9 Surprising Activities That Can Improve Your Health

We all know that going for a jog or taking a spin class can improve your health. And when we think about exercise, for most of us, these are the kinds of activities that come to mind. But what other activities can improve our health? Here are some unexpected ways to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine.

1. Playing games

Pokemon Go is all the rage right now. And aside from encouraging us all to celebrate our inner nerd, it’s helping a lot of people to get outside and move. Without scheduling a workout session, players are adding a significant amount of walking to their daily routines. Before Pokemon Go, there was geocaching. And before that, there were all the games we used to play as kids, like foursquare and hopscotch. If you have kids, try taking them to the park and playing. It’s safe to say that most of us could use a little more play in our lives. There are also active video games, like Xbox Fitness and Wii Fit Plus.

2. Choosing your parking space

When you’re running errands, try parking farther away from the store. This can be particularly helpful if you’re going to a mall, whose perimeter could be close to a quarter of a mile around.

3. Walking and talking

If you’re on a phone call, especially if you know it’s going to be a fairly lengthy one, head outside and go on a walk while you’re talking. Or, if you can’t leave the office, try standing while you’re on the phone, as it burns more calories than sitting (though it’s important to note that burning calories is only one aspect of a beneficial workout and a healthy overall lifestyle).

4. Dancing

This time of year, a lot of us are inundated with a flood of weddings. Of course, hitting the dance floor can be a lot of fun, but don’t underestimate its potential health benefits. Dancing is a great form of exercise.

5. Dating

If you’re in the dating scene, consider scheduling a walk in the park, rather than an expensive dinner. It’ll save you money, as well as help you get in some additional exercise. And it’s likely to make a good impression with your date, because it’s a little out of the box.

6. Volunteering

Take some time over the weekend to volunteer with a non-profit. These volunteer positions will likely have you on your feet for a good portion of the day. Do some work for Habitat for Humanity. Or, if there’s one nearby, volunteer to help tend a local urban garden, like People’s Grocery in Oakland, Calif. Not only will you be getting in some cardio, you’ll be supporting a good cause, as well.

7. Doing chores

No one likes vacuuming or cleaning house. But the good news is that, although it may be a little boring, it does burn a fair number of calories. Put on your headphones and create a great playlist to make it a little more enjoyable.

8. Taking advantage of down time

Throughout the day, there are moments when we find ourselves engaged in activities that aren’t particularly demanding either of our bodies or our minds. During those moments, we can add in a little exercise. Do wall squats while brushing your teeth, for example. Or if you’re watching TV, get up and walk around during the commercials.

9. Cooking

Of course, most of us don’t have time to prepare elaborate meals every day. But walking around the kitchen, pulling things out of cabinets and lifting them back in, burns calories. And you’re likely to wind up with a meal that’s healthier than the packaged or delivery options you might have chosen otherwise.

— Sarah Cooke

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