How to work out even when you don’t work out

  • The brain is schematic, but we need to open the “boxes” and integrate physical activity into daily life.
  • Use stairs, answer the phone while standing, walk or ride a bike for urban commuting, park far away, keep necessary things far away, and organize sports activities at work.
  • The body is made to move, so use it.


The brain can sometimes be very schematic. It thinks in boxes with little or no communication between them: worklife into one, love into another, and leisure in yet another. In one-sacred to us runners-there is training. We have to open it at least three to four times a week, and when we play with what’s inside we are happy. Thinking this way, however, limits us: for example, since we think that only what we do during a workout counts as physical activity, we don’t realize that the day is full of cues to move more instead of sitting still. And we end up being overperformers on the day we train and lazy people on the day off. Instead, here are some useful tips for being active all the time, even when you are not exercising.

1. Take the stairs

The elevator is for losers, come on. If you have a few floors to climb (say up to 4, come on) you can easily use the stairs to get there. You’ll burn a lot or more anyway than use the elevator and burning 1 calorie: the one you need to push the button and talk about the weather with the one going up with you.

2. Answer the phone standing up

There used to be corded phones and you couldn’t get more than a few feet away from your desk (unless you were in an American movie, the kind that had a phone with a cord so long it reached from the kitchen to the attic) but today with cell phones you have no more excuses: when you receive or make a call, please get up from your chair or armchair and start going back and forth. One day I stayed home from morning to night, and out of curiosity I looked at how far I had come anyway: 2 kilometers! For a moment I was under the illusion that I was living in a Royal Palace without knowing it.

3. Move around the city on foot or by bike

If your usual commute from home to work is in the range of a few miles, if it’s not raining, if it’s even nice weather, can you tell me what you’re doing locked in a car or bus? Get out a little earlier and walk or ride a bike. There is no excuse not to do it.

4. Park in the farthest place

We all have the myth of parking that consists of two parts: finding it and also as close as possible to where we need to go. What if instead you “purposely* look for the one furthest away from where you need to go? I’m not saying miles away, but in short, not right underneath. You could walk a few hundred yards. A few? Always more than nothing (always repeat the formula “Even a meter is more than zero meters” when you think that walking few meters is the same as not doing any: not true!).

5. Keep what you need as far away as possible

Scattering the things you use most frequently around the house will greatly infuriate those who live with you as well as yourself (because you can’t find them) but going after them will burn some calories. And the remote control should never be kept near you while watching TV-everyone knows that the remote control is kept in the pantry.

6. Get a dog

Since we are also very lazy, the idea of walking for no particular reason is difficult to manage: why would we ever do it? To move? Come on! Unless. you have to. And the threat of Rocky pissing in your living room has always been one of the best motivations to go out.

7. Organize a team at work

Looking for more motivation to move? Organizing a team or an entire league in the place where you work is a beautiful way to force yourself and others to practice during the week and play every few days. Plus it strengthens human relationships within the company or where you work: you get to know your colleagues better or you can finally give that obnoxious HR guy an expulsion foul. Opsss.

8. Don’t get off at your stop

If you use transportation to get around, never get off at the nearest stop but a couple before or after: a few hundred meters walk won’t hurt and will only take a few minutes of your time. Repeat with me, “You. Can. Do. It”

9. When you wait, don’t stand still

Hey, it’s not like you’re a Zen monk! What is this thing that if you’re waiting for the train or the bus you stand still and scan a point infinitely in front of you? Or checking the cell phone maybe. The same is true at the airport-you’ll be sitting later, now you can well walk back and forth and call your aunt or write an email or check RunLovers. All of which you can very well do by walking. There, your bur has eventually arrived: now you can finally sit down. You have earned it.

Crazy stuff? Did you already practice yesterday? So what? When you have such thoughts think about it: you have legs and two arms as well. You can do many things at once but most importantly: your body is not designed to sit still. Now use it.



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