Fit Without Actually Working Out? Yes Really!

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

By Fitness Editor Paula Jager CSCS, owner of Crossfit Jaguar, Tampa FL

We’ve had quite a few posts on weight lifting, interval training and CrossFit exercise in general. If you’re already involved in a program like that good for you!! Keep on doing what you’re doing–I bet you feel & look great.

But what about a program or ideas for those that don’t want to put forth that much effort and commitment or the expense of joining a gym?

Is there an in between ground or something that they can do that requires less time and effort yet will still yield some positive results? And what about people facing health challenges that are physically not able to put forth that type of intensity?

Of course there is. . .

I tend to be a tad militant in my opinion on the subject and the amount of effort I feel someone should put forth and rarely tolerate excuses. However, everyone is not motivated by that type or persona and does not care to be that fit. Is something better than nothing? Yes, even minimal efforts can induce some results. Some specific examples are as simple as the following.

Grocery shopping: Most of us do this. To start, park a good distance from the entrance so that you will have a ways to walk both to and fro the store. I have 2 pet peeves when I go grocery shopping. The first one being seemingly healthy people having the bag person wheeling their groceries out to the car. Seriously, folks?

I realize they are being paid a wage by the store but they’re not your servants. Wheel the cart out to your vehicle which you parked a considerable distance and put the groceries into it. Cases of water, bags of cat litter or dog food and the like are great functional items for you to bend down and put into your vehicle. Good use of the legs, upper body and core. Then you also get to carry them into your house when you get home. And the second–please bring the buggy back. Walk it back into the store and place it inside. Don’t leave it in an empty parking space for your “servant” to get. There are more important things they can do to make the store better for you.

Laundry: Yet another chore most of us must attend to. How about 10 squats every time you put in a load in the washer, 15 sit ups every time you put a load in the dryer and 10 push ups each time you put a load away. Can’t do a full push up? No problem, keep the core tight and in a rigid line from shoulders to ankles and do them off a dresser or even off the bed for a slightly unstable surface.

Working outside the home: Many of us are stuck inside an office all day and have sedentary jobs. Again, park a distance from the entrance–the walk will do you good. If you are fortunate enough to have stairs, use them in lieu of the elevator. Take several short “exercise breaks” throughout the day. In between meetings, calls or projects knock out sets of 10-15 squats and lunges. Do push ups and dips off your desk. Pick up a paper weight or object weighing 10 to 30# and do swings to strengthen the lower back. Stretch out your hamstrings by placing a leg up on your chair and bending forward. Do a series of neck and shoulder stretches seated or standing to reliever some stress and tension. Practice deep breathing exercises periodically. You’ll be surprised how this will help you de stress, improve mental clarity and lead to increased productivity.

Working inside the home: Much easier for you to be active; make a “game” out of housework, vacuum with gusto, if you have stairs make extra trips up and down them each day. If you have a yard or garden, get out on your hands and knees, get dirty and connect with the earth.

Clean out those closets you’ve been meaning to. Reorganize your furniture for a new look or clean out the garage. Getting rid of clutter will also help clear the mind. On the weekends when I am home actively cooking, doing laundry and other tasks I rarely sit until late afternoon or evening. Being active and busy are great ways to get in some low level activity not to mention get things done.

Watching TV: Minimize the amount of time spent in front of it and lose the remote. Most people sit at least 10 feet from the television to watch it. Getting up and down to change the channel could get you several bouts of movement in despite the short distance. You could even lunge to the set, change the channel and lunge back to the couch. Every bit counts–20 jumping jacks every time you change the channel or walk to the refrigerator.

Another idea is to get one of those big exercise balls and gently bounce for 20 minutes while you are mindlessly flipping the channels after dinner.  Do this for a few weeks and you will definitely notice the difference in your quads and backside.

Playing with your children: go to the park with them, play with them if you are able, make it fun, brings games, play ball and discourage over use of video games, computers and television. You must join them and set the example if you expect them to follow in your healthy footsteps.

It all adds up folks. You may not look like the cover of a fitness magazine or win a local competition, but I seriously doubt that is your goal anyway!   In your own life, however, these little things will definitely help you feel better, look better, sleep better, have improved energy and notice improvement in your activities of daily living and life in general.  That’s really what ultimately counts after all!

Now get moving !


Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar.

Her exercise and nutrition programs yield life changing results


Comments (46)

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  3. One thing I used to do while watching tv was for each commercial do either pushups, situps, squats, or some type of (fairly) stationary exercise. Change it up with each commercial and rest during the show. Then in an hour show you’re pretty much guaranteed 15 minutes of exercising. We no longer watch tv (5 years ‘clean’) so I don’t get this opportunity anymore.

    Also, in my commute to work, I sometimes do leg raises in the car. Just raise my leg a couple of inches off the seat 10-15 times and switch. I started doing it when I was tired and driving home late at night.

  4. I think everyone needs to quit taking things so personally. The article was supposed to be tips for people that don’t want a regular workout/gym routine to stay fit doing stuff around the house. That’s all it was – tips and ideas – take them or leave them. I don’t think Paula’s comments about the lazy people at the grocery store were meant for people that aren’t physically able to carry out their groceries. I think she was talking about the majority of people who take advantage of the carry-out service who ARE physically able to do it themselves. And if you aren’t someone who can physically do it – why get caught up in what someone else thinks? We spend way too much time worrying about others’ perceptions of ourselves… so what if someone thinks something untrue about you? You know the truth. You should be confident in yourself. Don’t get hung up on worrying about what others think because you’re always going to have people that have misconceptions about you. Didn’t we all learn that lesson in middle school?

  5. paula, it doesn’t matter if you don’t accost people in the parking lots.. we who look SEEMINGLY healthy feel super self-conscious about those of you who look down upon us for being seemingly lazy. You said here what many of us worry that everyone THINKS. It’s offensive.

  6. Oh Paula, I want to live in your world….! so funny. At 5′ 7″, how on earth would I fit in my ‘laundry room’ to do squats or push ups? It’s a 5×5 closet right in the eating area of my kitchen! My eating area is just about big enough to hold the round table to seat 8 of us at most meals, and we have to push the table back and forth just to get through to the laundry/storage room. And it’s filled with grain, rice, and salt buckets for all the food I make from scratch. I also use the tops of my washer and dryer for storage.

    When I watch tv, it’s either while standing in my kitchen making fermented foods and all meals for my family, or while reclining on my love seat to get the swelling out of my ankle that happens from standing or driving 8-10 hours most days as a homeschooling, homemaking housewife. I’m not really concerned with my cardio at that point in the day. It sounds like you don’t watch tv, because most tv viewing devices from this century don’t have the mechanics to let you ‘get up and change the channel’ without a remote.

    As as for playing with my children…. I’ve been a Mom for almost 27 years, and my youngest (a boy) is only 10. I’m tired. I don’t play ball, or kick soccer balls, or ride scooters with them any more (3 boys total, 4 girls total)! I teach them, drive them, read to them, cook for them, go to church with them, and more. We keep our chickens and tend our garden and I have to walk up and down stairs every time I leave the house, because our house is 13 steps off the ground. yet I still have a thick middle. and nothing is going to get the sag out of my abdomenal skin from being pregnant 5 times between the ages of 27 and 44, or get the droop out of my breasts from nursing said children over a 2- year period. or get the wiggle out of my upper arms after losing 45 lbs by changing my eating habits. Because it’s genetic. I can get thin and firm but the sag is never going to go away except by a surgeon’s blade.

    Thanks for the exercise tips. I’ll pass them on to my daughters. :-)

    I know you mean well and you’re very enthusiastic and driven from all those endorphins of working out. I’ll keep reading your blog and smiling.

  7. Working out does not mean you need to exercise., You can workout in different ways like doing chores at your home, climbing stairs and go shopping on foot. These things does not feel like workout but are very effective for staying fit.

  8. Great tips. I spend a ton of time on my computer every day at home, but use an exercise ball instead of a chair – this lets me bounce, do bounce squats, move around, etc while I work (studies have actually shown that kids who use bouncy balls in school instead of chairs actually have better focus and fitness, because their bodies are kept busy, allowing their minds to focus better).

    I also keep an exercise band on my desk, so I can grab it and do some twists for an extra ab workout.

    As to the “seemingly fit” comment, as another reader posted, some of us look like we should be capable, but aren’t so. Sure,some people are just plain lazy, but when it comes to having someone carry bags out or heavy lifting, I always give the benefit of the doubt. I had a bad car accident ages ago and despite physio 2-3x/wk, acupuncture, yoga, gym work outs, etc there are good and bad days. On good days I do everything I can, on bad days I only do what won’t cause a migraine!

    • To the commentors on the “seemingly healthy”. . . what do you all think I do, accuse and accost people in grocery store parking lots? Of course not. This was in reference to people that don’t need the help and are just lazy. They may not always be recognizable but they know who they are.

      Anyone with health issues, 9 1/2 months prego and other challenges certainly needs some help. That’s what those workers are there for. We all might be in that situation at some point in our lives and be grateful for it.

  9. While I agree in general, please be careful about assumptions on “seemingly” healthy people. Watch for the invisible illnesses – I have family and friends with MS and fibromyalgia. I don’t have these but I still have had times when I’ve parked close, not put the cart back, and let the baggers carry my groceries out. Each time there has been a reason – small child with me, pregnant, exhausted from being up all night with a small or sick child, etc. Occasionally, and usually when pregnant or with several children in tow, grocery folks have put groceries into the car because they wouldn’t take a reasonable “no” for an answer, so I gave up and let them help!

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  11. I can’t believe Paula is the guest writer today! That’s so awesome! My trainer, Janet, is in the photo. I can’t wait to tell her that I saw her on your blog during my training session at Jaguar CrossFit tomorrow. I’m still in the Foundations class but am learning a ton and am loving every (difficult, sweaty, butt-kicking) minute of it! :)

    • I used one at work instead of my work chair for about a year. It was great until it started to deflate daily. I will have to get another one. It was kinda like working out while at work.

  12. Love this, its how I’ve stayed fit for years. With 30 acres and animals always something to do including moving hay bales, 50# feed sacks. We walk our property for pleasure. And trimming back growth in N FL is a never ending full body exercise. We usually hang our clothes, another good one for keeping arms looking good. I do ballet barre exercises holding onto a chair or practicing my balance while watching TV or waiting for tea water to boil. I take free weight breaks or stretching at work and never sit down unless I need to write if talking on the phone. Starting doing this about 7 years ago seriously when changed our diet and down 30 # with a thyroid issue and hitting menopause.

  13. Blanca Villanueva Perez via Facebook November 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    THANK U!!! I’m not a gym person (tried and even had a trainer), I always knew there was a better way for me. =)

  14. “seemingly healthy people”….there’s that word…’seemingly’. My older sister has rheumatoid arthritis and did without a handicapped plate/sticker/tag for much longer than she should have out of a determination to do it herself.
    I had a stroke in 1994 and although I looked well enough, fatigue, muscular weakness, etc had me choosing my battles. I let them carry my groceries out and put them in my car so that I could go home & get them OUT of the car & put away before I had to rest for an hour. Simply driving to the grocery store was a triumph for me…the first time I did insist on taking them out to the car, loading them in , take them home & put away…I was literally useless for the next 48 hours. That taught me a valuable lesson…do what you can when you can but the ‘seemingly healthy people’ could be just that.”seemingly’…there are a LOT of problems that prevent people from doing their own groceries…cut them some slack. I had to do it again before I had shoulder surgery & again after…I was told NOT to use a sling, but no weight on that arm either. So there can be a number of reasons that we don’t. And on a personal note, I highly resent people making assumptions about my ‘fitness’ to do something…just like the guy that chewed me out for using my handicapped tag post-stroke…that was the first outing for me with my kids alone….and I was very proud of myself that day….and he utterly and completely destroyed that feeling of achievement. I simply informed him that I was the one who had the stroke….and burst into tears. I sincerely hope that his wife gave him h3ll for what he said. And Sarah, I expect better from your blog and guest writers.

  15. These are great ideas, especially for those of us who have serious injuries that nobody can see. I always feel embarrassed when I ask the grocery people to help me to my car, but I wasn’t able to pull down the back hatch on my car for several months, and sometimes still have days when things are so out of whack that adding the stress of a case of dog food is a bad idea.

  16. There’s nothing like farm life to keep you active and in shape. Especially if you don’t own a tractor and have to use a shovel and wheelbarrow for everything. I love it!

  17. Is there anything besides walking and physical therapy for someone with back and neck injuries? My problem is inoperalble as far as repairing my back with surgery and my muscles have really wasted away since my injury in January-1996.

  18. Rochelle Ferguson via Facebook November 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I actually enjoy the gym. I go early in the am before the kids get up. The gym is quiet and practically empty then. I put on my ear phones and pretty much have the place to myself. It’s about the only alone time I get and I can work at my own pace.

  19. Pingback: Fit Without Actually Working Out? Yes Really! | CookingPlanet

  20. Sara James via Facebook November 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Tabatas example: 20sec all out pushups, rest 10 sec, 20sec all out burpees, rest 10 sec, 20sec all out fast air squats, rest 10sec, 20sec all out fwd to reverse lunges, rest 10sec. Repeat cycle 4 times with a one minute rest at 4min mark. You can download a tabatas app that beeps for the interval periods if you don’t want to use a stopwatch etc.

  21. Maria Szucsova via Facebook November 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I hate gyms, but persuaded myself to go and sign up for the one that is up the road. Not sure, whether is it a sign from somewhere up there :) but they decided to close that gym down on 30 November… 😀

  22. Sara James via Facebook November 19, 2012 at 11:04 am

    These are great ideas, although I’m too undisciplined to do pushups, sit ups, etc between laundry. I really like putting together Tabatas workouts. They only take about 9 minutes and I’m sweating and out of breath. Another good source is Dr Al Sears’ PACE program. Tabatas and PACE are very similar in terms of getting your heart rate up very high for short periods and then a brief recovery.

  23. Melissa O'Callaghan via Facebook November 19, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I love this Sarah, I always park far away from the store and I work out my legs by playing super hero with my kids. We also have dance competitions to burn some calories :)

  24. Melissa O'Callaghan via Facebook November 19, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I love this Sarah, I always park far away from the store and I work out my legs by playing super hero with my kids. We also have dance competitions to burn some calories :)

  25. Anastasia Borisyuk via Facebook November 19, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I’ve never even been to a gym, but people look at me and think “You must work out”. Yes, chasing my kids and doing housework :)


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