Being active and exercising is key for maintaining physical and mental health. Not everyone though likes or can hit the gym or invest in expensive fitness equipment. If that sounds like you, keep reading to find out 10 ways to exercise more without working out that are fun and family-friendly.
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Exercise improves your health
Having an active lifestyle and exercising have so many health benefits and is one of the key steps to improve your well-being and achieve optimal health.
For example, being active helps maintaining a healthy weight, lowers the risks of diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory conditions, and cancer.
Exercise also improves mental health and lowers the risk of anxiety and depression, improves sleep and energy levels, and helps the immune system.
Being active also improves gut health, which is fundamental for you overall well-being (read more about gut health here), and is key in maintain a healthy, functioning body throughout every stage in life, also preventing musculoskeletal degeneration and chronic pain.
The advantages of exercising without working out
Unless you’re someone who truly enjoys working out and finds it motivating, having an active lifestyle and incorporating exercise into your daily routine rather than planning your workouts might be the best choice for you.
The thing is that if exercising feels like a punishment, if you have to force yourself to workout, make time for it in your already busy life (hey there busy moms), and you don’t really enjoy it or have a strong inner motivation to keep doing it, chances are you’re going to give it up at the first occasion you have.
If you have an active lifestyle, on the other hand, exercise is part of your daily routine and activities and it’s much more difficult to give it up. The key is to move through activities that are fun and you enjoy so that you keep yourself motivated to keep moving (check out the Primal Play Method by Darryl Edwards).
The other benefits of exercising without working out include less stress (there’s not worrying about planning the perfect workout, having a personal trainer, attending a busy gym), a healthier environment (most of the activities involve being outdoors, which has many benefits by itself), and, of course, no extra expenses. Having a active lifestyle is also family-friendly and involves activities all the family can do together, creating memorable moments together, as well as reducing the stress related to fit a workout with being a parent.
So let’s dive in and see the 10 (fun) ways to exercise more without working out!
Our bodies are meant to walk and walking is the simplest way to stay active.
Go for daily walks, but also walk around whenever you can. Making a phone call? Take a stroll. Going on a date with a friend? Grab a coffee and walk around the park instead of sitting at the café. Going to the grocery store? Park at the far end of the parking lot to get some extra steps in. If you need to sit to work for long periods of time, take a short break and get up and walk around regularly.
Not only walking is a great way to stay active, but comes with so many extra benefits. For example, walking in nature lowers stress, boosts cognition, creativity, and observational skills.
2. Take the stairs
Climbing the stairs can be considered a real workout as it involves many different muscles (not only your legs and gluteus, but also the abdominal muscles), as well as activating the cardio vascular system.
So ditch the elevator and climb the stairs! If you have stairs at home, simply don’t avoid going up and down the stairs multiple times a day.
3. Do your house chores
When it comes to doing chores, I know, many of you will wonder where is the fun! But let me put it this way. Chores are something you need to do anyway, so why don’t consider that like a free workout that makes your house clean while keeping you healthy?
So embrace the chores and vacuum and mop your floors regularly (which is also a great way to improve your inoor air quality and reduce your exposure to toxins), wash your dishes by hand, do laundry. If you feel up for an extra boost, you could even clean the windows and your car. Rainy day? Turn on your favorite music and deep clean the house. And don’t forget to grab the showel and clear the snow off your driveway for a winter workout!
Once you’re done taking care of your house, step outside and take care of your garden too.
Mowing the grass is a great way to stay active. You can also start a vegetable or flower garden: in between digging, shovelling and moving soil, seeding, weeding, watering, and harvesting you’ll soon find your muscles bigger, your waist smaller, and your smile wider.
Yes, gardening is not only a great way to stay physically active and spending more time outdoors (read about the benefits of spending time outdoors here), but it’s proven to increase happiness, while also providing healthy food for you and your family to eat!
5. Cook from scratch
Maybe not many consider cooking a form of exercise. But think about all the standing up, washing, chopping, moving from one corner of the kitchen to the other, lifting heavy cast iron skillets, squatting down to take something out of the oven..
It might not be like running a marathon, but cooking from scratch is certainly one way to keep your body moving, and definitely more active than just opening a box of processed food or ordering take-out. Plus, cooking from scratch with quality ingredients is the best way to provide a healthy meal for your family, which will also improve your health!
6. Lift heavy things
Cardio activities like walking are great to improve your health, but resistance activities that involve lifting weight are fundamental to strenghten your muscles and bones, as well as improve balance and coordination.
So (safely) lift your kids, your grocery bags, and whatever other heavy things you need to move around. Use a grocery basket instead of a cart when you can or leave the cart at the exit and carry the bags to the car.
7. Find active hobbies
Not many people have real hobbies anymore. Having a (or many) hobby is actually proven to improve mental and physical health, lower stress, increase happiness and even work performance (source). Find a hobby that you like and that you can easily fit into your life. Hobbies that keep you active and, even better, make you spend time outdoors are the best!
So try activities such as hiking, biking, canoeing, skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, hunting, gardening, berry picking, but even building or restoring furniture, going thrift shopping, or whatever activity you enjoy and doesn’t involve sitting down and staring at a screen. Many of these activities are family-friendly and a great way to spend time together with your loved ones (or friends) while moving your bodies and having fun!
8. Have a dance party
If you’re someone who likes listening to music throughout the day, why not trying dancing as well? You don’t need to take dancing classes or learn complicated moves, just turn on the music and move! This is a fun activity to do with your kids in a rainy day or even with your partner for a fun date.
Dancing not only keeps you moving, but can also boost your mood and reduce stress. Try an impromptu 15-minutes dance party in the middle of the day for an immediate boost of energy and humor!
9. Play active games with your kids
Next time you go to the playground with your kids, climb the slide with them, go on the swings, climb a tree with them, swing across the monkey bars.. You get the idea! As attempting as it is to just sit and watch them (you can still do that sometimes), it’s truly fun to take part in the games and feel a bit careless with them. Imbrace your inner child and you’ll be surprised how much fun it can be!
Try roughhousing with your kids, wrestling, playing tag or “the floor is lava”, or just chasing each others around until you get dizzy. Sometimes I let my son get into the wheel barrow and push him around the backyard. He finds it amusing, I get a good workout, and we both have a great time together!
Rambunctious play has gotten a bad reputation in the past few years, but it’s actually very beneficial for kids and their parents (check this book out to learn more!). Rambunctious play also helps create social and moral intelligence in kids, and increases their resilience (source).
These activities not keep the all family active, but they improve bonds and connection, lower stress, and create memories. Plus, by being an active parent you can create healthy family habits and be a health-role model for them.
10. Challenge yourself
Whether is hiking to the top of the hill behind your house, learning how to do pull-ups, or simply start waking 20 minutes every single day, you should keep exploring new physical challenges regularly even as a grown-up (source).
Putting your body (and mind) through physically challenging and demanding activities has many physical and mental benefits, and can help build strength, resilience, and confidence.
So don’t be afraid of trying new things and exit that comfort zone you’ve been living in. You’ll find a whole new level of fun, motivation, and self-esteem waiting for you!
So I think as we listed all these ideas to exercise more without working out, the main take-home message is: stop “exercising” and start having fun! Embrace any and every occasion to move and you’ll soon find it hard to sit down and do nothing.
Shop this post
Book: The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs
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Drop a comment down below and let me know some of the fun ways you stay active and incorporate exercise into your everyday life.
Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are for informational and educational purposes only, and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, or before making substantial changes in your lifestyle.
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I’m a school counselor and I’m so glad to see you encouraging play!
Thank you very much! Yes, I think that many parents resist the idea of playing with their children, but we should instead embrace it which I believe it’s beneficial for both the children and the parents 🙂
It’s so important to be active. My wife’s osteopath has been championing the idea of calling it movement instead of exercise to get us off of viewing it as another responsibility. Your tips are a wonderful way to top that up by not even viewing the different forms of movement as being needed for bodily health and instead just being practical.
That’s such a wonderful idea, Brad! We certainly don’t need more tasks nowadays and that’s why “movement” is certainly more practical, and fun 🙂
This is such great advice! I needed this as I am transitioning into more of a healthier lifestyle. I use to work out everyday and then my twins came along and I stopped! Thank you for sharing!
I agree that being active is the best way to live, I always feel best when I keep moving throughout the day. Thank you for the great post!
Thank you for reading, Courtney! 🙂
All great ideas! I especially love swimming in the summertime with my kids. But these are all great ideas I hope to use when fall temperatures start to kick in. haha We do walks in the spring and fall, but not typically in the summer. Great ideas! Thanks!