19 Ways To Increase Your Activity Level (Without Working Out)

Woman shelling on beach for non exercise activity.

Get More Active Without Hitting The Gym - 18 Easy Ideas

Ready to increase your activity level without actually working out? You might be surprised to find out there are a number of ways to get active without hitting the gym. Now, we’re not saying that traditional workouts aren’t important because they are. However, for those people that need or want to increase their activity level or have a hard time getting workouts in, we’ve got some ideas for how you can move a little more.

We meet people consistently at our fitness retreats who are looking to boost their activity level but may have a busy lifestyle. Career, family, friends and other commitments often times tie up time. Getting to the gym may be limited. This is where knowing and understanding simple ways to get in more activity in can be a huge help. NEAT is the acronym for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. According to ACE Fitness, “While exercise is an important form of physical activity that can burn hundreds of calories at a time, other forms of physical activity, called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), can play a significant role in helping to maximize the total amount of calories burned in a single day.” The activities of daily living that don’t include sleeping, eating or physical exercise are what makes up your NEAT.

Keep in mind that these activities don’t necessarily have to be vigorous. They may just be a small amount of movement but they still count. Keep in mind, even though you might already know one or more of these ideas, if you’re not actually doing it then maybe it’s worth a try. Every little bit counts when you’re trying to squeeze in more movement when you can.

  1. Park in the parking space furthest away from the building. For the sake of moving your body more and burning a few extra calories, consider parking further away from the building rather than in the spot up close.

  2. Take the stairs. Yep. We know you’ve heard this one before but not only will you move more but you’ll also build a little strength in the lower body.

  3. Walk to work. Maybe you can walk the full way to work or maybe you can ride half way and walk half way. However you do it, steps add up. If you have the ability to walk all the way or part way and you’re looking to fit in activity where you can, this could be a great option for you.

  4. Take a walk around the office. Get up once an hour or every few hours and take a walk around the office. Fill up your water bottle, check in on a coworker or just head over to the windows to see what’s happening outside. Getting up every so often isn’t just good for movement but is also great for posture. We tend to hunch over at a desk. Get out of that poor posture situation, stand up and move around a bit.

  5. Stand at work. Stand up desks are growing in popularity as are stand up work stations. You might not have access to either of these which might limit your stand/work ability if you need to be in front of your computer. Could you stand when on the phone that doesn’t require you to be on your computer? Can you answer a few emails from your phone so you can get in a little standing time? Get creative! You don’t have to stand all day but little increments here and there will work too.

  6. Cycle to work. I know what you’re thinking — this sounds a lot like exercise. Consider the slow “stroll” on a bike though as a way to move without necessarily breaking a sweat. A great way to move your body, practice balance and get to work in the fresh air.

  7. Tend to your garden or plants. Whether you have a tiny garden or a large garden, tending to your plants is another great way to shake up your movement a little. Watering indoor and outdoor plants, pruning leaves, digging, fertilizing and picking produce or flowers are all great options.

  8. Cut the lawn. Get out there and cut the lawn! This seems to be one of people’s least favorite things to do but what a great way to multitask chores and activity. Even on a riding lawnmower, you’re moving a little but if you have the push mower, you’ll burn a ton and get a might even get a little sweat on.

  9. Seasonal yard work. Shovel snow, rake the leaves, freshen up the mulch or plant flowers. Don’t put off your seasonal yard projects. Jump into those projects so you can get your body moving.

  10. Sweep + clear. Another easy yet necessary part of keeping your outdoor area tidy. Sweeping walkways, porches, garages and drive ways helps keep things looking fresh and keeps you moving.

  11. Clean the windows. Windows always need cleaning. Sometimes they get a little neglected. A simple spray from the inside to wipe down windows and sills create another way to burn a little energy.

  12. House cleaning. Isn’t there always something to clean or tidy up? Grab the vacuum, sweep the floors, wash the floors, clean the bathrooms, make beds, freshen up throw pillows, put a load of laundry in or change the sheets. The opportunities for movement are endless when cleaning the house.

  13. Play with your kids. Run around and have a little fun with your kids! Have a game of tag, teach them to ride bikes, go fishing or do a board game.

  14. Play ball with the dog. Having a dog is great for many reasons but they can also be great to get you out and about. Whether it's going for a short walk or throwing the ball, dogs can get you more active.

  15. Fidget. Say what? Since when is fidgeting good? It’s a great thing when any movement counts and fidgeting is movement. Whether you tap your foot, swing your leg or spin a spinner, fidgeting counts toward non exercise movement.

  16. Indoor home projects (other than cleaning). We addressed the lawn and the garden but the inside of your house counts too. You know the room that you’ve been wanting to change the wall color forever? Paint it! Clean out closets, rearrange furniture and hang paintings on the wall. All of these activities, big or small, add up.

  17. Hobbies. Hobbies are fantastic ways to keep active. Whether you are doing a puzzle at the kitchen table, painting on a canvas or doing pottery, they not only teach you a skill but also keep you active in some way. Work on crafts, make jewelry or scrapbook. Try standing as much as possible while doing hobbies rather than sitting to boost your burn.

  18. Clean your car. Another great way to add stay in motion is to clean your car - outside and inside. Head to a “do it yourself” car wash and give your vehicle a good scrub down and a fresh vacuum to keep it looking nice and clean.

  19. Take advantage of your area. Become a tourist in your own city. Go see a new museum, tour a historic home or walk to a new venue to check it out. Let’s say you live by the beach and you want to go shelling — a great way to get a little more active. Maybe you like finding interesting rocks, sea glass or helping with beach clean ups. Whatever it is, finding things and places where you live can be like a whole new experience.

Get Creative With Your Activity

You aren’t limited to our list. Maybe the options above don’t work for increasing your non exercise activity or maybe you just want more ideas. Grab a pen and paper or jot a note on your phone and brainstorm the ways you can get active without actually working out. You might come up with some pretty fun ways to increase your own movement.

Incorporate It Into Your Lifestyle

The next step is to incorporate some of this type of movement into your lifestyle. Here are a few ways how:

  • Start slow. You don’t have to fit in movement every minute of the day. Pick one or two daily options you can do to move more.

  • Look for the small opportunities - even just a few minutes a day.

  • Grab a friend if it will make moving more in the non exercise way more enjoyable.

  • Get creative and have fun with it!

Need help incorporating more movement into your daily lifestyle? Sign up for one of our fitness retreats or check out our additional fitness and nutrition services to help boost your activity level. We offer both in person Personal Training and Online Personal Training to help you move mindfully for your body.