When we think of exercise, the first place our mind might wander is working out in a gym, playing sport on the weekend or running for kilometres on end. These types of exercise are known as planned or structured exercise. While they are extremely important in maintaining health, incidental exercise also has an important role.
WHAT IS INCIDENTAL EXERCISE?
Basically, any sort of movement that is completed throughout the day that is unplanned or unstructured. It may only be a few minutes here and there every hour and it might only be light exercise, but the accumulation of all those minutes at the end of the day can potentially make up the majority of our movement in a total 24 hours.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Some benefits include:
- Blood flow and circulation to improve cardiovascular health
- Weight management and energy balance
- Improves mood
- Sleep quality
- Memory and mental clarity
The human body is not designed to stay still or in the same position all day. Especially during the times we are in at the moment (lockdown), it can be easy to lose track of time and sink deeper into the couch as you watch TV, or hunched over into the office chair after Zoom meetings all day. Incidental exercise is a way to counter the effects these habits could have on your health and your body.
Some ways that you can increase the amount of incidental activity you do in a day:
- Starting an Apple Watch competition with your mates – who can get the most steps?
- Walking to your local cafe for a coffee
- Standing behind the desk instead of sitting during a Zoom meeting
- Taking the stairs instead of the lift at the shops
- Cleaning the house
- Doing 10 pushups and 10 squats during every TV ad break
- Carrying the grocery bags inside from the car (make those few extra trips instead of trying to carry all the bags at once)
- Playing outside with the kids
- Washing the car
- Walking the dog
- Standing on the bus/train instead of sitting
- Gardening and yard work
- Parking your car 10 minutes further from your work building and walking the rest of the distance.
One of the best things about incidental exercise is that it is not time consuming. By adding a few chores that need to be completed or any hobbies you have into your day, you will be productive and enjoying yourself while remaining active at the same time.
Although incidental activity should not replace structured exercise, it is an integral part of maintaining your health. Not only is it mostly unplanned without having to be scheduled into the day, making it a convenient way to remain active throughout the day, you can see how it plays an important role in supporting a healthy lifestyle. So give some of those strategies a go and reap the rewards of incidental exercise!