Everyday exercise will pay off in the long run

When you go to the grocery store, where do you park? Do you drive around and around, looking for the closest spot to the entrance?

Do you lie in wait for an innocent shopper to leave the store—navigating your vehicle on his or her heels —until the very moment you can pounce on that space between the spot that’s just a hop, skip and a jump from the front door?

Have you ever boasted about possessing “great parking karma”—claiming to always find up-close parking spots? If this type of activity sounds familiar, you may be suffering from “Don’t- wanna-walk-too-far-itis.” It’s a chronic problem sweeping our nation, and forcing the onset of waistline expansion!

Ask my kids, ages 10 and six, and they’ll tell you, I do not suffer from “Don’t-wanna-walk-too-far-itis.” The back 40 is my vehicle’s home away from home. I revel in “hoofing-it” to our final destination, even if I have to put up with some whining along the way.

“Mooooooom! It’s sooo faaaaaaar!” Or if we’re parked at the top level of a parking structure (as we’re known to do just to get in the stair work going back to the car) I often hear, “Why do we have to paaaaaark up heeeeeere? There are so many other spaces closer to the store!!” 

To that I reply, “Yeah, but it’s good for us to walk a few additional steps. Someday you’ll be thankful I’m teaching you the importance of exercise and how expending just this little bit of extra energy each day is healthy for our systems!”

Is walking from the east side of the mall near JCPenney all the way to the west of the mall to Sears the kind of thing that will have us looking like celebrity fitness trainers Jillian Michaels and Tony Horton? Of course not! But getting into the habit of moving more CAN’T hurt us. In fact, it’s what many of those trainers suggest we do when we’re new to fitness and exercise: Just get moving!

I haven’t picked up a women’s health magazine in the last decade or listened to a health-related news story without hearing about how starting with the simple things can make a difference. Parking in a different zip code than the store I’m visiting (or so it would seem to my children) is just one type of everyday exercise.

And the great thing about doing everyday exercise is that it has a snowball effect. It makes me want to find any and all conduits for calorie burning or manners of muscle building -- opportunities when seemingly mundane chores become bursts of energy!

I look at changing out the laundry as a chance to do some heavy lifting and twisting for my core stomach muscles. Vacuuming becomes a way to build up arm and leg muscles if you switch your vacuum-holding side every so often. Don’t turn up your nose at trips back in the house to grab something you forgot. Take ‘em! They’re not pesky; they’re part of your everyday exercise routine!

Now, I realize there are people reading this who have limited mobility. I can empathize. My mom needs to have a knee replacement surgery in a few weeks. Every step she takes is painful. As I’ve outlined in a previous blog, I’ve suffered chronic foot pain in the past.

In similar instances, the everyday exercise I’m describing may not work for you. And there are also times when, here in the Pacific Northwest it’s just too darn rainy or you’re in a hurry and you don’t want to drag your kids across the parking lot. I totally get it. But what I’m encouraging all of us to do is not to miss opportunities when we CAN flex our everyday exercise skills.

How do you take an everyday activity and infuse it with energy? I’ll steal any and all good ideas!