Incidental Exercise - Enough To Stay Fit?

Incidental exercise is something that we are now looking to take advantage of.

It took thousands of years for humans to change from hunter-gatherers to a settled society but only about 50 years for us to transition from manual labour to sedentary sitters!

Unfortunately,  this inactive lifestyle is a massive problem for our health, our economy, and our productivity—with 67 per cent of Australians now being considered overweight or obese!

Our ancestors stayed fit by the way they lived, exercise and physical activity was needed for survival and were a regular part of daily life. Incidentally, that’s what ‘incidental exercise’ means (see what we did there). It’s the unstructured physical activity that we do as part of daily living.

So, could incidental activity be the secret weapon to staying fit and healthy just like our forefathers?

Here are some things to consider:

Every minute counts:

The World Health Organisation recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activities five days a week to improve our health. If we put in the effort, the reward is a 20-22 per cent health improvement that incidental exercise provides.

If you are not currently active, then the good news is that shopping, gardening and housework are considered incidental exercise. So, add these to your weekend plans for a health boost. During the week try taking the stairs, walking at lunchtime or work on sitting less. Standing alone burns double the number of calories than sitting—standing desk, anyone?

The best part is you don’t have to do the activity for 30 minutes at a time. You can spread it throughout your day. Break it down to three 10-minute walks for example.


Add some incidental exercise into your day, every day and watch your health, mood and productivity improve.

Set the right intention:

Incidental doesn’t have to mean unplanned. To fully enjoy the benefits of physical activity, make it part of your daily choices. Former Ironman, Guy Leech, believes it’s all about a mindset change. “Pick three to five things that you can fit in your day… and start building a good habit. After a couple of weeks, you will just do it without even thinking,” said Leech.

Unfortunately, incidental exercise doesn’t replace strength or flexibility training, but it is a great way to increase aerobic and cardiovascular activity.

In conclusion:

If you make incidental exercise a part of your daily routine, it can act as your primary weapon in counteracting sedentary behaviour.


  1. Think of ways you can include incidental exercise as a permanent fixture of your day.

  2. Make an effort to sit less and stand more each day.

  3. Stay active on the weekends.

Our early ancestors sure made a strong case for the value of physical activity. So, learn from them and don’t make exercise an accident!

Deliberately incorporate it into your day and watch your health, mood and productivity improve.