Is Car-Dancing Exercise?
January 10, 2008 2:48 PM   Subscribe

Is there any exercise/fitness benefit to car-dancing?

I have a two-hour round trip to work daily, and generally listen to music and dance (or, perhaps more accurately, bounce) along as I drive. I don't think I get any cardio benefit since it doesn't get me out of breath at all, but am wondering if there's any meaningful health benefit at all. I'm sure rhythmically squeezing my thigh muscles burns some calories, but does it burn enough to make any kind of difference to my health and/or fitness?
posted by joannemerriam to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Anything that burns calories or moves muscles has a conceivable health benefit, although what you're talking about is probably very, very meager, and perhaps offset if you eat more because you're hungry later.

If you want to work out in a car while driving and not kill yourself driving off the road, I'd recommend some kind of squeezeable device to work on hand and forearm strength.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:00 PM on January 10, 2008

If fidgeting counts, why not car-bopping? I chew gum briskly when I power-walk just to tip me over the performance edge. *serious face*
posted by cairnish at 3:19 PM on January 10, 2008

Well, you can certainly throw in some Kegel exercises pretty easily.
posted by desuetude at 3:24 PM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

Well don't know if this answers your question, but I remember reading an article a few years back about how fidgety people would lose a couple of pounds over the course of a year simply because they were moving around so much. So perhaps in the long run, you might lose a few pounds but, that's about it.

You could turn it into somewhat more of an exercise regimen by purposely squeezing your thigs harder or for extended periods of time perhaps.
posted by bitteroldman at 3:43 PM on January 10, 2008

it surely can't hurt, although i doubt you could sustain enough activity to get your heart up -and- drive safely. incorporate some ab-clenching into your routine, and your waist might shrink a bit.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:41 PM on January 10, 2008

I recall the same study, and I seem to recall the article referring to fidgeting as non-exercise movements, or something like that. As in, they burn calories, but they never go far enough to stress the muscles or the cardio-pulmonary system, so the body doesn't bother to repair/build/strengthen anything. So it burns some of the food you ate, but otherwise is pretty neutral. I remember this because I fidget constantly and was disappointed that it wasn't making me stronger.
posted by agentofselection at 5:22 PM on January 10, 2008

Best answer: Don't discount the mental fitness benefit. It may just be a placebo effect, but the less sluggishly sedentary and more on-the-go (in an upbeat, not nervous way) I am, the better my attitude, emotional stamina, and sense of general well-being. As long as you're paying attention to your driving, bopping and singing and being in motion is probably a great way to fight off the ennui and stress and pissiness of commuting, and that certainly can only help your immune system and longterm outlook.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:02 PM on January 10, 2008

You might turn your attention to doing yogic circle breathing for part of the time. True deep breathing brings many benefits.

Also, Kegels.
posted by Riverine at 7:19 PM on January 10, 2008

Indeed, there's some scientific evidence behind FelliniBlank's intuition. Believing that you're getting exercise seems to be as important as the exercise itself!

Hotel Maids Challenge the Placebo Effect
posted by brain at 8:12 PM on January 10, 2008

I strongly believe that wiggling and fidgeting can reduce blood pressure, based on my own direct experience.
posted by Goofyy at 10:18 PM on January 10, 2008

As an alternative, if getting a benefit is your primary goal, perhaps you should park your car a little further away from your destination on both ends; essentially acknowledge that you're spending a lot of time sedentary from the drive, and so forcing yourself into a little extra exercise to compensate.

I suggest this because when I was in high school (and 6'1", 129 lbs and incapable of putting on weight no matter what I did) I spend a week driving a ridiculous distance for job training. In the course of that week, I put on ten pounds and got a little belly, and a few weeks after I stopped the drive the weight/belly went away. Simply put, idle time in the car just isn't good for your physical (or emotional) health, so as long as you're stuck doing it turn it into an active plan to provide yourself a daily walking period (four of them, in fact, each day.)
posted by davejay at 11:08 PM on January 10, 2008

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