Kitchen confidential: see the kitchen in a new light
What do you do in the kitchen? You cook of course, and stock the cupboards, and wash dishes and put them away… and then you do it all over again. Sheesh, sure sounds like a lot work. But then again, like so many things in our lives, what we consider “work” depends on how we look at it.
Case in point: walk into your kitchen or, if you’re not at home right now, just picture it in your mind – and look around. Think about turning on your favourite upbeat music or hear the song in your mind. Now, rather than seeing the kitchen as a workspace, let’s flip the script. Consider its potential to be a place where we can get our bodies moving.
This is an easy and time-effective way to infuse physical activity into our day. Use your imagination to come up with other ideas and check out our suggestions below.
1. Dance break
Take a break from doing the dishes, turn up the tunes and treat your kitchen floor like a dance floor. Don’t be shy – no one’s watching. Think of the benefits of this movement: if you get your heart beating faster for at least 10 minutes, it counts toward the 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) you need per week.
Look down and what do you see? If you have a tile floor then you’ve got hopscotch, and if you have kids, this could be a great rainy-day activity – it’s more fun and a healthier way to spend the day than sitting in front of a screen. Tell them to imagine the numbers laid out (doesn’t have to be perfect) and just start hopping—one foot or two or interchange—set a goal to keep your feet inside the squares. If your toes touch the edges, start over. For those of us who don’t have tile floors, we can delineate the squares with all sorts of things like boxes of cereal or rolled up dish towels.
3. Steps with step ladders
You know those risers (also called steps) that are sometimes used in fitness classes? You probably have your very own version in the form of a step ladder for those Mt. Everest-high kitchen cupboards. Why not do a few extra steps – up, up, down, down – as you put away groceries?
4. Curls with cans
Spaghetti on the menu? Chickpeas in your future? Grab two 28-oz (796 ml) cans from your grocery bag or cupboard and do a few bicep curls. While our biceps are the primary target of these curls, other muscles are also activated including brachialis (located under your bicep) and the brachioradialis (located in your forearm).
5. Sauce squats
While you still have those cans in your hands… try some squats – great for building muscle in our glutes. Best results come from frequency and intensity so consider three sets per exercise and vary the number of reps from five to 15.
6. Stretch, everywhere
Now it’s time to stretch. Walls, tables, even fringe handles all offer good hand holds and leverage for leg and arm stretches. Think of the counter like a ballet barre. You can also place the heel of one foot on a secured kitchen chair, with the other foot on the ground, and lean forward for a nice hamstring stretch.
So, the next time you step into the kitchen to unpack groceries or do the dishes or cook, you may find yourself smiling knowingly as you consider all the opportunities for fun and fitness, just waiting to be unleashed.