Active Rest:

A surefire way to burn extra calories out of your fat cells is what I call "Active Rest."

One of the reasons America has gotten so much fatter over the past twenty years is that we no longer do the little day-to-day activities that are not officially considered "exercise" but go a long way in keeping us fit. Consider the difference between a normal working woman in 1955 versus one today. In 1955, she was likely to walk a quarter-mile to the bus stop, followed by another quarter-mile walk to her job located on the second or third floor in a building with no elevator. If she drove, she used a stick shift to change gears instead of driving a car with an automatic transmission, which hadn't been invented yet. Because she had no electric dishwasher, she did more work in the kitchen after each meal, not to mention the work she did preparing each meal. If she watched television, she had to get up and down from her chair to change channels because there was no such thing as a remote control. And on weekends, she was far more likely to do yard work than her 2000 counterpart, who is more likely to hire a yardman.

My point is not that you should give up all the conveniences in life. But by adding back into your daily routine some things that will get your body moving - by making yourself more "active" when you are at "rest" - you will be amazed at the results.

Some "Active Rest" Tips

Here are some ways to add "active rest" to your life for today:
    Park your car at the far end of the parking lot so that you will have to walk farther to get to your office.
    Take a flight of stairs every now and then, instead of the elevator or escalator.
    Find ways to move around in your office. Walk to the most distant water cooler rather than the one closest to your desk. Walk to the corner mailbox. Pace around your office when you're thinking. At the least, don't sit for more than an hour without getting up and stretching for a few minutes.
    If you are at home most of the day and there are stairs in your house, take a break every hour or two and climb them. Remember: As far as weight control is concerned, it's not how many flights you walk at one time, it's how many you walk over the course of the day.
    Mow your own yard. And when you do yard work, use manual tools (hand mowers, rakes, snow shovels) instead of power tools whenever you can without exhausting yourself or risking injury.
    When you have packages to unload from your car, take them into your house one at a time to increase the number of trips back and forth.
    Play outside with your kids five minutes longer than usual.
    Take your dog for a walk.
    Invest in a cordless phone so you can talk and walk at the same time. (Think about how many feet you could cover during a half-hour call!)
    Give up the remote control.

Are you getting the point? I've been around a lot of people who literally spend most of their lives molding and perfecting their bodies, spending thousands upon thousands of dollars with personal trainers. But the path to good fitness hardly requires such obsession. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, two doctors recently determined that the average person could improve their heart as well as a die-hard fitness buff by - are you ready for this? - simply climbing stairs for six minutes a day.

Other researchers say that basic routine activity - getting up, getting dressed, lifting things, putting them down, walking around, doing housework, making business deals, going out in the evening, and so forth - will burn 25 percent of your total calories and that's if you are only moderately active.

Larry North is President of Larry North Fitness. He may be contacted by phone at 214.526.6784 or via website at

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