Is Moving Really Exercise?

Written by on June 18, 2012 in Learning to Breathe - 2 Comments

Ah, moving house: everyone’s favorite activity to avoid at all costs. Don’t get me wrong, moving house is definitely something that occasionally needs to be done (especially when it can’t be avoided). Families grow and need more space and London rents just go from high to higher, so sometimes we need to say “goodbye” to one place and “hello” to another. Sometimes we just need to shop around for a better rental deal or move into a flat that is more modern, in better shape, less expensive, or just plain bigger. Moving house, unfortunately, is a necessary evil.

Some of us (though not me yet) may be lucky enough to buy or own a place that we can live in forever (as my little one likes to say) – well, almost forever anyway. But for the rest of us, for the time being at least, moving is just a necessary evil. So all we can do is just make the best of it.

Well, luckily for me, I managed to find a perfect silver lining from within the whole moving ordeal: it happens to be a terrific workout!

“Moving, a workout?” You ask dubiously. Is moving really exercise? Well, not if you let the movers do all the work of course it’s not! But if you get personally and physically involved in your move, it can be the best free workout you’ll ever get (especially if you generally avoid any kind of workout like the plague). And, for an added bonus: the more of the move you do yourself, the less you’ll need to pay the moving crew. So getting personally and physically involved in your move not only helps to get you fit, but saves you money too! Now that’s getting the best out of your move.


All you need to do is just follow my five simple steps towards an exercise-filled move and enjoy your free workout! I promise the endorphins you get from the exercise will even make you feel better about the whole moving thing.
1. Do most of the packing yourself

  • There are many things you can pack on your own, including anything and everything at all private or personal and all clothing, towels, and even books. Doing most of the packing yourself will cut the movers’ fee in half immediately, just as long as you mention this when they come in for the consultation as otherwise they’ll include packing in the quote.
  • Just leave the kitchen, dishes, electronics, and anything that can break to the moving guys. Most movers already include a basic insurance in the quote so make sure they take care of anything that could be damaged as otherwise the insurance won’t cover it.
  • Setting up boxes and packing them is a great light workout for your arm muscles. Just be sure to use both arms to ensure the workout is even-sided. And reaching for those books and things on higher shelves is an excellent stretch and almost isometric workout. If the books are heavy, that’s even better as it’s kind of like using weights. Your muscles may even feel it a bit the following morning. Just make sure to stretch and bend occasionally so that your back doesn’t hate you too much the day after.

2. Lift and carry the lighter things yourself.

  • During a move, the one thing that is a necessity is the pile of boxes. There are generally many, many boxes involved. And even the lightest, furniture-free moves (if one’s been living in a furnished apartment) cannot avoid that consequential box pile. But this no longer needs to be an annoyance. It now can be a useful addition to the “Moving Workout”.
  • All you need to do is lift and move, lift and move, lift and move. That’s right. Use both arms, bend your knees carefully, and let your full body enjoy the workout that is involved. Use caution with heavier boxes and don’t lift more than your back can handle. But do challenge your muscles a bit.
  • You can stack boxes on boxes and then restack again if you get into it and feel like some additional exercise. Include some stretches and isometrics in between and your muscles will thank you.

3. Take the stairs

  • Whether we move to a multi-floor house or a flat in a building, there are generally at least some stairs involved. Don’t avoid them. Instead, add them to your workout. And if you can manage to carry some lighter boxes or bags up those stairs using both arms equally, then the workout even becomes a full-body one!
  • The “Stairmaster” was, at one point, one of the most popular aerobic exercise machines at the gym. Not only does it work out the important leg muscles, but it tones the glutes (giving you a much nicer and firmer behind), and is a good aerobic workout if done at a decent pace. Actually climbing real stairs, rather than the Stairmaster, makes that workout even better. And you don’t need to get to a gym to use the stairs.
  • Most people lazily choose to use building lifts rather than taking the stairs. Don’t be one of them. Taking the stairs (especially if you live high up) may make you feel quite winded and short of breath at first, but if you make it a regular habit, you will see just how good it is for you by how well your heart and lungs adapt over time: proof of just how important a regular workout is to your overall health. After all, the better your heart and lungs can handle moderate exercise, the better your entire body can deal with whatever is in store for it throughout your normal day and any emergency situations. Plus, it’s just better for your overall health; so don’t skimp on the stairs.

4. Walking and cycling: an easy aerobic addition to your day

  • In this current rainy climate, it’s often easy to choose to take a car, taxi, bus, or tube instead of using our legs to get us places. But walking (at a brisk pace) and cycling are two fantastic aerobic workouts that can easily be a usual part of our day, just as taking the stairs should be.
  • If traveling greater distances, cycling may be the easier method. If you have access to a cargo bike (pictured above) or can borrow or rent one (look up for the one above), this can be an integral part of your move. I managed to move quite a few boxes and bags using mine. But even a normal bike with a basket and/or rack can be used to move quite a few things, especially over a few trips. Even the Barclays bikes one can hire throughout Central London and around can be used to help move things. The front basket isn’t huge, but can fit some smaller bags and one can cycle with a backpack on to add to the workout and to transport several things that way.
  • For those who prefer to walk, even if the move is from one end of London (or somewhere else) to another, you can incorporate walking into the overall move between locations by starting from a further station or walking to a later connecting bus rather than taking another bus there. Or, if taking a car, park the car further away from where you’re going to give you more chance to walk (often a necessity anyway with the difficulty of finding parking in London). Maybe even grab a box or some bags with you during the walk to make the aerobic workout into a full-body one, and you’ll be fitter in no time!

5. Make exercise a usual part of your daily routine

  • Making the move into an opportunity to exercise is a great way to make the difficult situation into one that serves a greater purpose, but maintaining that fitness level on a regular basis is even more important. So keep on using the free opportunities available in each of our lives to keep fit. There are plenty available for anyone at any time if we just search them out.
  • The idea, of course, is that working out doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult, but could be something available to us in our usual day. It is also very, very important for us to maintain a regular level of exercise: not just because we want to look good, but also because our overall health depends on this. Our heart and our lungs need to be exercised regularly to remain in good working order. Regular aerobic exercise of some kind is hence needed to keep them working optimally. Taking a jog, cycling, walking briskly, climbing stairs, swimming, or even dancing around our livingroom are all ways to give our bodies that much-needed exercise. Even muscle toning and stretching can easily be a normal part of our daily routine. Doing 50 crunches a day takes no more than a few minutes and will help to tone our abs. Lifting a few heavy books with both arms, changing books and arms to ensure an even workout, is an easy way to keep our important arm muscles toned. Or we can do some press-ups or push-ups.
  • The point is that maintaining a decent fitness level doesn’t necessarily require too much time or even a gym (something that often puts people off). We can easily add a few minutes and a short workout to our usual daily routine. And we can stay more fit just by making a conscious decision to take advantage of exercise rather than taking the easy way out. Adding a short cycle or walk to our daily commute is an easy way to get more exercise without putting in too much time or work. And taking the stairs rather than the lift should be a norm. We can even make our daily commute faster by walking up and down the escalators rather than just standing there.

The opportunities for exercise are there in our everyday routines already. All we need to do is take advantage of them! Our hearts, lungs, and bodies will thank us and reward us by giving us better health. And there are few things as important as our health!

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2 Comments on "Is Moving Really Exercise?"

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