When we think about exercising, many people tend to immediately think about time spent in the gym slogging it out on the treadmill or lifting weights. This perception of exercise is very restrictive and can be off-putting for those who think of the gym as too challenging, overwhelming, or just downright boring. The truth is that exercise can be done in hundreds of different ways – as long as you’re doing an activity that requires physical effort, you’re exercising. This might mean walking, playing with your kids, dancing, swimming, cycling or simply doing the housework – the opportunities are infinite.
If you’re someone who struggles to consciously and actively ‘exercise’, moving your body while doing a task or activity where your mind isn’t purely occupied on the exercise aspect can be extremely helpful; if you make exercise the by-product of something you find immersive or enjoyable, you won’t even realise you’re doing it!
What do we mean by this? Here are just a few ways you can get all your exercise in without even noticing:
Yoga is generally a gentle form of exercise focusing on stretching, breathing and mindfulness. While it may not leave you sweaty and gasping for air, it is an excellent form of exercise. It works your entire body, builds core strength, increases flexibility and helps to prevent injury.
Just 20 minutes of dancing is enough to provide you with a good workout. Dancing raises the heart rate and works the cardiovascular system while building muscle and strengthening your core. Whether you choose to turn on the tunes and sweat it out at home or try a Zumba class at your local David Lloyd Club, dancing is guaranteed to leave you sweaty and get those endorphins pumping.
While walking might not feel like it, it’s a great form of exercise that has been proven to help lower the risk of obesity, type two diabetes, and certain types of cancers. Working your heart and lowering your blood pressure, it’s the perfect low-impact exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels.
While this may be one of the least enjoyable activities on the list, getting the housework done will work your muscles without ‘exercise’ being the main goal. All the bending, squatting, wiping, scrubbing and more will raise your heart rate and work your muscles.
Going for a hike has similar health benefits to walking, often with the added challenge of a longer duration and a more challenging terrain. Spending time outdoors with the distraction of new and exciting views will get your exercise in without you noticing it as much as you would doing a hill walk on the treadmill or Stairmaster!
Playing with the kids
An active session with the kids in the garden or the park is a great way of getting the heart pumping in a fun and social way where you won’t notice just how much exercise you’re doing. Not only is it healthy for you but the kids as well.
Whether you’re riding your bike to work, the shops, or to the park, cycling is excellent exercise. Not only will it increase your cardiovascular fitness, build strength, improve your joint mobility, and burn calories, but it is convenient and can help you save money on transport. When cycling, your focus tends to be on your surroundings and not on the actual physical sensation, so you work your body without even thinking about it.
Playing engaging sports such as tennis will help you be active in a fun and interesting way where the emphasis isn’t on moving just for the sake of it. Tennis has a whole host of health benefits, and can be played by anyone.
Outside of swimming training i.e. doing timed lengths etc. just paddling around a pool and having fun can be good exercise for the whole family. Playing games and splashing around can work your heart and muscles in a fun and relaxed environment.