Staying active without exercise

If you hate running, if you're not interested in joining a gym and if you don't even know how to ride a bike, I've got some great news and even some simple exercise tips for you today: Exercise doesn't have to be exercise.

Not in the traditional sense, anyway.

Exercise can come in the form of the things you already love and some of the things you have to do anyway -- including washing the car, working in your garden, taking up a do-it-yourself project or finally fixing up all the little things in your home you've been meaning to get to.

As long as it gets you moving and gets your heart beating a little faster, it counts -- and new research is turning out easy exercise tips showing how these everyday activities could be as healthy as a gym habit, at least for seniors.

Keep active -- whether it's with exercise in a gym or chores around the house -- and your risk of death from heart attack and stroke will drop by 27 percent. Staying active either way will also slash your risk of death from all causes by 30 percent, according to the study of more than 4,000 seniors tracked for more than a dozen years.

In many ways, seniors who exercise and seniors who stay active through chores and other habits enjoy almost identical health benefits. They have slimmer waistlines, lower cholesterol levels and better blood sugar control than seniors who turn into couch potatoes, according to the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

This is great news for seniors, who often have a hard time getting traditional exercise -- and it shows how even the things you do around your house and in your yard can play a role in your overall health.

But if you're a younger adult, here are some exercise tips for you. Don't rely on washing the car or working in the garden for all the movement you need -- you have to get your exercise, too.

I'll have more on the importance of daily activity on Sunday in my Weekend Roundup, including some tips on how to beat two common cancers with just a little more movement each day.

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