nuisance, and pick up the pace next time you hit the supermarket.