Friday, March 18, 2016


        Is it me?  I have a friend who just converted an upstairs bedroom into a laundry room so she won’t have to lug her unmentionables up and down two flights of stairs to get them country fresh.  Then, four to five times a week she gets into her car, leaving her kids home with her husband, and goes to a gym to work out on…you guessed it!…a stair climbing machine.  Seems to me carting laundry baskets up and down stairs would accomplish the same thing, perhaps more, since the weight would work on her upper body strength in addition to the workout her legs get from the climbing.

        Why not keep the money in a little college fund for the kids, leave the gas in the car and treat your family to some quality time.  That couple of hours selfishly spent at the gym could be spent in the kitchen with the hubby and kids sharing a low-fat meal.  Then pop in a load of laundry while heading out for a brisk family walk.  The kids can skate or ride bikes if they choose.  So can you for that matter. 

Exercise evokes images of calisthenics and step aerobics….Pfffft!  All you really have to do is keep moving for more than twenty minutes at a time. 

        We’ve created so many power devices for convenience, we’ve sent ourselves into energy overload which translates into stored energy which is FAT.

        I recently bought a manual lawnmower.  The man next door immediately assumed my gas mower wasn’t working properly and offered to check it out for me.  Honest, Russ, I was just looking for a two-fold workout, meaning, an hour later, along with my muscles being worked, my lawn was cut.  For under one hundred bucks you can have warm-weather workouts for years to come with your little grass cutter.  You’d spend a whole lot more than that sweating at the health club, and you’d have to figure out when you’d have time to do the lawn.   

        Before I became disabled, I used to join my kids when they played freeze tag.  Talk about a workout! Just try it out and see if you can keep up with them. 

        Instead of jogging try walking with the kids after dinner.  Or explore a nature trail or a beach if there’s one nearby.  Instead of driving to the Post Office, walk to the mail box.  Not the one at the end of your street.  Find one a healthy walking distance and go to it! 

        We spend a lot of time in gyms designed to simulate work that was second nature to our grandparents.  Manual labor is not indecent.  As a matter of fact, it’s healthy and very satisfying.  Sure you might break a nail scrubbing your floor instead of using a floor scrubber, but your abs will tone up! 

        If you can survive aerobics class wearing wrist and ankle weights you can sure mow the lawn with a manual mower or shovel snow rather than using a machine to blow it away. 

        Instead of tossing dirty dishes into the machine, scrub those pots by hand and get the kids to dry and put away while you tell them the jokes you heard at work, or get them to read to you.

        How many of you have a rowing machine sitting in your basement?  Do you use it?  Don’t lie.  Even if you do, it only seats one, right?  Why not take up canoeing, rafting or kayaking?  It’s more fun, can be done with the family or friends and beats staring at the basement wall or re-runs of Seinfeld. 

        Trade in electric or gas power for elbow grease! 

        Here are some suggestions for substitutions you can make:

  1. Instead of letting the dog out into the yard, grab a baggie and walk the wee beastie. You’ll both get some air and some exercise.
  2. Instead of a treadmill or even a track, try a nature trail, an inclined street, the beach.  Take the dog, the kids or offer to take a neighbor’s dog or kids as a favor. 
  3. Instead of using a stroller or coach constantly, try carrying the kids, switching arms a lot. 
  4. Instead of taking the car try your legs, a bike, blades, especially for any trip under 10 minutes by car.  Get a wagon or cart to lug groceries or recyclables.
  5. Instead of driving to the gym, try exercising at home.
  6. Instead of sophisticated, costly weight-lifting equipment, try milk jugs filled with sand or water or use a towel for resistance.
  7. Instead of aerobics class, memorize the steps and try exercising while watching TV, or play tag, races, or base runners with the kids.
  8. Instead of the skiing machine try skiing!  Snow ski in the winter and water ski in the summer.
  9. Instead of the rowing machine try a real boat.
  10. Instead of the riding mower try a manual mower, or at least a push mower.  And forget bag mowers. Start raking and sweeping.  Ditto on the power edger.  Get a manual one instead!
  11. Instead of a chain saw or power clippers try a manual saw, ax, pruning shears.
  12. Instead of the dishwasher try your hands.  Motion is motion.  Get the kids involved!  Talk to them! 
  13. Instead of vacuuming try sweeping or a damp cloth or a dust brush. Yes, some squatting or kneeling may be required…this is a good thing! 
  14. Instead of exercising in the pool try the ocean. 
  15. Instead of the floor scrubber try your hands and knees, then mop. 
  16. Instead of chemical cleaners try elbow grease.
  17. Instead of hiring a gardener try doing it yourself.  Ask a gardening friend who knows, or buy a book and learn.
  18. Instead of power tools try manual tools and elbow grease.
  19. Instead of the automatic carwash break out the hose and sponge.  While you’re at it, scrub down the deck and the porch furniture.  Get the kids to help, promising to squirt them once in awhile.  Have some fun!

    The added bonus in the savings from not using the power, buying memberships, and paying others to toil will be toned muscles, energy conservation, honest exhaustion rather than fatigue, less air pollution, more diversional workouts, pride in chores done personally, and most of all, time spent with your family who would otherwise be hanging out finding things to do while waiting for you to come home. 
    If you don’t have enough chores of your own to keep you busy, find an elderly person in your neighborhood and do some manual chores for them.  It’ll make you feel good, both physically and emotionally.
            It makes a whole lot more sense to keep fit doing real work than paying to use machines and take classes that simulate it for you.  

1 comment:

  1. You have plenty of great tips here, Terri! I always used a manual lawn mower. No stink or noise.