Incidental exercise is the physical activity we get throughout the day when we move around. You don't have to go to a gym, change your clothes or complete a routine. Incidental exercise can make a real difference in your calories burned, especially if done consistently, and a pedometer is an excellent device for measuring it.
Of course, a pedometer also measures intentional exercise, such as regular walks or runs you may take during the week. However, you can actually rack up a lot of exercise incidentally. The important thing to realize is that most of the time, you have a choice to move around or not. There are probably some hours you must spend seated at a desk, but there are many hours during the day that you might choose to sit instead of doing something active. You will have to make the effort, and if you do, you'll notice the difference.
Pedometers don't cost much and you'll hardly notice it's there, but studies have shown that simply wearing a pedometer increases our motivation to get up and move around significantly. Keeping a log of your daily steps is a wonderful way to monitor your progress and get even more motivated.
Once you've got that pedometer, here are some ways to increase incidental exercise in your life:
- After establishing a baseline, increase your number of steps by 10% each week. Aim for 10,000 steps per day. That meets most fitness guidelines for daily exercise.
- Is it really that far to the shops? Is there anything you can walk to that has something you need on a regular basis, so that you could leave the car behind once in a while (or more often)? That would save the environment, gasoline expenses and improves your health.
- If you must drive absolutely everywhere, park farther away from the shops so you have to walk a bit.
- I know the stairs are hard. But if you take them regularly, you'll go a long way towards improving your fitness level, burning calories, and just feeling invigorated. And it gets easier with practice! Stairs are one of the higher intensity activities you can do.
- Get off the train or bus a couple of stops early and walk the rest of the way.
- Include a 10 -or 20-minute brisk walk every day at lunch. You'll be amazed how a walk can help you de-stress and refresh your mind for the afternoon ahead.
- Take your dog for an extra walk each day. He'll love you for it.
Incidental exercise will keep your metabolism up, which can boost your energy levels and help you sleep better, and of course, you'll burn more calories. If you put enough effort into it that your heart and lungs have to work a little harder than usual, you'll improve your fitness level, too.