Exercise hacks: How to be fitter without really trying

Exercise Hacks: How to be fitter without really trying. Image of young woman pulling a determine smiling face whilst showing her bicep as a display of strength on a pink background

Physically and mentally exercise is very good for us – period.  

However, I can more than appreciate not everyone enjoys working out.  You may have even been advised against certain forms of it by your medical practitioner.  Sometimes the thought of the effort, the expense, the weather looking shifty – can be enough to make you place your trainers into the first charity donation bag that lands through your letter box.  

But all is not lost! There are numerous exercise hacks available to allow you to still reap the benefits working out can provide without a gym membership in sight.  

These exercise hacks are so simple and require so little extra effort from you, that I wouldn’t blame you for questioning how effective they actually are.  With this in mind, allow me to explain…

A little something about exercise 

Exercise Hacks: How to be fitter without really trying.  Image of woman with mock angry face waiting ready to run on a running track wearing a tracksuit and sweatband

Exercise is any physical movement that elevates your heart rate.  What really matters the most is that you’re working your muscles and getting moving.  Even if you’re doing this completely subconsciously.

small-ish side note:

First and foremost, I’m an advocate of exercise for improving your overall well-being.  As I mentioned in 5 Ways exercise makes you happy – weight loss is not my main drive for exercising.  For me, exercise is about improving your physical and mental health.  So, whilst I won’t be focusing on the calorie burn potential for the majority of these exercise hacks, I do want to note that they will contribute to higher calorie burn (if that is of interest to you.)  

So if you want to be fitter without really trying, here are my favourite exercise hacks…

[*Exercise hacks: how to be fitter without really trying contains affiliate links.  To find out more about this, click here.]

– Standing room only –

Stand up.  That’s it, simple as! 

Exercise Hacks: How to be fitter without really trying. Image of Happy casual man standing up pointing upwards over grey background

The more we stand, the less we sit (or lie-down for that matter) the more effort our bodies have to make. 

Standing has been proven to lower blood sugar, cholesterol and our risk of heart disease.  It gets the blood circulating, reduces inflammation and helps to reduce back pain.  Plus standing with good posture helps tone our muscles.  

Easy ways to incorporate standing into your daily routine:

  • Move away from sitting at the dressing table and apply your makeup or blow dry your hair whilst standing.  The raising of your arms to use the hairdryer or other heated appliances will also increase your heart rate. 
  • If possible have a standing desk at work.  This can be an actual standing desk* or just by moving your work space regularly throughout the day to somewhere that will enable you to stand.  
  • And if you get a phone call why not stand whilst you take it? 
  • Stand instead of sitting whilst playing video games.  The motion of holding and operating the controller will also help strengthen your arm muscles.

Did you know?  Standing desks have been proven to boost productivity, encourage creativity, reduce stress and fight fatigue.  I promise you I’m adopting this habit as I type!

Exercise Hacks: How to be fitter without really trying. Image of Shot of happy young man standing up working on desktop computer in modern workplace.

Top Tip: Try to go from a sitting to a standing position every 30 minutes – even if it’s to put the kettle on or nip to the loo.  

Don’t fancy standing? Another option is to sit on the floor whilst watching TV.  Not the most comfortable way to view your favourite programmes granted, but it works in that you’ll need to shift position regularly increasing your movements.  

– Walk it! –

I’m not talking massive hikes here, just where possible choose to walk instead of driving or using public transport.  As a runner (OK, jogger) I’m not a fan of this fact, but someone who walks at a reasonable pace doesn’t burn that many less calories than someone who has run the same distance.  

Exercise Hacks: How to be fitter without really trying.  Image of woman walking carrying shopping bags and smiling

Easy ways to incorporate walking into your daily routine:

  • Hit the high street! You can cover miles in town centres and shopping malls.  Plus all the bags you can end up carrying help increase the workout further.  
  • And whilst we’re talking shopping – do the food shop in person and not online.   Pushing a trolley, lifting, packing and carrying all gets the body moving and the heart pumping.  Better still (if it’s not the weekly food shop), use baskets instead of a trolley. 
  • If you can, park further away and don’t forget (where and if possible) to use stairs instead of lifts and escalators.
  • Not a fan of shopping? Head to a museum, go to the local nature park, visit a tourist attraction – all high on the enjoyment scale, so you may not even realise how many steps you’ve taken!
  • Head out for your lunch break.  When I used to work in an office, I made a point of heading out for lunch daily and not eating at my desk.  My colleague and I would head outside for a walk everyday, whether it was to pick up some lunch or to sit and eat our packed lunches on a quiet bench somewhere.  The change of environment & fresh air re-energised for the afternoon ahead. 

Exercise Hacks: How to be fitter without really trying. Image of young woman walking, smiling and talking on the phone

  • Building on something I’ve suggested before, whenever I receive a phone call I always stand up and pace around whilst speaking.  If you love to talk as much as I do, an hour of pacing could pass without you evening knowing it.
  • Finally, try moving around whilst brushing your teeth, it’s only 2 minutes. I’ve been doing this for years.  A small effort but it’s still an exercise win.

– Intimate encounters –

Exercise Hacks: How to be fitter without really trying. Couples barefeet protruding from under duvet cover

Yes it’s true sex is a work-out within itself.  It bumps up the heart rate and as you may imagine uses various muscles.  It’s certainly easy to work up a sweat.  Whilst the aerobic benefit claims have started to become more challenged – if practiced safely and consensually – it’s still a more pleasurable alternative to the treadmill no? 

You’ll forgive me for not suggesting ways to incorporate it into your daily routine – I’ll leave the creativity up to you on this one! 😉

– Channel your inner domestic god/goddess – 

Chores such as cleaning are a necessity that we don’t always enjoy (a bit like exercise for some of us) but are actually another form of exercise.  So through completing domestic chores, we’re not only gaining a clean and tidy environment, we’re also increasing out fitness levels too.

Exercise Hacks: How to be fitter without really trying.  Image of adult mopping the kitchen floor

Here are some ways to reap maximum benefits from domestic chores:

  • Challenge yourself to get the cleaning done within a certain time limit or number of songs from your playlist.  Encouraging you to move faster and – bonus – you get the cleaning completed much quicker!
  • Boost the cleaning work-out even further by wearing ankle and wrist weights*
  • Step away from the dishwasher.  When possible wash and dry the dishes – this is far more physical and saves on the electric, win-win.
  • Cook from scratch.  The food prep & the time spent standing in the kitchen cooking, all counts in the exercise stakes.  Plus, eating freshly prepared home cooked meals are better for your health than take-aways or pre-processed foods (even if you do stand whilst the microwave is going.  I’m not judging, the microwave and I are good friends)

Top Tip:  If you need some inspiration or way to make cooking from scratch easier & more convenient – how about a recipe box? Mindful Chef offer weekly health-focused food boxes that are full of mindfully sourced ingredients and caters for a range of dietary requirements (including vegan & gluten free) Find out more here: *Mindful Chef – How it works

Exercise Hacks: How to be fitter without really trying. Image of an adult male putting shredded red cabbage into a wok cooking on a stove

– Work with children & animals (well, dogs at least) –

Although the old adage is ‘never work with children or animals’ they are really effective in your quest to get fitter.  Both are physically active groups and although into adulthood our energy levels greatly dwindle, spending time in their company naturally increases the amount of exercise we get involved in.  

Exercise Hacks: How to be fitter without really trying.  Image of parents pushing children on tire swing in a garden

  • When you’re at the park with your children (or grandchildren, nieces or nephews etc) actually get involved.  Don’t just sit back and observe.  Push them on the swings, help hold them up on the monkey bars, be the see to their saw.  
  • If you’re out somewhere where it allows, take a ball, take a frisbee, take a bat and ball – take your bikes and cycle.  
  • Treat your dog to a longer walk or an extra one. 
  • Throw the ball a few more times.
  • Play tug of war – with your dog or kids – both would enjoy it!
  • Help an elderly neighbour or relative out by walking their dog for them.  
  • Fancy borrowing a dog? Check out Borrowmydoggy.com, they connect dog owners with dog borrowers.

Exercise Hacks: How to be fitter without really trying.  Image of young couple walking their dog through a public park

Top tip: Want to do some exploring around a new town or city but worry about keeping the kids entertained?  Why don’t you take part in treasure trails – they’re a great way to keep the kids interested and involve a decent amount of walking.

Ready to implement some small but effective changes?

Whether using these exercise hacks in addition to your established exercise routines or just as a way to help improve your general fitness, investing in building these small but effective habits will prove of great benefit to your overall health and well-being.

Need some visual reaffirmation? Fitness trackers* are a great way to keep you motivated and encouraged.  They can record your steps, distances, heart-rate, calorie burn and even your sleep habits.

Hold tight for the preachy but sensible bit: Always seek professional advice before embarking on any type of increased physical activity if you have any underlying health concerns or injuries.  Remember if you’ve physically exerted yourself, to stretch and cool down appropriately afterwards to avoid injury.  The best way to gain maximum benefit from any exercise is to practise in conjunction with a healthy & balanced diet.

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Looking for even more life hacks? Read:

[*Exercise hacks: how to be fitter without really trying contains affiliate links.  To find out more about this, click here.]
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Are you already incorporating any of these exercise hacks into your daily life?  Were you aware that exercise could be simple?  Any other exercise hacks you’d like to share?  I’d always be interested to find more of them!  Anything you’d like to share or ask – just get in touch via the comment box below – I’d love to hear from you!

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6 thoughts on “Exercise hacks: How to be fitter without really trying

  1. Back in high school, after grade 10, you’re allowed to opt out of any physical activity classes and replace it with a “fit log” which is essentially logging in your own physical activity outside of school and have it signed by your parent or something once it met the monthly minimum hours required. My teacher was a big advocate for walking and even suggested we go shopping for a couple of hours just to get our bodies moving.

    If anyone is struggling with exercising or even just want a little bit more exercise in their day – walks are the best! It’s so simple, you can do it anywhere and it’s such a relaxing experience!

    1. I love this idea! I did not get on with school physical education at all and I always felt there must be another way – I’m not sure whether they offer this in schools over here at the moment – but it would be great to get young people developing a more positive attitude towards exercise – it really is about getting your body moving. I agree walking is brilliant and you can cover so far without even realising – plus like you said the de-stress and relaxation potential is a great bonus! Thanks for reading!

  2. Hello. As a sixty plus something busy, professional woman I’ve just made up my mind to exercise a little more. I heard about some credible research which found that if we do some form of aerobic exercise regularly, we reap huge benefits in terms of mental alertness. As I’m doing a postgrad course at university, I decided I would give it a go – it’s far from being an appealing thought!!!! I’m starting with doing between 30 seconds and 1 minute of aerobic (basically jumping up and down, vigorous dancing and giggling at the absurdity of it!) exercise every day. I plan to establish this for a week or two as part of my daily routine, then I will gradually up the length of time I spend on it. I have to be a little careful, because I have Type 1 diabetes, and, although exercise is greatly beneficial and recommended, I could have sustained low blood sugars if I don’t incorporate it gradually. Thanks for this article, Alex. It’s most encouraging.

    1. That’s fantastic! Little and often is the key – build up gradually. Well done you for taking such a positive step! Thanks for reading and sharing!

    1. Thank you Lauretta – that’s interesting to hear about the productivity, it’s good to hear it has other benefits other than fitness too! I think I’m going to try the gym ball chair for some of the day although with my balance I’ll probably spend much of the day falling on the floor! x

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