Getting fit isn’t all about Lycra and sweat, our everyday activities can also work wonders, with a bit of effort
You don’t have to be grunting in a gym or grinding out the laps of the park to get a sweat on. Incidental exercise can be just as beneficial, and much easier to incorporate into daily routines. “It’s any activity that is part of daily living,” says Prof Emmanuel Stamatakis, an expert in physical activity at the University of Sydney, “rather than something that is done for the purpose of fitness, health or entertainment.”
Stamatakis tells me that incidental exercise, which is termed “intermittent lifestyle physical activity” by academics, is under-researched. But a paper he co-authored in 2018 found that sudden bursts of high-intensity incidental exercise – bounding up a flight of stairs, for example – could be highly beneficial from a health point of view, undermining the long-held belief that physical activity has to last at least 10 minutes to be worthwhile. “All physical activity counts and has a health benefit,” says Stamatakis. But how best to incorporate more incidental exercise to your life? The experts weigh in.