What counts as exercise? 10 daily activities you already do

Only 23% of adults in the United States meet all guidelines for weekly exercise, according to Centers for Disease Control and Preventionalthough studies have found that people do Understand the health benefits of exercise And you want to exercise more.

So what does it give? There are a lot of reasons why people don’t exercise more. You may not have the time or energy, or you may not have the equipment or equipment that you feel you need.

But as you might imagine sport shoessports bras and weight seats When you think of ‘exercise’, you don’t You have to me Get to the gym To meet the CDC guidelines for physical activity. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2018 National Health Statistics Report, which contains 23% of the statistic, did not mention the word “exercise” once. Rather, it is about physical activity and movement – whether for work, play, or on the orders of a doctor.

For most of human history, physical activity has been incorporated into people’s daily lives in the form of work and chores. These days, people spend more time sitting on sofas, office chairs, and cars. But our lives still require physical movement every day, and it may be easier to meet your daily exercise quota with activities you need to do anyway (like mowing the lawn) rather than taking extra time to do a custom workout.

Rethinking your idea of ​​exercise may inspire you to become more active—and not necessarily missed if you skipped the gym in favor of sweeping. Here’s what you need to know.

A person walking a bulldog carrying a paper bag and a skateboard.

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Can daily activities really count as exercise?

Short answer: Yes. “Your body cannot distinguish between bending over to pick up a lawn and bending over to pick up a bell,” he explains Robert S. Herbstpersonal trainer and world champion in weightlifting.

Experts divide exercise into two categories: formal exercise and informal exercise. According to Mike Murphy, owner and chief physiotherapist in Ireland fast In the clinic, most people don’t see casual exercises like the actual ones. “This may be because informal exercise is difficult to quantify – one hour of walking appears to be easier to measure than housecleaning,” Murphy said. “But the truth is that many daily tasks consume much more energy than light exercise.”

“Every day walking up and down, to the shops, carrying things, hanging clothes to dry, etc. – all of these activities accumulate and over the course of weeks and months can greatly affect our energy balance (contributing significantly to weight gain or weight loss) “.

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In fact, even some formal training deliberately imitate “Primary movement patterns that represent our daily movement patterns for life” such as squatting, pushing, pulling and twisting, such as Brian Nunez, Nike’s lead coach and performance coach, he said. These programs are known as “job training”. Meanwhile, an exercise regimen that includes daily activities rather than formal exercise is also called NEAT exercise, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

So, in short, don’t rule out all the physical activities that you do without the intention of exercising. Non-exercise activities are a great way not only to improve your health, but also to complete tasks more easily and reduce your risk of injury (no more pulling on the muscles carrying groceries).

Here are 10 daily activities that count as exercise, according to experts.

A young man with a prosthetic leg sweeps the leaves on the deck.

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Yard or garden care

Anyone who has ever mowed their lawn by hand in the height of summer knows it’s a real exercise. “Aside from the low impact and cardiovascular benefits, lawn mowing requires a lot of basic movement patterns in the setting process, mowing and cleaning,” Nunez explains.

Other types of yard work that are great exercise include gardening, weeding, shoveling snow or foliage, and more.

Running errands

Who said your daily hour-long walk couldn’t get through the aisles of Target? Seriously, though, errands often involve a lot of walking, carrying, lifting, and other movements.

House cleaning

House cleaning can involve a wide range of physical movements – going up and down stairs, carrying things from room to room, pushing and pulling a mop or broom, and more.

Take a dog ride

Do we need to say more? You may be busier with your puppy’s daily walks, but don’t forget that you’ve started your stride around that time as well.

Elderly woman walking a small fluffy dog ​​on a tree-lined street.

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walk anywhere

You may have heard that Sitting for long periods is bad for you. But getting up and moving your body every 30 minutes or so is helpful, and walking is a great exercise, period — whether it’s in the mailbox, down the hall to wave to a co-worker or for a snack.

Race “I’m Late”

If you use public transportation regularly, you will likely get plenty of light to moderate intensity activities throughout your days just by getting on the bus or train. And if you’re running late and have to run a bit, that’s all the effort.

playing with children

Do you have children in your life? Engaging in their play, rather than watching from the nearest sofa or bench, will cause you to run out of breath very quickly.


Maybe you like to go out dancing, or maybe you’re the “dance solo in pajamas” type. Either way, know that dancing can be a great full-body and cardio workout, too.

Young woman dancing with a small child in a spacious house.

Hispanolytic / Getty Images


Have you heard of Laughter Yoga? One 2014 study I found laughter yoga to be a better muscle exercise than back stretching. Therefore, the more humor you find in your day, the better.

have sex

sexuality is also Medium intensity exercise. Although of course it depends on the specific activity, it is used until More energy than weight training.

To learn more about staying fit without the gym, learn How to check if you are healthy without any tools or tests And the What vitamins should you already be taking.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to provide health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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