If your idea of a good workout is reaching for your toes to give yourself a pedicure, you may be more right than you think. You don't need to sweat for hours at the gym to reap the benefits of light exercise, especially if you live a generally active lifestyle and eat a healthy diet.
Exercise is classified by its intensity, according to MayoClinic.com. Intensity can be measured two ways: paying attention to how you feel and measuring your heart rate. If you’re planning to do light exercise, you probably don’t need to buy a gadget to measure your heart rate -- you can estimate based on how hard you're working. Light exercise won’t make you sweat or get out of breath. Not only should you be able to talk while doing it, but you might also have enough breath to sing.
Most everyday activities that do not involve sitting at a keyboard or in front of a television qualify as light exercise. Housework like scrubbing the bathroom or kitchen, vacuuming and dusting are examples of light exercise. Gardening and small DIY tasks like painting, hanging wallpaper or laying a floor qualify as light exercise, and so does playing catch or other active games with pets or nieces and nephews. Walking at a leisurely pace -- with your partner or alone -- is one of the simplest and most effective forms of light exercise.
Even if you don’t wear yourself out at the gym, regular exercise -- at least 30 minutes every day -- can reduce your risk of developing diabetes, certain cancers and heart disease. It is also a mood elevator and stress reliever. Taking a long, slow walk with your partner can give you a little alone time to get reacquainted and bond, giving you emotional benefits to go with the physical ones. Walking after dinner, according to a 2012 study done at the Kyoto Prefectural University in Kyoto, Japan, can lower the level of triglycerides in your blood. High triglyceride levels can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Tips and Hints
Even light exercise involves a little bit of exertion, so make sure you stay hydrated. According to MayoClinic.com, the old-school advice to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day has been updated to acknowledge that all liquids count, not just water. Ramping up your daily exercise burns more calories, but if you're trying to lose weight, make sure you don't overeat to compensate.
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise Intensity -- Why It Matters, How It's Measured
- Fitness Universal: The Fundamentals Series - Regular Exercise
- Weight Watchers: The Benefits of Light Exercise
- BBC News: Even 'Light' Exercise Aids Health
- American College of Sports Medicine: Light Exercise After Meals May Help Keep Triglycerides Low
- MayoClinic.com: Water - How Much Should You Drink Every Day?
Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.