CBF guide to Incidental Exercise

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After nearly 10 months of being in lockdown. I was finally let back into my office in the city. I take the train, and am luckily enough to live and work very close to both stations.  I have enjoyed working from home, especially as I get 2 hours of my day back avoiding the commute, but one thing I did notice this week is how much more active I am in the office.  I have a fitbit for tracking my steps and heart-rate, and my first day back in the office was nearly double the steps I have been doing while working from home.  That includes taking my dog for a walk every morning and my usual exercise routines.

The reason for this is “incidental” or “unplanned” exercise, which is the small amounts of physical activity you do throughout the day.  So in my case, it was the walk to the train station, walking around the office (the fridge is MUCH further away in an office that at home), walking to meetings, grabbing something for lunch etc.

With so many people forced to work from home for an extended period, it’s little wonder that COVID kilos became a thing. If your dietary intake was exactly the same, meaning your calorie intake remains unchanged, a 50% reduction in your energy usage through less incidental exercise is a simple mathematical conclusion.  Add in the common issue of stress or boredom eating and working from home can potentially be a very unhealthy benefit.

So what kind of things at home will count towards your incidental exercise?  Things like gardening, mowing the lawn, housework, especially sweeping and vacuuming.  If you wanted to increase your incidental exercise further you could go for walks while making those phone calls.  Try and pop on some music and dance around if you have been sitting at your desk for a while and need a break. If you have to go out to the shops try parking a little further away than usual, or maybe even leave your car at home if you just need a few items. Maybe take the stairs instead of using the lift or escalators. Walk up and down every aisle in the supermarket even if you just need one or two items.

You could even incorporate some good deeds into your incidental activities, like bringing the bins in for your neighbours or offering to taked their dog for a walk.  At the supermarket you can offer to help someone carry the shopping, or offer to take someone else’s trolley back to the store front. Not only are you making yourself more active, you are also making someone else’s day.

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