Should You Workout (Pt. 3)…After An Active Day

Working in the garden

Is a busy, physically active day as good as a workout?

I’m going to give you two answers. And just to spoil the surprise, they are “yes” and “no.”

The “Yes”

There’s a study that showed if you take normal, mundane activities and think of them as exercise, you get more physical benefits from it.

In other words, you’ll burn more calories when you mow the lawn, clean the house, rearrange furniture, etc. if you consciously consider these activities to be exercise.

You don’t have to change anything about how you perform the tasks. It’s simply a mindset.

Even if you don’t have this mindset, though, a day that has you on your feet more than normal is better for you than being sedentary. There’s no doubt about that.

In modern culture, we tend to err on the side of being too inactive.

If you have a day that bucks that trend, count it as a win.

Count it as a workout.

A common mistake is thinking you have to do more than you really do to get in shape. It doesn’t take much. Often the best way to get started is by doing one little thing every day to be more active.

If you can manage 3-5 days a week where you include extra activity, that might be exactly where you need to start for your workouts.

Today you went to the zoo and walked 5 miles. Go ahead and count it as a workout – no need to do anything else today – but take the next step and plan at least two more long walks this week.

The “No”

When is a busy, physically active day not as good as a workout?

In modern culture, we tend to err on the side of being too inactive.

That’s not a typo.

I meant to say it again.

When you have an active day, you’re probably only getting in what you should be doing to begin with.

Think of it like saving money: The normal sitting around we do most of the day puts us at a negative balance. If you have a day that requires some physical labor, you’re getting yourself up to zero.

Zero is better than a negative balance, but you never get ahead.

Eventually your body is going to incur some fees (age, injury, illness, etc.) and you want to be ready when that happens.

Working out is how you get ahead.

If you replace your workout with an active day, you’re short changing yourself.

There are times when moving your workout to another day is a good idea (e.g. you ran a marathon, or had an all day basketball tournament). But don’t replace it altogether.

That way you’ll be improving your health and reaching your goals. Plus, the next time you have a physically tough day, it’ll be less taxing on your body, and you might not feel like you need to skip your workout.

The Short Answer

Should you workout if you’ve had an active day? It depends upon the activity and your current level of fitness. But here’s the breakdown from this article:

  • If you’re just starting out, an active day is sometimes all you need to start improving your health.

  • Once you’re not a total newbie to exercise, don’t skip your workout.

  • Whether you’re a beginner or not, if you were planning on working out, an active day doesn’t have to stop you. But it’s also fine to rearrange your workout for the next day if your program is flexible like that.

If you’d like a more specific answer to a specific question, feel free to contact me and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

I create individualized workout and nutrition programs for people and help every step of the way. I also give out fitness and nutrition resources on a regular basis through my newsletter – sign up below.

Read Part 1 of this series, Should You Workout When You're Sick, and Part 2 of this series, Should You Workout When You're Hurt

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