How to Exercise (for Lazy People)

Do you hate exercising?

Did you hate gym class as a kid? Do you dread being sweaty and hot? Do you loathe all the exercise advice you get from your friends, the internet, and that over-achieving guy at the gym who’s convinced all your life’s problems will be solved if you “just lift, bro”?

People who give advice about fitness are usually people who love fitness. But gimmicks like “you just need to find a sport you enjoy!” and “once you get into it, you’ll love it!” don’t work on the chronically lazy. Moreover, not everyone has hours to kill and bucks to spend on a fancy gym membership or have a suitable place to jog in their neighbourhood.

Thankfully, there are cheats around this. What we need to understand is that no matter how much you hate it, exercise has a myriad of benefits. You may literally live longer. So here are a few tips to get some exercise into your day without sweating (too much).

1. Walk everywhere. And build walking into your day.

Many of us don’t want to exercise because we don’t want to carve out a portion of our day for it. It doesn’t count as waste, though, if you build exercise into your day.

For example, you need to get to work anyway, so why not build walking into your commute? If you transit, you can get off several stops earlier and walk the rest of the way. Live within 30 minutes of your workplace? Walk the whole damn way! And choose the stairs, not the elevator, when you get to the office.

2. Do tiny little workouts throughout the day.

You don’t have to slog through a 5km jog to reap the benefits of exercise. Doing a little thing here or there counts, and you may even end up expending more effort and energy into each 10-minute chunk than if you’d grinded through an hour-long run.

3. Watch your favourite show during a workout.

Admit it: exercising is painful. But you can mind-over-matter that by distracting yourself with a TV show. Just put on your favorite comedy or thriller while doing squats and push-ups. While studies suggest that entertainment during workouts may lower your rate of exertion, if you’re aiming to just get off the couch, it’s worth trying without missing the much-awaited season finale of your favorite binge. Just be careful not to injure yourself if you need to crane your neck to see the screen!

4. Hang outside with a friend

Instead of inviting your friend over to sit down on the couch and gossip with you, why not go on a walk and gossip instead? Much like the TV trick, when our brains are occupied by something interesting, we often forget about physical discomforts like aching legs and sweaty arms. If you live near a park or a trail, even better. More studies show health benefits of simply being in nature. In fact, there’s even an Association of Nature & Forest Therapy that trains people to guide others in nature for the therapeutic effect.

5. Get a DDR pad.

If you’re a fan of video games, you might want to invest in a Dance Dance Revolution pad. Garage Band isn’t bad too, especially if you bang on the drums. DDR, however, can really get your heartrate up. Loads of people, mostly gamers, have touted the benefits of the popular rhythm-based video game and its offshoots, such as StepMania.

6. Find an active activity you like.

Okay, I know I said in the beginning that for many of us, this is worthless advice, but have you really explored all your options? Have you tried…

  • Birdwatching?
  • Skimboarding?
  • Cricket?
  • Archery?
  • Darts?
  • Rock climbing?
  • Horseback riding?
  • Roller derby?
  • Fencing?
  • Scuba diving?
  • Skateboarding?
  • Ultimate frisbee?
  • Capture the Flag?
  • Laser tag?
  • Tai Chi?
  • Juggling?
  • Curling?
  • Paintball?
  • Quidditch?
  • Dining table table tennis?
  • Skipping stones?
  • Jumping up and down on a trampoline?
  • Running around screaming?

(Okay, avoid the last one).

Yes, some of these sports are more expensive and less accessible than others. Some of them will also require you to join a team. But there’s a reason why weird sports like Quidditch exist – they have a following, people think they’re fun, and who knows, you might agree!

Now, while these are all great ways to get you moving, you probably shouldn’t rely on walking the dog as your main workout. It’s still important to do the odd hike, jog, or swim. But if you’re struggling just to motivate yourself off the couch, every little thing counts.