incidental, intentional exercise | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


A few weeks ago, I started a new exercise plan. I was motivated. I was focused. I was 100% dedicated to seeing it through. And then my world kind of imploded. My husband’s accident and becoming a full-time student once more came in the same week. I could have handled maintaining my exercise plan and full-time school. But the added responsibility I’m carrying in the weeks following his accident? It’s just too much. I can’t keep up.

But that doesn’t mean I’m sitting around, doing nothing because I can’t devote myself to my original plan. I’m getting exercise where and when I can, and making the most of every step. You can do it, too. No, taking the stairs isn’t as effective as weight lifting or a thirty minute run, but it’s a heck of a lot more effective than sitting on the couch!

Incidental exercise is the exercise you get in the regular course of the day. The walking the kids to school, the carrying grocery bags, the carrying your toddler to bed at the end of a long day. Don’t scoff. One little activity doesn’t do much, but one little activity on top of one little activity on top of one little activity… now you’re getting somewhere! That’s where the intentional part of my title comes in. Figure out how to add more and more of these activities to your daily life. A few ideas to get you started:

  • walk or cycle to your job or school (taking all the necessary precautions, of course). In good weather, I cycle the five kilometers to my university, and back. In bad, I take the bus, then it’s a fifteen minute walk from my stop to the school. And the same in reverse. If I miss the bus, I sling my backpack over my shoulder and start hoofing it. Sure, it’s a 45 minute walk, but I’ll be home before the next bus gets there.
  • take the stairs. My classes are on the seventh floor. Rather than waiting with the throng of other students for the slowest elevator in existence, I head for the stairs. I get there first, too 🙂
  • park further away. For those of you that must take your car to work, why not park a kilometer or so away, and then walk the rest of the way?
  • cleaning the house/windows. You don’t think of that as a workout? Think again. Change all the bedding. Move the furniture and really vacuum. Wash the windows.
  • lawncare. Oh my goodness, I’d forgotten how much work the yard actually takes until Jesse had his accident and it fell on my shoulders. I’ve hired someone to come trim the hedges (because they’d look like my 5yo had trimmed them if I tried) but the rest I’m tackling as best I can. Mowing, raking, cutting back the garden for winter… that’s real work, people!
  • wash the car. It needs to be done, right? If you really want to feel the burn, wax it, too. Your husband will look at you with awe and reverence, and your tricpes will whimper get a great workout!

These are just a few of the ways I’m using incidental, intentional exercise to maintain my fitness level until I can get back to working out. I hope they’ve given you some ideas!

What are some ways you fit exercise into your day when you can’t make time for a real workout?

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Mom, housewife, daughter, sister, friend. All-around good person. Expat, French speaker. Introvert. Vegan with leather furniture. 30-year dieter, now retired from the sport. Making peace with my body as it is while continuing to improve what it can be