What are some productive ways of getting exercise that I can do fairly often?
January 14, 2012 1:37 PM   Subscribe

What are some productive ways of getting exercise that I can do fairly often? I'm thinking things like shoveling snow, chopping wood, scrubbing floors, etc. Difficulty: I live in a hundred square foot basement suite.

I find that I'm a lot more motivated when I find some value to my exercise as opposed to running in place or in circles around a track. It seems wasteful to put all this energy in with not much gained (except my own health, of course).

Things that I've thought of: breadmaking, the things above the fold, and other domestic chores.

The problem is that as someone living alone in a tiny space I don't eat enough bread to make it more than every few weeks, I don't have a driveway or woodburning fireplace, etc. etc.

Do you have any suggestions for things that I can do which will be
a) fairly strenuous/energetic
b) of some value to someone somewhere (it doesn't have to be me)
c) can be performed with some frequency (2-3+ times a week)?

My schedule is very variable so something that requires regularity, like volunteering, might be hard to fit in, but I can always try.

Thanks very much in advance for any ideas!
posted by daelin to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Find someplace that takes donations in-kind (books, furniture, clothes) and help them unload their donation trucks.
posted by KathrynT at 1:42 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Walking or bicycling to places you would go anyway.
posted by maurreen at 2:05 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

The SPCA always welcomes volunteer dog walkers. Also, try reducing / eliminating your electric appliances and do those things by hand. It's quite a workout to get a fork going around a bowl as vigorously as needed to replace a mixer. Get a washboard and a pail for scrubbing laundry, etc.
posted by mmmcmmm at 2:06 PM on January 14, 2012

You say volunteering is iffy because of your irregular schedule, but how about helping to shovel out seniors after a storm? Or making grocery runs, or random shifts helping pack and move boxes at the food shelf?
posted by vers at 2:09 PM on January 14, 2012

You can wash your clothes by hand in a sink or tub.
posted by vegartanipla at 2:23 PM on January 14, 2012

Shovelglove is an exercise that mimics those types of activities. I found it quite a bit more fun than traditional forms of exercise (though it depends on your imagination.) It might not be exactly what you're after, but it can keep you in shape between those snowstorms where you actually get to shovel snow.

This also might be out in left field, but recently I've been getting my exercise via medieval longsword classes. it looks like there's a place in Vancouver that does some training. My classes manage to be somewhat strenuous without being too competitive.
posted by Wulfhere at 2:42 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Perform an outdoor exercise for which you can be sponsored or an event that offers a charity benefit. Walk-a-thons, a charity 5k, etc.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:02 PM on January 14, 2012

Hindu Squats

Hindu Pushups

Perfect for small spaces and bodacious workouts
posted by ryanpoly at 3:02 PM on January 14, 2012

When I volunteered at a food bank, lifting boxes of canned goods provided quite a workout.

Habitat For Humanity construction (especially in the beginning stages) would be physically challenging.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:46 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can do some roadside cleanup (walk along and pick up litter, basically). Remember to wear gloves, some of that stuff is really yucky.
posted by anaelith at 3:48 PM on January 14, 2012

I found muscles places I didn't know I had them, AND actually lost a noticeable amount of weight (unintentionally) the week I helped a friend move house. Ask around your circle of friends and acquaintances, and if anyone is moving, jump in to give them a hand. Carrying and lifting is a good workout, and they'll be grateful enough that you are banking favours for next time you need help with something.

If you don't have a large circle of acquaintances, or they don't move often, maybe habitat for humanity, or local women's shelters, or something have people who need help moving now and again.
posted by lollusc at 5:25 PM on January 14, 2012

I guarantee you there is someone one your block who would love it if you shovelled their driveway or front walk. If you're worried about not being able to do it consistently, don't offer up your services formally, but just randomly shovel in the neighbourhood when you feel so inclined. You will be the mystery do-gooder people wonder about!

Basically, by encouraging you to do this, I am hoping to manifest someone just like you to shovel my walk.
posted by looli at 6:34 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

You'd be a dream for some elderly neighbor. Can you mow a lawn or shovel or chop/carry wood for a neighbor.
posted by beccaj at 7:12 PM on January 14, 2012

Run short errands (1-2 miles) and bike slightly longer ones. A 20-minute run to the pharmacy or bank and back makes me triply happy for hitting the 3 Es: exercise, eco-friendly, and time-efficient (it only takes 10 minutes extra vs. driving, and yet it's 20 minutes of exercise--it's like adding an extra 10 minutes to the day!)
posted by drlith at 7:52 PM on January 14, 2012

Seconding riding a bike. Two months ago, I decided to break a sedentary streak by getting a new bike and riding it wherever I need to go. Unless I'm planning to drink or going to a very formal event, I take the bike, no excuses. In that time, I've lost several kilos and improved my fitness so much that I no longer bother wearing workout clothes for city rides - I don't need to, because I barely break a sweat.

Most weeks I ride at least 50km, and that's just from my commute to work, grocery shopping and general errands. Last week I did a few extra fitness rides and made it to 100km, and it really wasn't a big deal. I get an extra calf workout by bringing heavy groceries home in my panniers. If you have small kids, you could even consider a cargo bike, so you can take them along for the ride.
posted by embrangled at 7:53 PM on January 14, 2012

Best answer: I don't know if this applies to your area, but where I live there are a couple of groups that do invasive species removal in natural areas. It's volunteer work but irregular, not weekly just when a big team is needed to tackle something. It's pretty strenuous and dirty, but definitely beneficial.

Perhaps there is something of the sort where you live. Your local botanic garden, university or gov't natural area management people should be able to point you to it.
posted by abirdinthehand at 10:08 PM on January 14, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great advice everyone! I ended up finding an invasive species removal group that allows people to just drop-in once a week or so, and it was tons of fun and a great workout too. All the other suggestions were really helpful too, and I may look into getting a bike/helping my neighbours/etc. etc. in the future.
posted by daelin at 3:03 AM on February 5, 2012

Daelin, that's brilliant! Well sorted. :-)
posted by KathrynT at 12:12 PM on February 5, 2012

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