I heard this story on NPR almost three weeks ago, and it’s still on my mind when I walk to work or up the gazillion (please note that spell check approved this word) steps in my apartment.
To boil it down — the premise is a Harvard study found that hotel maids who were engaging in grueling exercise cleaning and carrying blankets and sheets and walking down long hallways did not benefit from the exercise physically. Why not? Because they did not consider it exercise. In other words, you have to consciously think you’re exerting yourself in order to gain the physical benefits. When the researchers gave half of the maids information about how many calories they burned, they did, in fact, benefit physically from the change in mindset.
As someone who has run two marathons and has experienced the effects of extreme, prolonged exercise on the body — I lost an incredible amount of weight even though I was eating more calories — I am skeptical.
But despite my skepticism, it made an impression. And as I walk 20 min. to 30 min. a day on my commute, I’m starting to consider it exercise.