No doubt you hear the term ‘incidental exercise’ bandied about fairly regularly, but maybe (like many people) you don’t quite understand what it is, and the huge health benefits it can bring. So, what actually is incidental exercise, and how can you apply it to your life to help you burn more calories and lose weight faster? Well in short, incidental exercise is the exercise you get when exercising is not your main objective. (Phew, try saying that five times fast.) It’s the stairs you take two at a time on the way into the office or running for the bus in the morning. And while incidental exercise should never be seen as a replacement for dedicated exercise, it really can make a difference to your health, particularly if weight loss is your main objective.
There are many MANY ways to add some incidental exercise into your week, but here are my top 11, in no particular order:
1. Fidget – fidgeters can burn up to 350 extra calories per day than non-fidgeters (although obviously this will vary widely, depending on the type of fidgeting you do). Rock onto your tippytoes, tap your feet, wriggle around – just try not to annoy the people around you too much.
2. Get off the bus two stops early – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that walking for 10 minutes is better than sitting on your butt for 5 minutes. As your fitness increases, start getting off earlier and earlier. Before you know it you’ll be walking all the way to and from work!
3. Stretch while watching TV – you could burn up to 230 calories in one hour of stretching, such as that you’d do in a gentle yoga class. So skip the couch, roll out your mat and elongate your muscles while you watch your favourite TV show!
4. Take the stairs – there are stairs everywhere if you just open your eyes to them! Ditch the lifts and escalators and instead take the stairs every time. And if you’re feeling particularly spritely (and providing noone is around to think you’re a weirdo) once you get to the top, skip back down and take the stairs again!
5. Socialise on your feet – I love caffeine as much as the next (addicted) person, but instead of meeting a friend at your favourite cafe, why not grab your coffee to go and take a walk instead?
6. Don’t dawdle – you know those people who walk four abreast on the footpath, meandering along as they chat about what they did on the weekend? Don’t be one of those people. Have a purpose when you walk – you’ll engage your glutes, upper body and core, which is a mini workout all on its own!
7. Mow the lawn – for those of you lucky enough to have a backyard, stop seeing mowing as a chore (or worse – hiring someone else to do it) and start seeing it as a chance to burn a few extra calories. One 30-minute session of push mowing can burn up to 140 calories, and that’s not to be sneezed at!
8. Do the ironing – I know, I know, this is starting to sound like a paid announcement from keepyourhousetidy.com but seriously, an hour of ironing can burn up to 150 calories, and best of all, at the end of it you’ve got wrinkle-free clothes!
9. Take advantage of ads – instead of fossicking through the fridge every ad break, try doing this sequence each time – 10 squats, 10 push ups, 10 sit ups.
10. Walk your dog – I’ve said it before – but dogs really are the only piece of fitness equipment you’ll ever need. If you don’t have one of your own, borrow one from a friend or neighbour – I guarantee they’ll be happy for the break!
11. Stand more often – I used to work with a guy who had the company build him a standing desk so he could burn more calories and work on his posture. If you can’t get that through on your company expense account, try getting up every hour for a 2-5 minute walk around the office instead.
When you’re moving from a sedentary lifestyle to something more active, sometimes it’s nice to have a little reminder of all the extra stuff you could be doing to burn more calories each day – I suggest printing this out and pinning it to the fridge where you can’t hide from it! Combine these ideas with some of my workouts and a healthy eating plan and you’ll be feeling happier and healthier in no time – and looking pretty smokin’ too!
Have a great weekend x