Getting exercise without working out

So you came here all excited that you can get all fit and healthy without lifting a finger, right? Well, I guess that’s not exactly the reaction that I was aiming for… and yet there is a tiny kernel of truth. You can get exercise without needing to dedicate yourself to 30 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training 3 times per week, and yes this exercise that I’m talking about is something that you can get without generally thinking about it. However, I should warn you that you aren’t going to lose weight without hard work and you won’t run that ½ marathon you’ve always wanted to do without training.

Let’s face facts, sitting on your derrière day in day out is literally killing you, slowly, and in some cases quite painfully. There is a ton of research out there that shows how inactivity can be linked to a whole plethora of common illnesses. Everything from lower back pain and sciatica to IBS and obesity induced type 2 diabetes. Now, I could dig around for hours to try and find you references to convince you about what I’m talking about… but I’m too lazy to do more than suggest you do a little self-study via Google Scholar. Instead, I’m  simply going to suggest some simple options to ensure that you can remain active during the day, for those times when working out isn’t really an option, such as when you have over trained, when nursing injuries, or on those hopefully rare occasions when you are genuinely unable to make the time due to other commitments. Each option is very low impact, should not need to work up a sweat, and more often than not can be performed as a part of doing something else so that you don’t even realise you are keeping active.

  • Use a standing desk
    • If you can, convince your boss to allow you to do this in your work place, and try to do the same if you use a desk at home.
    • You could end up working lot’s of small muscles in your body for more than 8 hours per day without even realising it!!
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator
    • I’m not suggesting you replace a 40-storey elevator ride with a stair trip!
    • Walking a flight of stairs or two is often faster than waiting for the elevator to arrive.
  • Walk on the escalator
    • Seriously, a staircase that moves for you isn’t really a staircase, and a slow walk up or down stairs won’t generally kill you. It could even contribute to saving your life!
  • Wash the dishes by hand
    • This is like the standing desk idea.  Anything that keeps you on your feet keeps your heart rate elevated above your resting rate, and you often dont’ save a lot of time if you only have one or two items to clean, rather than loading up the dishwasher.
    • You’ll probably end up saving water and energy also.
  • Walk around while talking on the telephone
    • Whether you are on your mobile, or using a cordless phone, it’s not too hard to get up and pace around the house, or walk into the garden.
    • If you’re at work or you don’t have a cordless phone, get one of those really long cords for the handset so that you can get up easily from your desk, and pace back and forth while you’re chatting.
  • Go for a stroll after your evening meals, or during your lunch breaks
    • Improves your digestive process after eating (Physical activity stimulates peristalsis)
    • Can be great companionable time with other family members or colleagues
    • Can help you to simply “kill time”, and get a health benefit while doing it
  • Visit a zoo, aquarium, gallery or art exhibition
    • Anywhere that you can visit that keeps you on your feet and moving while enjoying a gentle stroll
  • Visit a real bricks & mortar shop or a market place
    • Yeah, you can get it all online in minutes these days, however viewing a couple of photos and reading a review or two isn’t always as good as getting a chance to try things out, and see them up close for yourself.
  • Get off the bus a couple of stops early
    • If it’s a beautiful day, why not enjoy the sunshine and the opportunity for a little quiet “me” time.

None of these options needs to be done strenuously, and yet the net effect of keeping your heart rate even slightly elevated can contribute greatly to improving your general health and well being. Your body is built for movement, and your metabolic processes rely on that movement in order to function properly. So why would you want to stay still for long periods of time when inactivity can be so damaging to your health?

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