Why You Need to Be Active Outside of the Gym

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving home from my Krav Maga class followed by an epic grocery shopping trip (I hadn’t been for a while) when I spotted an elderly man on the sidewalk carrying two Trader Joe’s bags, one in each hand.

At first, I thought he was just walking funny. But on closer look, I realized he was using each bag as a weight, lifting each arm in a bicep curl every time he took a step.

That way, he was not only getting the benefit of walking to and from the grocery store—he also got an arm workout to boot.


This man truly understood the importance of staying active and incorporating exercise in his everyday life—not just in the gym.

And we all should take a lesson from him.

Because despite how essential it is to do your interval training, your squats, your pull ups and your burpees—it’s equally as important to keep moving on a regular basis.

Why you need to keep moving

Staying active outside of the gym isn’t just about keeping your weight down.

In fact, on his blog, Mark’s Daily Apple, popular blogger and author Mark Sisson says this about moving regularly:

“It’s what we are meant to do most often, and what we should be able to do – walk around our environment for long periods of time without tiring or complaining about sore joints or needing to stop every few minutes to rest. Regular movement keeps us moving. And yeah, it ‘burns calories,’ but the main reason to move slowly and frequently is to stay mobile, healthy, and alert long into old age.”

Let’s face it: most of us sit way too much. We sit all day at work. We sit when we watch TV. We sit when we’re in the car or when we’re just plain tuckered out.

And unless you live in a city (I’ve been lucky to have lived in three awesome cities over the last four years—it really makes you get out and move more), you may not ever be forced to walk, bike, or move throughout your day.

I’m always shocked when I go to visit my parents, who live in the little town of Camas, Washington, how little walking I need to do.

Because nothing is walkable from their house—as is true in most suburbs or small towns—I have to get in the car to go anywhere, meaning I don’t get much walking or biking in all day long… unless I consciously add it in to my day.

And for most people, that’s the norm, not the exception.

How to be more active in your everyday life

If you’re sitting all day long with little forced activity, it’s time to get moving.

Here are some simple (and fun!) ways to incorporate movement into your daily life:

  • Get a dog. My dog needs to be walked 2-3 times a day, every single day. I take her rain or shine, whether I’m bursting with energy or falling onto the couch in exhaustion.
  • Move while you watch TV. All that sitting isn’t natural, so if you want to watch TV, do it while you’re moving—get a stationary bike and pedal during your shows, do push ups and sit ups during the commercials, or incorporate some yoga into your TV watching.
  • Play with your kids or your nephews. The key word here is play. Playing is natural for animals and humans, and kids still love to do it—but somehow adults have forgotten how. Run around, kick a ball, play on the monkey bars (they’re fun! Really!), play tag, go to a water park, set up a volleyball net in your backyard. Your kids will love it, you’ll be moving—and most of all, you’ll have fun.
  • Take the stairs whenever possible. Avoid elevators (and escalators, unless you walk up them)! This one may be obvious, but I’m still shocked at how many people avoid the stairs like the plague.
  • Take a stroll after dinner. This is common in Europe, because it helps you digest your food, feels good, and gets you out of the house and moving.
  • Walk when you need to think (including at work). The late Steve Jobs was famous for his long walks—and they work. Not only will they get you thinking more creatively, they’ll make you less sedentary and get you out of your office chair.
  • Plan active weekend activities. Set up a bike ride, a hike, a trip to the beach (and don’t just lay there—walk along the sand)—anything that involves movement. If the weather’s crappy, be creative: go ice skating, bowling, swimming (indoors, of course), or heck, go jump in some rain puddles.

Just try it

It may feel foreign at first, but once you start incorporating movement into your daily life, you won’t want to go back.

What are you waiting for? Go walk/bike/hike/move right now!

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2 thoughts on “Why You Need to Be Active Outside of the Gym”

  1. Great point! I totally agree. It’s important to remember that we exercise not only to burn calories and look good, but to feel good on the inside and out. And the reason that moving makes us feel good is because we were meant to do it a lot – not just sit and stare at a computer screen (as I do quite often!).


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