Why Not Make Helping Neighbors a New Fitness Craze?

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Why not combine exercise with helping neighbors?

A snowstorm hit my neighborhood the other day. I'd recently agreed to be the house's "groundskeeper," which meant I got tasked with shoveling the ten or so inches of snow that covered the driveway.

I'd been cooped up in the house during the storm, so I was actually pretty happy to head outside. I shoveled for an hour or so, and I felt muscles in my arms and legs that I'd rarely used start to burn. By the time I finished shoveling, I was feeling the serotonin buzz I normally get from biking. Shoveling was, as it turned out, pretty good exercise. I was actually sorry to stop.

A few days later, a few friends and I got into a discussion about how hard it is to exercise. Going to gyms is pretty much the most annoying thing ever. And that's a big problem, since not exercising is so unhealthy. Less than 5 percent of adults are physically active for half an hour a day. Not exercising enough can bring about heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, bone and joint diseases, obesity and depression.

And yet, shoveling snow was easy. It didn't take much willpower because I wasn't shoveling for the exercise. I was shoveling because I needed to clear the driveway. Which makes sense: humans didn't evolve to go to gyms; we evolved to expend energy by dealing with daily chores. It hit me: what if, instead of paying the fitness industry to exercise, neighbors could just help each other with manual labor?

People shell out tons of money in gym memberships and classes to exert energy that benefits no one. Surely they're better off saving that money and putting the energy to practical use.

A neighborhood could have, say, a Facebook group where people could post things they needed help with. Then, people who wanted exercise could help them out. Win-win, no money or willpower necessary. Instead of making it about "helping people," it could be framed as a new fitness craze.

Anyway, that's all I've got: a simple idea. What do you think? Would people go for it? Have you tried something like that?