Incidental exercise: tips and benefits

Incidental exercise: tips and benefits

Our modern lives make it very difficult when it comes to being active. With technology and other modern progresses, little physical effort is required to get through the week. It’s time to change that.

Nowadays it is more convenient to complete daily activities with little to no effort. Public transportation, cars, elevators, escalators, and travellators: all of these modern inventions mean we exert minimal amounts of physical effort. These things are so ingrained in our daily habits that deviating from them seems a huge ask. We are living in a world where the shopping comes directly to your door step by a click of a button on your tablet, and robotic vacuums make physical labour obsolete. Research is showing that this modern lifestyle is detrimental to our health, and it is time to change our habits.

We all know by now that exercise is key to healthy living. Sedentary lifestyles, such as sitting in front of a computer for hours per day, are linked to early mortality as well as various diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease. According to a committee on exercise and cardiac rehabilitation at the American Heart Association, “dynamic exercise of the large muscles for extended periods of time (30 to 60 minutes, three to six times weekly) is recommended. This may include short periods of moderate intensity (60% to 75% of maximal capacity) activity (approximately 5 to 10 minutes) that total 30 minutes on most days.”

These short periods is where incidental exercise comes in. It is an easy way to increase your rate of exercise and even shed a few kilos. You can consider yourself fit and go to the gym religiously, but if you are sitting for the rest of the day you are not doing yourself any favours.

Okay, but what exactly is incidental exercise?
We can distinguish two types of exercise: deliberate exercise and incidental exercise. Deliberate exercise is when you decide to go for a run or hit the gym. Incidental exercise is the kind exercise we do ‘incidentally’ in the course of our day. It is exercise squeezed in during our activities. For example cleaning the house, gardening, walking up stairs, walking the dogs or riding a Me-Mover to work. Working out is not the main objective in these tasks, but we can easily get our heart rates up during them to gain a healthier lifestyle.

There are a lot of different ways to reach the recommended amount of exercise through to incidental exercise. For example:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Have an active commute by Me-Moving instead of driving or taking a bus
  • Walk to the store (or park a fair distance away and walk the rest)
  • Walk around while you talk on the phone
  • Get up every commercial break when watching TV
  • Turn up the music and add some extra oomph into your household chores
  • Walk to the far bathroom at the office
  • Walk to the canteen or nearby cafes instead of eating at your desk
Ride the Me-Mover to work
Ride the Me-Mover to work

What is important with any kind of exercise – incidental or deliberate – is that you have fun with it. If something is boring then you will never successfully incorporate it into your daily habits.

That is why turning usually boring things into fun activities, such as riding the Me-Mover instead of driving, or blasting your favourite tunes while sweeping the floor is a good way to get your heart pumping on a regular basis. If you enjoy what you are doing then you will keep coming back to it and it will eventually turn into a healthy habit – and what’s better than having fun while becoming healthier?

What are your favourite ways to keep active?