How to stay in shape without belonging to a health club

Some people go to the gym or health club to exercise. Maybe it’s the social aspect, variety of fitness equipment, or the other services they provide. Regardless, I’ve never gravitated toward fitness clubs and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s partly the cost. Maybe it’s the lack of hygiene I’ve seen at certain fitness clubs. Or maybe I prefer to exercise around my home or neighborhood instead of making a special trip to the sports complex or fitness center. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, I’ll exercise on my treadmill in the basement or brave the elements and exercise outside. When the weather cooperates, I’ll work around my yard or exercise in or around my neighborhood. Part of my exercise plan at home revolves around raking, transplanting perennials, weeding, trimming trees, or mowing the lawn. I guess I enjoy it. It gives me an excuse to be out in my yard adding value where I can. In addition, I have the opportunity to add character and uniqueness to my yard to help make it more personable.

Some other alternative exercise opportunities…
When I frequent the mall or large department store, I’m a minimalist when it comes to finding a parking space. In other words, I park as quickly as possible. Many people are determined to find the perfect spot but my challenge is to park as quickly as possible. I figure 5 minutes to the store and 5 minutes out, I easily have 10 minutes of exercise before I jump on the treadmill or even walk around the store or mall. In addition, if stairs are not available, I’ll walk up and down the escalator.

If I shop at a department store during good weather, I may leave through the opposite doors.

Sometimes, on weekends while at home, I climb two flights of stairs getting from the basement to the 2nd floor. If I’m busy around the house or cleaning, I can generate 10-15 minutes of exercise without hitting the weights or jumping on the treadmill in the basement.

Mowing the lawn is certain exercise — especially if you mow before the grass needs it, which might be once every 5 days. In addition, if you use a reel mower instead of a gas powered mower, it provides additional upper body exercise (at the very least) as you’re forced to push with some intensity.

Shoveling the snow is certainly exercise. It’s physically demanding but not impossibility if you approach it correctly. When the snow is a 10 inches or deeper, you need to budget much more time to get the work done. If you’re patient and willing to address it taking some time for snow removal, it can be decent exercise and gets you outside during the winter months.

There’s a large park about a mile or so from my house which has a few different walking/jogging trails. To streamline and avoid driving, I try to bicycle there and then walk or run. It takes longer so I’m more likely to do it on weekends but provides a good workout and makes me feel good that I didn’t use a car to help me stay fit.

Sometimes, when we’re in town at a social function and only a few miles from home, I’ll either walk to the event or walk home. It provides some variety to me, as I’m not walking the same route.

While watching sports on TV and usually during commercial breaks, I will try to do a number of exercises. This includes some stretching, sit-ups, push ups or working with a few weights. The live action on TV often motivates me to exercise — even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time. I find it’s less guilty spending part of my afternoon or evening watching the game if you can get some exercise during the game. 

Ideally, I’d like to work in an office building on the 3rd or 4th floor, that way, I climb 2 or 3 flights of stairs every time I’m on the 1st floor ready to go back to my office. Once, I worked on the 3rd floor and I’d end of climbing 6-8 flights of stairs each day, excluding going down the stairs.

I try to always be punctual so sometimes I may arrive 10 or 15 minutes earlier as it’s not easy to predict traffic conditions so how to use that time wisely. Often, I’ll take a brief walk around that area before my appointment for a little exercise.

If you have an office job and need a break from work, take a walk instead of eating or browsing the Internet.

If you don’t have a gas powered weed trimmer or want to be eco-friendly, using the manual trimmers can provide some exercise too. If you’re patient and have a little extra time, you can stretch out your legs or back by trimming around trees or other obstacles.
Regarding out of the box thinking, I heard some health conscious people stand during all or part of their day. This increases their muscle mass and burns calories too.


Raking leaves in the fall.

Cleaning and organizing your garage.

Power wash your house, walkway, or driveway.

If you have a few minutes before or after mowing, I’ll try to target a certain area of the yard and weed. It may only be for 10 minutes but provides some stretching and over time, it keeps the weeds at bay.

Wash your car by hand instead of taking it to a car wash. In addition, while you’re at it, might as well vacuum the car(s) too.

In the summer, emptying your dehumidifier (from the basement) into your flower bed in your yard. It’s only one minute of activity but it’s something.

Don’t ever use a bank or restaurant drive-thru unless it’s a severe storm, extreme temperatures or young children are strapped in their car seats.

Instead of a leaf blower, sweep your walkway, driveway, or sidewalk.

Try to clean or organize your basement or crawl space at least once each year. If it can be done in the spring or fall when the weather is cool, it will make the trips up and down the stairs more bearable.

Taking your dog on a walk around the neighborhood.

I’m sure there are many others but these are some of the most common ones that come to mind.

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