“Recent research suggests that activities you’d never think of as exercise, like running errands and cleaning the bathroom, still have longevity perks.” – TIME Magazine, December 10, 2018
Gee, who knew there was an upside to scrubbing shower tiles infected with mildewed grout and scouring toilet bowls crawling with bubonic scudge? Nifty. Unfortunately, TIME’s list doesn’t include activities for those older folks, like the author, who really want to minimize physical exertion while expending calories. Here are a few that have worked well for me:
Rapid Eye Blinking (REB): The average person blinks about 15-20 times per minute. You can easily double or triple that frequency without coming close to breaking a sweat, and the caloric payoff is impressive. Blinking 50 times a minute for a half-hour is worth about 700 calories, and it’s a great tone-up for the eyelid muscles. If you thicken your eyelashes with mascara (don’t be shy, gentlemen), you’ll reap even bigger rewards, since every blink will require slightly more effort, but not enough to annoy you. Caution: Do not engage in REB while driving at high speeds in heavy traffic on the interstate. Trust me on this, and trust the $4700 bill I just paid for front-end repairs on my Prius.
Talking Back to the TV: The simple act of staring at your television set produces few health benefits, but yelling at the commentators on Fox News or MSNBC is a proven calorie-burner, and is cathartic as well. It’s true that gesturing wildly and screaming “What the F___K has he done NOW?” could raise your blood pressure in the short run, but the calories you’ll shed while doing this are gone forever. Head-butting the screen can also be satisfying, but always wear safety goggles and a high-impact headband, and don’t charge the screen from more than 10 feet away.
Chewing: One of the most underrated forms of everyday exercise. Bubble gum is the way to go here, since the bubble-blowing process gives the tongue a great workout, but any kind of chewing is worthwhile. Of course, the more vigorously you masticate, the better. Beef jerky is good for this purpose, as are stale baguettes from your local bakery (don’t slice them, just start gnawing at either end). The calories you ingest will be more than offset by those you work off during consumption. Also, you’ll develop a set of well-sculpted cheekbones and a firm jawline that will be the envy of your friends who have spent thousands on Botox treatments and face-ironing. Hint: Whenever you eat, make sure to chew until the substance in your mouth totally liquefies or becomes a fine powder. This is the Ultimate Chew Workout, recommended by certified fitness trainers in the United States and Europe. You know you’re doing it right if you’re grinding your molars down to the nerves.
Cultivating Your Nasal Hair: It’s a fact: As the hairs in your nose accumulate, you have to expend more energy in order to breathe through your nostrils. So, stop trimming those bristles and lose some weight. Of course, you can achieve the same effect by inserting a variety of objects into your nasal passages: corks from wine bottles, cotton balls, silicone ear plugs, even compressed wads of string cheese. No cheating, though: Don’t start breathing through your mouth. On the other hand, don’t block your nostrils to the extent that you lose consciousness. It only take six minutes or so for an oxygen-deprived brain to suffer irreversible damage, and most of us don’t have a lot of spare IQ points to play with.
Flatulating: This is a terrific, but stigmatized, calorie-burner that is best done alone. Yes, farting is gross, but it’s so damn convenient, especially for senior citizens, who are heading towards 24-hours-a-day gas-passing in any event. Why fight it? This is also one of the few exercises that you can engage in while asleep, which is a big plus. Hint: Eat a generous bowl of refried beans immediately before retiring in the evening and then leave the bedroom window open. And, whatever you do, don’t light any candles.
It’s time to get in shape. You can do this.