What Really Counts as Exercise?

Juzant/Digital Vision/Getty ImagesJuzant/Digital Vision/Getty ImagesRegular life often feels like a workout - but does it count toward the 30 minutes of physical activity you're supposed to get each day to ward off weight gain and heart disease? Sometimes! The facts, from Robert Stoner, president of the American Health and Fitness Association.

Carrying your baby: It's not exercise.
It may leave your arms sore, but hoisting a baby or even a toddler doesn't rate as a workout in the health sense because it doesn't engage your cardiovascular system. What's more, studies show that women carrying things slow down, which prevents you from burning as many fat calories as you would walking solo or pushing a stroller briskly for 20 minutes.

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Dashing up and down the stairs: It's exercise!
Stair workouts slash more calories than walking does - up to 100 calories in 15 minutes. So making 10 trips up and down between floors of your house counts as at least part of your daily workout requirement.

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Shoveling snow: It's exercise!
Bust out the boots and shovels! Clearing away snow from your driveway burns more calories than some gym workouts - 215 per half hour. But it can also cause injuries.

Having sex: It's not exercise.

Unless you're trying out the Kama Sutra, getting it on doesn't raise your heart rate and burns only about 50 calories per half hour. But of course, it has other benefits....

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Shopping at the mall: It's exercise!
Oh, yeah! Mall walking, even when interrupted by browsing, adds up to a surprisingly solid exercise session. You'll burn 100 calories per half hour.

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Trying on a dozen outfits: It's exercise!
There's a reason fitting rooms (or just trying to pick out the perfect big-day-at-work outfit) make you sweat: You're doing leg lifts and arm stretches and walking in place, and eliminating about 100 calories per half hour.

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Cleaning the house: It's exercise!
Doing some light cleaning, like dusting and changing the sheets, for a half hour burns about 90 calories. More intense tasks, like mopping the floor or washing the windows, burns up to 160 calories in 30 minutes.

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