Incidental Exercise

I was talking to my great friend Mark about how I had started a little experiment where I introduced micro-bursts of exercise whenever I could throughout the day. Just taking the opportunity to walk and move.

Mark turned casually and stated – “I call that incidental exercise”. 

He went on to describe it as exercise we get ding our daily activities which contributes to your overall exercise, weight, fitness and wellbeing.

It’s been reported that sitting is the new smoking.

And we have lots of meetings.

All of these involve sitting down in a room. Often for long periods of time. Sedentary.

Steve Jobs had a solution – walking meetings.

Steve would meet people for a meeting and walk and talk.

Pretty cool.

But not all of us have the scheduling power of Steve Jobs.

And not everyone wants to walk with me for our meetings. And what if it’s dark, or cold, or too hot or raining?

Let’s accept for the moment that walking meetings aren’t going to be adopted across the board.

Some progressive thinkers and good friends will roll in with it, but you’re not going to get huge take-up.

Now turning back to Mark’s incidental exercise.

It doesn’t replace your specific exercise sessions but adds to it.

Let’s explore incidental exercise.

Get up every 45-60 minutes from your chair and walk or stretch.

Walk to the coffee shop and post a letter on foot.

Take the stairs rather than the lift.

Park away from your meeting and walk to and from.

Go out at lunch and take a longer route back.

Go to parks for coffee or lunch and allocate some walking time before returning to the office.

Walk the dog every day. Even if it’s just up and down your street if time poor.

The main concept here is to be creative and come up with weird and wonderful ways to introduce incidental exercise to your day.

These little bursts of incidental exercise can make a big difference.

And I’m not just talking physically.

Creating mini-breaks from your sedentary position at the laptop is a game-changer for your mental capacity also.

By breaking the cycle of the ‘sedentary state’, the mind resets and is more creative and fresher upon your return.

But how do we prompt ourselves during our busy days to constantly introduce incidental exercise?

Let me share some techniques.

Boring but effective – set your phone alarm periodically.

I walk before and after each meeting to pre-brief and post-brief myself. This is habit forming.

Using a Fitbit (pedometer) to measure my steps and target 10,000 + steps per day creates a measurable goal.

I play little games to introduce incidental exercise whenever I can proactively throughout the day and acknowledge these moments.

By keeping a weekly checklist of all activity, I can track my progress over time.

And the really cool thing about incidental exercise is that it sneakily adds more movement (steps) to my day.

So even when I have a busy day with lots of meetings, I still get some movement in.

Incidental exercise acknowledges that life is never perfect and it’s a great wicket-keeper for when your day gets hijacked and that planned fitness activity doesn’t happen.

The other amazing benefit is the re-setting of my mental state and creative flow that benefits from the physical movement, day-dreaming and change in scenery.

So, let’s all embrace incidental exercise.

It’s the silent friend that you want to engage on your team for benefiting your body, mind and spirit.

I’d love to hear your ideas on how you’ve introduced incidental exercise in your day.

Email me at to schedule a meeting (at no cost or obligation) to discuss how I can help you achieve your business and personal goals this financial year.