Accidentally fit? Not likely, you’re probably thinking. To be fair, if you’ve ever sweated it out at the gym, played a team sport or pounded the pavement in the name of exercise it’s hard to believe it’s possible to get any such benefit purely by chance.
Like the multiple sneaky treats that add up to a lot of calories or the frequent checks of your smart phone that end up draining the battery much faster than the advertised life, incidental exercise can add up to substantial benefits.
So what is incidental exercise? Tracey Robson-Garth, National Programs Manager (and trainer extraordinaire) for Fernwood Fitness describes it as “the exercise we get from going about our life. It can be anything active; walking to the shops, vacuuming the floor [or] riding your bike to work”.
Seems obvious enough, however in our highly convenient Western lifestyles, we’ve largely done away with a lot of the unintentional active stuff. Instead, we’ve developed this idea of “intentional” exercise (going to the gym, going for a run) and continuously use it as an excuse to forgo incidental exercise. If you’re still not convinced, Dr Anup Kanodia, a physician and researcher at the Center for Personalized Health Care at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center recently declared sitting to be the new smoking. Sound familiar?
With this in mind it’s reasonable to wonder what exactly constitutes active enough. At some point, you’ve probably heard the goal of 10,000 steps a day bandied around. Tracey Robson-Garth explained the history of this target to us – “ the 10,000 steps-a-day’ movement originally came from Japan, when health researcher Y. Hatano proved that 10,000 steps a day was the proper balance of energy intake and activity-based energy expenditure required to maintain a healthy body. Since this discovery, sales of pedometers – handy little strap-on devices that measure your steps – have boomed, and it’s now said that the average Japanese household owns 3.1 pedometers”.
To find out what lengths you need to go to in order to achieve this target, we strapped a Fitbit One to our Editor, Sam and let her go about her day.
Read on to find out how she went and how she managed to reach the target.