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Don’t Have Time for Exercise? Try a Substitute

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It's hard to find time for physical activity throughout the year, but in the busy holiday season, it may seem impossible. With gifts to buy, meals to plan and guests to welcome, squeezing in an hour at the gym or on the bike trail may be just a faint memory.

Exercise substitutes can keep you active until you get back on schedule. Consider these home-based activities that let you match the calorie-burning of popular exercises:

Substitutes for moderate exercise (brisk walking, bicycling, aerobics):

• Singing while moving to the music's beat, as in church
• Playing hopscotch or climbing a jungle gym with your kids
• Stacking wood
• Shoveling light snow
• Washing windows
• Walking while pushing a child in a stroller or an adult in a wheelchair
• Painting a room
• Sweeping or vacuuming

Substitutes for vigorous exercise (running, jumping rope, singles tennis)
• Splitting wood with an ax
• Shoveling heavy snow
• Carrying loaded bags up stairs
• Moving heavy furniture
• Pushing a manual lawn mower

Choose your exercise substitute from the intensity group that best matches your current activity level. Adults ages 18 to 65 should accumulate at least 30 minutes of activity on most days, in segments of at least 10 minutes each. In addition, do resistance or weight activities on at least two days.


American Heart Association. "General Physical Activities Defines by Level of Intensity." http://www.choosetomove.org/pdf/PA_Intensity_table_2_1.pdf. Accessed August 20, 2007.

Haskell WL, Lee I-M, Russell R, et al. "Physical Activity and Public Health: Updated Recommendation for Adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association." Circulation. 2007;116(9):1081-1093.
© 2008 National Women's Health Resource Center, Inc. (NWHRC) All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the NWHRC. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: www.healthywomen.org.

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