We all live busy lives and it can be difficult to carve out time to exercise each day.
For those times when you can’t squeeze in a workout, making an effort to increase your incidental exercise can be helpful.
You don’t have to do vigorous physical activity every day to reap the benefits of exercising.
Consistency is one of the most important parts of an active lifestyle, and regular exercise several times a week is more beneficial than an intense workout once every two weeks. This is where incidental physical activity comes in.
Incidental exercise can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the escalator or jumping off the bus one stop early to increase your walk home. To help inspire you, we’ve compiled a list of 10 ways to include more incidental exercise in your day.
Let’s dive in.
How much exercise should I be doing?
According to the Australian Department of Health, adults should be active most days, preferably every day. Each week, adults should aim to achieve:
- 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity — such as a brisk walk, golf, mowing the lawn or swimming
- 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity physical activity — such as jogging, aerobics, fast cycling, soccer or netball or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities.
NOTE: Not all exercise needs to be structured. If you increase your incidental activity throughout your day, you will more likely continue with it.
What if I just don’t like exercise?
We totally get it — not everyone likes to exercise. You may have had a negative experience in the past or struggled with staying consistent with it, so have just thrown it in altogether. The last thing we want is for you to feel like it is a chore.
Exercise/movement has many benefits to your health beyond physical and should be a part of our everyday lives, not a temporary program.
Rather than forcing yourself to do a planned exercise routine you dread or dragging yourself to the gym, start by increasing your daily movement whilst you figure out what brings you joy!
The benefits of exercise
Exercise is super important for your overall health and knowing the benefits serves as a good reminder as to why you should try to move your body every day. The health benefits of exercise include:
- Reducing the risk of heart disease
- Helps reduce stress
- Stronger bones, muscles and joints
- Boosts mood
- Strengthens lungs
- Better digestion and metabolism
Where do I start?
If you are building a new exercise routine, start by looking at your schedule and making time for it — book it in just like any other appointment or meeting you have.
When it comes to building new habits around exercise, starting small leads to big results later. If you hardly do any exercise at the moment, try once a week to start with.
Feeling unmotivated? Do your best to get out of the door for five minutes or get dressed for it even when you don’t feel like doing a whole workout. The first step is always the hardest!
So tips to get you started:
- Leave your exercise gear at the end of the bed for the next day.
- Working from home? Wear your activewear so that you are ready to go.
- Build up your frequency or duration gradually. There is no need to feel like you need to finish an entire workout!
If you have more time:
- Aim for 30 minutes of movement daily like walking or an at-home exercise video.
- Find something unconventional you might enjoy: this could be a dance class, martial arts or joining a team sport.
- Find yourself an exercise partner/buddy who can help you stay accountable.
Ways to increase incidental exercise
There are many ways to increase your incidental physical activity and most of them are easy enough to incorporate into your daily routine. Here are 10 ways to inject some more incidental exercise into your day:
- Walk or ride your bike instead of driving
- Walk to the park to eat lunch
- Schedule walking meetings
- Take the stairs where possible
- Park further away
- Dance around the house to your favourite songs
- Get off the bus a few stops earlier
- Carry fewer bags from the car after shopping (which means more back and forth trips)
- Try gardening
- Pick a fun new activity like rollerblading, cycling or ice skating
What if I miss a workout?
Busy with life, getting caught up with other priorities or simply feeling under the weather? Do your best to do some light activity or fit it in incidentally.
- 15 min walk (with the dog or your family)
- Light stretching or yoga
- Try a 10-minute skipping rope workout
Missing a workout is part of life — you can always get moving again the next day!
Photo credit: 20th Television