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Published on June 24, 2015

Non-Exercise Physical Activity Can Help Nix Heart Disease

June 24, 2015

person walking a golden retrieverThink you have to pump iron or run laps to make your heart and body stronger? While regular exercise is the best option, don’t discount the benefits of non-exercise physical activity (NEPA).

New research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that NEPA can lower the risk of heart disease just as much as structured exercise.

The study followed 4,000 Swedish residents older than age 60. For 12.5 years, researchers reviewed the daily routines of participants. Those who maintained active lifestyles had a 27 percent lower risk of heart disease.

What’s NEPA?

NEPA is an activity that encourages movement throughout the day. Examples of NEPAs include:

  • Carrying a child for an extended period of time
  • Climbing the stairs
  • Doing yard work
  • Playing with your children or grandchildren
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Tidying the house with activities such as mopping, vacuuming, dusting or taking the garbage out
  • Walking the dog
  • Washing or repairing your car
  • Washing the dishes

Think Outside the Gym

While a treadmill and weights might help some people met their health goals, they might not be the best fit for you.

  • Cut out screen time. Whether your vice is scrolling through Facebook updates or wiling away the hours reading a book on your tablet, pull the plug on extra screen time when you can. Instead, try meeting up with a friend for a walk or listening to an audio book while you cook dinner or organize your home office.
  • Pencil in at least one active task a day. Clean your house for 30 minutes. Can’t do it all at once? Try tidying up for 15 minutes when you get up in the morning and 15 minutes when you get home from work. Have a rotating cleaning schedule so you never get bored, and as a bonus, your home will always be clean. If you’ve got a lot of clutter to clear out, have a spring cleaning day and get the whole family involved.
  • Think fun. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll be more likely to keep it up. Try hula hooping, ballroom dancing, hiking or ping-pong. Just be sure you clock at least 30 minutes of activity to count it as your daily workout.

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