Minirobics

Philip J. Goscienski, M.D.

March 2009

You need at least 30 minutes a day of moderately intense exercise in order to maintain muscle tone, hold your weight down and keep your heart and lungs working the way nature intended until old age. But do you need a gym membership or hundreds of dollars worth of home exercise equipment? Consider these Minirobics, short spurts of activity that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

If you use public transportation, don't get off at the stop nearest your office. If you drive, park your car a couple of blocks farther away than usual. If these simple measures add just 2 blocks — about 1/8th of a mile — to the distance to your place of business, that's more than a mile a week. Not much but it's a beginning and you might find yourself stretching that distance by a couple of blocks more every few weeks as you find that you can spare the extra minutes.

Get in the habit of walking up one flight of stairs and walking down three. That's not just better for your fitness, it's probably faster than waiting for an elevator.

Stay on your feet whenever you're on the phone. You'll burn a few calories and develop better tone in your legs. Standing up while you're talking on the phone gives your voice more energy.

Don't park near the entrance to the supermarket. Carrying a couple of bags of groceries to the farthest corner of the parking lot will burn a few more calories. You can usually park in the same place and you'll never "lose" your car again. Your doors won't get dinged as often, either.

Stop using the drive-up window at the bank. Wash your own car and save a few bucks per week. At work, use the rest room that's farthest away from your desk.

If you take a few moments to review your daily routine you'll find even more ways to use up calories. Some of these Minirobics burn just 5 or 10 extra calories but that's enough to affect your long-term health. When you use 10 calories a day more than you take in you'll lose about one pound per year. That doesn't sound like much but that's what the average American gains each year between graduating from high school and cashing that first Social Security check.

Philip J. Goscienski, M.D. is the author of Health Secrets of the Stone Age, Better Life Publishers 2005. Contact him at drphil@stoneagedoc.com.