With the convenience of technology making us a more sedentary society than ever, getting enough daily exercise has never been more important. However, even with all the shortcuts that exist in the modern world, finding time to keep fit can still be difficult when you’re juggling a hectic work/family life.
With help from some of our favourite bloggers, we’ve put together a guide to increasing incidental exercise; those little day to day physical activities that could give you a health boost. It’s been proven that regular and short bursts of exercise can improve cardiovascular health, so ditch the technological conveniences for a moment, and take a look at our 10 ways to increase incidental exercise.
1. Dance like nobody’s watching
Whether you’re a samba wonder (or more of a blunder), introducing a little dancing to mundane household chores is a great way to get your heart pumping, boosting cardiovascular fitness.
As Georgina over at Fitcetera says, “a sure-fire way to rack up some exercise without even knowing it is to dance. Dancing is mood boosting in its own right, add to that the endorphins you’ll feel from the extra exercise and you’ll be happier and fitter in no time. It’s easy to build dancing into your daily routine simply by turning up the music while you cook. Make sure it’s a fast-paced song that will get you dancing round the kitchen and you’ll turn that 30 minute meal-prep into a 150+ calorie burn. Just don’t get too enthusiastic and burn your dinner along with those calories…”
2. Walk while you talk
How often is your mobile actually mobile? Rather than sitting still and chatting away next time you get a call, use the opportunity to have a walk around. Whether a 5 minute chat brings you on a stroll round the house, or a long overdue catch up takes you on an hour long trek, merging two activities is a great way to squeeze a little exercise into your day to day life.
3. See the funny side
We all know that laughter is the best medicine, but did you know that it could also have significant fitness benefits? Some studies have found that “the effects of laughter and exercise are very similar”, with heart rate after 10 minutes on a rowing machine being the equivalent of only 1 minute of laughter. Even pretending to laugh can be good for you, with the movements helping to exercise and tone stomach muscles.
4. Ditch the car
We’re not suggesting you should set off on a 10 mile round trek for a pint of milk, but next time you’re thinking about driving, consider whether your destination is walkable. As Lisa McManus over at The Wellness Coach says, simply reconsidering your parking habits could be enough of a change:
“Park at the far end of the car park – how often have you driven around the car park two to three times to get a parking space as close to the door as possible, as close to perhaps even the gym door, to then go inside and ‘walk’ for 30 minutes on a treadmill? Power walking from one end of a large carpark to the other counts towards your exercise for the day just as much as in a gym, bonus points if the carpark is multi-story and you park on the top level, taking the stairs two at a time on the way back up.”
5. Don’t wait around!
A great way to get your heart racing during the day is to add some exercise to typically stationary tasks. Dannii over at Hungry Healthy Happy says “my favourite way to fit in more exercise is to do a mini kitchen workout. Whilst I am waiting for a pan of water to boil, or waiting for some vegetables to cook, I do some squats and lunges in my kitchen. You could also do wall push-ups, jumping jacks and running on the spot. They can all be done in a small space and they don’t take much time.”
Similarly, Cat over at Outside Beauty Inside Health uses another part of her daily routine to get fit. “Make the most of the time you take to brush your teeth. Rather than standing still while brushing, why not brush your teeth while doing squats. Sparkly teeth and a toned bum – what more does a girl need!”
For those people who just can’t manage to keep still, whether you’re waiting in a queue, sat down, or even trying to get to sleep, we’ve got some good news. It’s been found that “fidgeters” can burn around 350 extra calories every day, making fidgeting a great and almost effortless way to get some extra exercise. If you’re in a job where you sit still for most of the day, try gently tapping and shifting your feet around while at your desk. If your colleagues complain, tell them they’re interrupting your workout.
7. Make the world your gym
Sometimes, boosting your day to day fitness requires looking for those little opportunities to squeeze in exercise. This is something that Lisa over at The Wellness Coach has got pinned down, viewing a trip to the shops as an opportunity to keep fit.
“At the supermarket carry a basket rather than taking a trolley – It forces you to walk upright rather than slouch over, at the same time your arms will get a strength workout and you will walk much faster around the supermarket, especially if you have 2L of coconut milk and sweet potatoes on your list! Set your basket down at each aisle, and squat to pick it back up, actively using muscles in your back and legs with good posture to become stronger and fitter.”
8. Skip the adverts
As Cat says, “skip the ads and work your abs!” Next time you’re watching television, rather than begrudgingly sitting or fast-forwarding through the adverts, get up and do some exercise. This could be skipping, jogging on the spot, or planking. “When an ad break comes on while you’re watching TV, drop to the floor and hold a plank for as long as you can!” Or if you usually use the ad break to make a cuppa, “while the kettle boils carry out some calf raises – you can even sneakily do these while at work!”
9. Don’t stress
Even the most chilled of us can give into stress every now and again. Next time you’re feeling the strain, use that negative energy to do something positive for yourself. The easiest – and most obvious – way to benefit from stress is with a stress ball. Not only is squeezing this therapeutic, it’s also a great little workout, as the repetitive squeezing can strengthen and tone your forearms.
10. Shock yourself
Perhaps the best way to get out of the habit of convenience is to make yourself aware of how much you are actually moving on a day to day basis. Invest in a pedometer, keeping it on from your first steps in the morning to just before you crawl into bed at evening, and make a note of how many steps you walk. According to the NHS, the average person takes around 3000 steps a day – falling far too short of the 10,000 a day target. Keep your pedometer on every day, and record your incidental exercise progress; you might be surprised at the motivation it can drum up.
If you struggle to find enough hours in the day, find yourself skipping that planned gym trip too often, or simply want to free yourself from the conveniences of the modern world, we hope we’ve given you a few ideas on keeping (and staying) fit. We think Lisa summed it up perfectly: “Exercise should be part of your daily lifestyle, not something you set one hour aside for each day, while you remain inactive the other 23 hours.” Now you know these simple tips and tricks, boosting the amount of daily exercise you do can be just a hop, skip, and a plank away.