10 Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Workouts

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.


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).

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

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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28 thoughts on “10 Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Workouts”

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  1. 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!

  2. ..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?

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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.)

  9. 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)

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

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

  12. 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.

  13. Brilliant article! You have shared great workout ideas. The workout is must, if I feel any pain, I take medicine and then continue with my workout. I loved your ideas for workouts.

  14. Amazing post Mark! I would also like to add that a game of summertime baseball is a great way to be active and exercise without that workout feeling. Also, gardening is also one of the best workouts.

  15. Hey, Thank you for sharing this post.
    I have been looking out for such workouts as I already have very tiring day as a sales rep. Thanks again mark, these workouts are amazing.

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