Most people have heard the term “incidental exercise“, but not everyone is clear about what it means. In essence, the term means any physical activity you do throughout your day that is not a part of a planned workout session.
As the obesity rate continues to climb and more people struggle to find weight-loss solutions that work for them, it becomes increasingly important to make time to get some physical activity into each day. Even if you have managed to lose those extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight, it’s still important to avoid pound-creep by staying active.
The best part about incidental activity is that it includes many of the things you would normally do each day anyway. If you’re keen to find ways to maintain a healthy weight, boost fitness levels, and improve body tone, but you don’t have time to get to the gym as regularly as you would like, there could be an alternative solution.
Does Incidental Exercise Really Help?
Doctors all over the world advocate the benefits of getting at least 30 minutes of physical exercise a day on at least five days of each week. Yet most people cringe at the thought of getting all sweaty and red-faced during a rigorous workout at a gym.
What many people don’t realize is that breaking up your physical activity into smaller chunks spread out through the day still adds up to the same health benefits overall. Instead of getting a solid 30-minute workout, you can break up your activity into three separate sessions of 10 minutes each.
Research released by Queens University shows that incidental exercise can help to improve fitness and make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Further research published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that taking incidental exercise into account throughout each day could be just as beneficial for health as a planned workout at the gym.
The same studies also showed that people who maintained an active lifestyle that included non-exercise physical activity had a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease. It also revealed that people who worked a regular amount of daily incidental exercise into their regular routine were more likely to maintain a healthy weight.
Incidental Activity Ideas
Anything that gets your body moving contributes to the amount of daily activity you get. Some examples include:
- Washing the car with a bucket and a sponge instead of driving through the auto-wash
- Household chores such as sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, or scrubbing provide an effective workout that also helps to tone abdominal and back muscles
- Hanging laundry out to dry on a line instead of putting them in the dryer can burn up to 68 calories per hour
- Garden chores such as mowing lawns or pulling weeds are good ways to get some fresh air outside and increase your physical activity levels
- Pushing a grocery cart up and down aisles at the store can burn up to 144 calories per hour while you’re shopping for food
- Park the car further away from the doors at the mall and walk the extra minute. You’ll find it easier to get a parking spot, and the extra steps add to your daily tally
- Use the ad breaks to stretch or do isometric exercises while you watch TV. You can burn up to 230 calories per hour by doing gentle hamstring stretches or getting down on the floor to do some sit-ups or crunches or push-ups
- Stand up or pace around when you’re talking on the phone. By standing instead of sitting you’re activating your core and helping to improve your posture, both of which contribute to toning your body
Keeping Track Of Incidental Activity
Most people are completely unaware of just how much incidental activity they do in each day. Yet once you start monitoring the amounts you do, it becomes easier to be accountable for your level of physical activity without feeling guilty about not joining the gym.
There are plenty of excellent apps available for your smartphone that let you track your incidental exercise and add it to your daily physical activity records. For example, the app for MyFitnessPal (www.myfitnesspal.com) allows you to add simple activities, such as sweeping floors, pulling weeds in the garden, or walking around the store with a grocery cart. Whenever you add those activities into your daily records, the app helps you keep track of exactly how much you’re doing each day.
One of the key benefits of keeping track of the amount of physical activity you do on a daily basis is that you have the opportunity to monitor whether you’re doing enough to maintain a healthy weight. It also allows you to plan simple tasks and chores so you know you’re getting at least some activity throughout every day.
For example, you might choose to sweep the floors on one day, giving you a great cardio workout and toning your abs and upper arms. The following day you might decide to scrub the bathrooms, which helps to tone your abs, arms, and thighs.
Stay accountable for the amount of activity you squeeze into each day and keep track of it by entering your activities into a tracking app. You’ll be surprised how easy it becomes to move from a sedentary lifestyle as you start to recognize how much you’re already doing.
Besides, breaking up your regular chores into bite-size pieces helps to keep your body moving and makes it easier for you to avoid pound-creep and maintain a healthy weight without trying to find time to get to the gym.
Read more: Workout at the comfort of your home with adjustable dumbbell.