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Published: Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Change your mindset about cleaning and boost your fitness

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Every day I come across reminders of the powerful connection between the mind and the body. There is a reason phrases like "keep your head in the game" are used so often. If you have been struggling to overcome a stumbling block in your health journey I highly suggest you make sure your mind and your body are working together. A simple shift in thinking can be just the thing to set you back on track.

A while back a radio station I enjoy ran a short for-your-health type promo highlighting the power of perspective. Though it repeated regularly the content continued to hold my attention. The short segment went a little something like this:

An organization conducted a study of hotel housekeeping staff. The first, or control, group was asked to go about their job and daily life as normal. The second, or test, group was given a presentation that explained ways their housekeeping tasks corresponded to specific gym equipment. For instance, the reaching and pulling motion of vacuuming was similar to using a rowing machine. Following the presentation the second group was also asked to resume work and life as usual. Participants were instructed not to make any dietary or lifestyle changes during the course of the experiment.

A few weeks later the researchers checked in with their subjects. The results were very intriguing. Among the control group there were no changes. However, the members of the test group lost inches in the circumference of their arms and waists (maybe legs too, I can't recall). The researchers attributed the changes to a shift to the group's attitude toward their regular work activities.

When the test group learned how their actions might be beneficial to their physical health it put them in a different state of mind. Armed with this new perspective they approached their usual tasks with greater enthusiasm and purpose. In relatively little time, these tiny shifts added up to real results.

Did you catch that? Strictly speaking, nothing changed except their attitude BUT, once they shifted their attitude everything changed. Isn't that so exciting?

How often do you feel that your life is so demanding you couldn't possibly make improvements to your health? How many times have you said you are too busy, too tired, or too overwhelmed to take on any new activities?

Thanks to the repetition of this radio segment, my approach to housework is now completely different. Thanks to my messy life, I get to put my reframed thinking into action on a daily basis. I choose to move with purpose while trying to make order out of the chaos. I see every piece of clutter on the floor as an opportunity to fit in a squat and every cobweb as a chance to stretch a little further. I pull in my core muscles and lunge a bit with each push and pull of the vacuum or broom. Heavier objects provide an opportunity to do some overhead presses or tricep curls and when the carpet is finally visible again, I drop and do twenty (okay, maybe ten).

Life is busy and for many it is hard to find the time to fit in daily exercise. However, with a little reframing you may discover you are already going through the motions, it is your brain that hasn't sprung into action.

Tips to turn your cleaning into a Houseworkout:

  • Keep your core muscles pulled in and your glutes pulled up the entire time you are cleaning.
  • Move with purpose – Don’t shuffle around while you are picking up a room, squat down and pop back up then lunge or move quickly to put items away.
  • Make a separate trip for each item or small groups of items that need to go to other parts of the house.
  • If you have stairs, try to add in a few extra trips up and down.
  • If your cleaning is up high or down low try to stretch a little farther or squat down and pop back up while you are working.
  • Make it a game, use a timer and keep moving until it beeps or create a playlist and clean until the music stops.
  • Clip on a pedometer and don’t stop until you reach a predetermined number of steps.
Extra Credit: Amp up your houseworkout with repetitions of lunges, push-ups, shadow boxing, or any other simple exercises.

Story tags » Fitness

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