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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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July 17, 2007

10 Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Workouts

By Mark Sisson
26 Comments

10. Check out the local real estate.

Walking through your neighborhood (or any neighborhood you admire) is a natural workout that is also an effective way to clear your head and reflect on the day. I get a 45-minute walk in while my son is at his music lesson. If you’re tired of walking around your own ‘hood, explore one you’ve been curious about. You just might find a good scoop on real estate while you’re at it.

9. Hike.

Hikes don’t have to be intensive all-day expeditions (though this is a very primal thing to do). Most towns have well-maintained, short hiking trails available nearby if you simply do some digging. Even a brisk walk around the local park is energizing. Make a point of getting out into the fresh air and soaking up a little vitamin-D-recharging sunlight as often as you can. I think 20 or 30 minutes daily of fresh air and light exposure is essential for good health – so do it as often as you can. A “hike” doesn’t need to kill you for days afterwards; an hour and a local hill are all you need.

Every living thing benefits from sunlight - including you.

Raisinsawdust Flickr Photo (CC)

8. Beach games.

If you’re near a lakefront or beach, invest 20 bucks in a good array of Nerf balls, Frisbees and other amateur sports equipment for some carefree physical fun with the family or your buddies. Do this once a week and it’ll feel like socializing instead of a workout (we’ve been doing Sunday group workouts like Frisbee and it’s been a blast). That’s really the whole message I want to reinforce here: exercise is a natural, enjoyable, and refreshing part of life, not another relentless chore on your to-do list. Reframe your mental image of exercise and watch your health improve.

7. Play with the kids.

Nothing beats quality time with your kids. Rough house, toss around a baseball, visit the local pool, have a water balloon fight in the backyard, get into a pillow fight (careful on the last one, dads). Physical play is a bonding activity that doesn’t even feel like exercise.

Incoming!

Tobym Flickr Photo (CC)

6. Rearrange the furniture.

Periodically rearranging your furnishings is great for your mental health, but it’s also a good physical workout. Obviously you wouldn’t do this every week, but if you haven’t given your digs a refresh in a while, try it. All that pushing and pulling is a phenomenal weight-bearing workout session that the gym rats tirelessly replicate. You’ve got your own “gym” at home (and talk about a great way to clear your head and get into the moment).

5. Walk at the mall.

If you’ve got errands or enjoy window-shopping (I’d sooner count fork tines), this is a no-brainer workout. Just take a pedometer and make sure you log a couple miles. I get a lot of emails from people asking about ideal exercise methods and routines, often with the implied assumption that exercise has to be some sort of complicated, separate, intense deal to “count”. Not so. Walking is perhaps the best exercise, and certainly the most natural, of all.

4. Wash the cars.

Turn a Saturday chore into a fun family event. All that scrubbing and waxing is a terrific upper-body workout.

This ought to do it. BWC Flickr Photo (CC)

3. Spring cleaning…party.

Need to get up on the roof and scrape those drains or deal with a loose shutter? That’s an excellent workout, but why not make it fun and get in five or ten of them? Host a neighborhood spring cleaning party where everyone gets together for a few weekends and pitches in on big cleaning and clearing jobs at everyone’s homes.

2. Walk downtown.

Do you have a lively or vibrant downtown district in your city? Walking is something we all need to do more of, and checking out the markets, shops and artists downtown (or beach-side) is a cheap date everyone loves – and you can’t beat people-watching.

Venice Beach

Young Grasshopper Flickr Photo (CC)

1. What’s your best non-workout workout?

You may be “working out” more than you realize…or perhaps not enough. Services are convenient and increasingly affordable, but there’s something to be said for washing your own car and mowing your own lawn. Beats the gym. Playing, walking, chores – these things are not only budget-friendly and socially healthy, they come with the workout built-in. I try to see “chores” as a welcome chance to unwind and recharge (it’s my version of meditation).

Further reading:

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[tags] frugal, chores, free ways to exercise, gym alternatives, workout tips, fitness tips [/tags]

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26 Comments on "10 Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Workouts"

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Ray Sandusky
9 years 2 months ago

Mark, Thanks for including my photo in your blog! I appreciate you telling me about it so I could review your article – good one! Have a great day1!
Ray

Mark
9 years 2 months ago

No problem, Ray – thank you for the photo. Glad you liked the post. Cheers!

Tom Orlando
Tom Orlando
9 years 2 months ago

..curious. Do you consider the Nordic Track an okay workout? I am 71, have always liked the Nordic Track and just this year got one back (for $25 – can’t beat it.) I tend to use it only occassionally for 6 minutes. Otherwise, I am generally active around the house; I’m a vegetarian; have no health problems; no medications; don’t watch TV; don’t sit still very long except to read the paper and eat. What’s your recommendation?

Mark
9 years 2 months ago

I think it’s a great workout, but it’s still important to do some other activities (particularly a blend of low-intensity, resistance, etc.). I once coached a person who gave themselves joint problems because they were doing too much repetitive activity on one machine. Just try to vary it up. Sounds like you’re doing great, Tom.

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[…] 10 Workouts that Don’t Feel Like Workouts […]

Strong One
8 years 3 months ago

How about good ole’ fashion yard work?? Push mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, weed whacking. Any type of landscaping as well!

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[…] out has to mean jogging on a treadmill for miles and miles. Stop with the chronic cardio and start tricking yourself into working […]

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[…] 10 Workouts that Don’t Feel Like Workouts […]

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[…] 10 Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Workouts […]

mikecheliak
6 years 9 months ago

Taking my three doggies(Bichon Poo) and kiddies (human) to this huge open park…finding a place where nobody is around and playing chase the puppies until we are pooped…then do it again!

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[…] isn’t going to ever accompany you to a PrimalCon event, but maybe you can convince him to go for a walk on a nice spring day. Though your mother will never give up her carbs, she’ll love spending Sunday brunch at your […]

Elizabeth
6 years 1 month ago

My favourite workout of all – mall shopping! LOL. I spent a good 5 hours yesterday walking around the mall shopping for clothes. I love Primal Fitness – it allows me to indulge in my favourite activity and consider it an exercise!

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[…] 10 Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Workouts […]

Noctiluca
Noctiluca
5 years 9 months ago

Taking care of my horse! You think washing the car is a good upper body workout? How about currying a muddy horse! Then there is the hauling 5 gallon jugs of water to refill the big water tank, scooping poop, and stacking hay bales. Oh, and of course you COULD go RIDE the horse too! It s a good way to spend the day and it for sure counts as a workout!

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[…] you do for the heck of it, because it’s fun (or you’re trying to procure a mate) and don’t realize you’re actually getting an amazing mental and physical workout. So dance, and don’t worry about looking ridiculous. You’re just acknowledging the […]

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[…] that you do for the heck of it, because it’s fun (or you’re trying to procure a mate) and don’t realize you’re actually getting an amazing mental and physical workout. So dance, and don’t worry about looking ridiculous. You’re just acknowledging the presence of […]

Kelekona
Kelekona
4 years 7 months ago

My favorite workout is pretending that I own a dance-pad video game. Since there is nothing actually keeping score, I’m probably faking medium to hard routines whenever I’ve got a decently-paced song on.

It’s either good for my hips or slowly destroying the joints. (I rarely land on my heels, just the occasional floor-strike.)

Srinivas Kari
Srinivas Kari
4 years 1 month ago

Doing house chores is a huge workout. Cleaning dishes, cleaning the house, drying the clothes, ironing clothes, arranging them in the cupboard, cleaning the toilet, cleaning the kitchen sink, cooking food, etc. All these activities provide amazing exercise for the body, especially if they are performed on a regular basis (now we know why women live so long – the hours they put into doing chores pays great dividends later on in life)

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[…] out has to mean jogging on a treadmill for miles and miles. Stop with the chronic cardio and start tricking yourself into working […]

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[…] the Last Post we talked about the basics of a Primal / Paleo workout plan as described by Mark Sisson.  In this post we will discuss a specific routine that you can […]

LISA H
3 years 6 months ago

Disneyland! And don’t take the tram – walk to the park!

Greg
Greg
3 years 6 months ago

Gathering and cutting wood for a fire. No matter if you are using a chainsaw. Takes muscle control and hand strength.

RickB
RickB
3 years 6 months ago

Putting together IKEA furniture!

DASawyer
3 years 6 months ago

My workout is just plain work. Walking around houses, crawling through crawlspaces, kneeling and standing up repeatedly, loading and unloading, etc.

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[…] 10 Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Workouts […]

Adam Spafford
5 months 17 days ago

These are all great, creative alternatives to traditional workouts. I get bored so easily with conventional exercise, so I need to avoid the chore-like feeling of working out as much as possible. One of my favorite fun alternatives is rock climbing. Looking to check out an obstacle course sometime this week.

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