20 ways to exercise without realising it
You know that you should be getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, but somehow binge-watching Breaking Bad re-runs seems a better option right now than heading for the gym in the rain and snow. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do which don't involve the gym or an exercise class, that still count towards your daily exercise quota. Many of these things we do on a daily basis without even thinking about it. When you say to yourself, “I don't enjoy exercise”, what you really mean is that you don't enjoy the type of exercise that you're doing. And it should be enjoyable! If you hate running, no amount of downloading running apps and pushing yourself is going to turn you into someone who thrives on training for a 5K. Pick a form of exercise that you enjoy and that's half the battle!
So if you're lacking motivation to go for a run or to the gym, and you've tried our motivational mantras and still can't seem to get in the right frame of mind, don't beat yourself up. Exercise should be something you enjoy – over time, the more you do it, the more addictive it will become! But for those days when you just really can't be bothered, here are 20 ways to exercise without realising it.
#1. Go for a walk
Did you know that walking is just as good exercise as running? We're not talking about walking to the corner shop in your heels on the way home from a night out – but about proper power walking in your comfiest training shoes. A brisk 15-minute walk is a step in the right direction, and you can squeeze this into your day at any point – walk to work, walk home or have a walking meeting!
#2. Try LARPing
Yes, it's nerdy. But Live Action Role Playing is SO much fun, particularly if you sign up with friends. You might feel daft at first running around in full costume, swinging your weapons, but it's a great way to keep active and get your imagination fired up.
#3. Get your dancing shoes on
Dancing does not feel like exercise to us, and it's one of our favourite things to do! The best part is that there are dance styles to suit all tastes, from hip-hop and street dance to salsa, Scottish country dancing and swing. So whether you are 16 or 60, you'll be able to find a dance class you enjoy – it will elevate your heart rate and get your endorphins flowing.
#4. Scale the rock face
Rock climbing, or bouldering, is a great way to keep active, whether you sign up for classes at your local indoor climbing wall or enjoy the great outdoors. For an upper body workout, you can't do much better, and you'll end up with seriously toned arms, back and shoulders if you commit yourself to climbing regularly.
#5. Learn a martial art
Everyone at some point or another has wished to be in a martial arts movie. Who wouldn't want to kick ass with Kung Fu or take down enemies with Tae Kwon Do? There are plenty of different martial arts to try out, so whether you're into fast-paced moves or something a bit more relaxed like Tai Chi, there's a martial art for you.
#6. Clean the house
Yeah, it's not top of our list of things to do either – does anybody really like cleaning? You'd be surprised at how good a workout it can be though, and cleaning the whole house from top to bottom (particularly if you have a big house!) can really get your heart rate elevated. Blast your favourite music and make sure you have a healthy snack to hand so you don't have to stop. Hoovering, dusting and scrubbing will burn off those calories!
#7. Try parkour
As anyone who has ever seen the film 'District B13' knows, parkour is far from easy, but it seriously kicks ass! If you fancy yourself as a parkour or free running master, look for groups in your area or just get started yourself at home with online instructional videos; but be careful!
#8. Head for a yoga class
Yoga is seriously relaxing, and you could enjoy a class or workout with a DVD at home. It doesn't feel like exercise – the movements are slow and controlled and there's a lot of focus on breathing and centring yourself. But if you're doing it right, you'll notice sore muscles the next day. There are lots of different kinds of yoga, so try a few and see which suits you best. Bikram yoga (or hot yoga) is one of our favourites!
#9. Dust off your console
If it's all been work and no play lately, dust off your Wii, Playstation or Xbox and try a game that makes you move. Wii Sports and Wii Fit are two of the most popular options, whilst Dance Dance Revolution counts as exercise as well. We're not suggesting you do this everyday, but it beats sitting slumped on the couch for hours!
#10. Learn to play a musical instrument
Yup, you heard us. Maybe there was an instrument you always wanted to learn at school but never got around to? Why not take up violin – did you know that playing the violin for an hour burns around about the same calories as walking at a moderate pace for the same time? Using your brain burns calories too!
#11. Cycle to work
Cycling to work means you miss the morning pile-up on public transport, you get some (hopefully) fresh air and you save money on petrol, plus you get a workout too. Make sure you're properly kitted up and always wear a helmet. In fact, you can cycle anywhere, rather than taking the bus or driving, and you'll be boosting your endorphins and getting a good workout whilst toning your legs.
#12. Do some DIY
All those odd jobs around the house that you've been meaning to do for ages won't do themselves. Putting up curtain rails and shelves, fixing kitchen cupboards and even redecorating are all excellent ways to stay active. Whilst you're at it, why not build yourself a standing desk? Your posture will be better, you'll banish pack pain and you'll strengthen your legs by using a standing desk rather than sitting slouched at your desk when you work from home.
#13. Stop meeting for cake and coffee
It can be fun to meet up with your female friends for cake and coffee, but why not take a more active approach? Meet for a game of frisbee at the park, go for a walk or even enjoy a round of golf. Not only will this help you to be more active, it also helps to change the way you view exercise – you'll see it as an excuse to socialise with friends.
#14. Enjoy time between the sheets
#15. Go for a hike
Rather than walking around your neighbourhood, grab some friends and take off into the countryside. Hiking lets you get back to nature, enjoy incredible scenery and burn some serious calories – plus you don't need any specialist equipment other than a good pair of boots.
#16. Take the dog for a walk
Most of us who have dogs do this at least once a day, but it all counts towards your 30 minutes of physical activity. Why not go for a longer walk than usual, or enjoy a jog with your dog; they will love it!
#17. Walk to the supermarket
Ditch the car and forget ordering your groceries online. Walking to the supermarket, and back again with heavy bags of shopping, is good exercise and helps to tone your arms and shoulders. Just make sure you stock up on plenty of healthy post-workout snacks and ingredients for some of our autumn salads!
#18. Bring out your inner child
Grab your mates for this one, and obviously wait until the kids aren't around. Your local playground is the perfect place to have fun and bring out your inner child, whilst getting some exercise! Monkey bars, slides, balance beams – run around and really have a good time. You'll boost your mood and your fitness.
#19. Play with the kids
Kids love active games, so play with them outside at every available opportunity. Roll around in the back garden, play tag, get on the trampoline – enjoy yourself!
#20. Head for the woods
Remember what it was like to be a kid, climbing up trees, launching yourself from branches and being generally fearless? With a bit more caution as an adult, you can have just as much fun climbing in the woods, and you'll gain confidence, burn calories and soak up some vitamin D from the sun to boot!