Skip to content
Back Back to Insurance menu Go to Insurance
Back Back to Holidays menu Go to Holidays
Back Back to Saga Magazine menu Go to Magazine
Search Magazine

Easy exercises to do at home – without even noticing

03 September 2015

You don't need to join a gym to get fit. Here are 10 simple ways to trick yourself into doing more exercise in everyday life.

Woman carrying a basket - an easy way to do more exercise
'Carry a basket instead of using a trolley to work the muscles in your arms and build up strength in your bones,' advises Diana Moran.

It's never too late to start exercising, and see a huge improvement in your health as a result.

A relatively small amount, such as walking or cycling for just 20 minutes a day, for instance, can reduce a 60-year-old's risk of heart disease by a fifth, according to a new study from Sweden.

The researchers also found that regular light spells of exercise were more beneficial than long and vigorous ones. So every little helps...

1. Hide the phone

OK, actually hiding the phone could prove to be counterproductive. But rather than keeping your cordless or mobile phone by your side at home, leave it in another room so you have to move – quickly – to answer it. 'And when you're chatting on the phone, resist the urge to slump into an armchair,' says personal trainer Lee Pickering from DW Fitness Clubs. 'Keep moving around the house while you talk.' Simply standing rather than sitting can burn up to 50 more calories in an hour.

10 ways to get fit without going to a gym

2. Choose a basket

Only buying a few items in the supermarket? 'Carry a basket instead of using a trolley to work the muscles in your arms and build up strength in your bones,' suggests fitness expert Diana Moran, who's the new ambassador for Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil. 'And if you're driving, resist the temptation to park your car near the entrance so you can fit in a walk to the store and back.' Even better, leave the car at home and walk or cycle instead.

Nine ways to get more out of your walks

3. Lose the TV remote

Remember the days when you had to get up from the sofa if you wanted to change channel? It's time to revisit them. Changing channels manually can burn up to 15 calories an hour, according to a 2012 report from the British Nutrition Foundation. And if you get up and move around during the ad breaks, you'll burn considerably more.

Two minutes an hour to better health

4. Start the day with a stretch

The simple act of stretching improves flexibility and range of motion, which becomes increasingly important as we get older. Yoga expert Abi Mills ( suggests: 'When you wake in the morning, before you even sit up, point your toes, stretch your arms over your head and and stretch our your entire body. Relax and repeat five times. Take a few long deep breaths to start your day full of energy.'

Find out more about yoga

5. Sit and twist

Stuck in a waiting room or sitting at your table at home? 'Make sure your feet are firmly on the floor and that your back is straight,' says Abi Mills. 'Place both hands on to the right thigh or side of the chair and gently take your gaze over your right shoulder. Hold for a few breaths and repeat on the left. Repeat the exercise three times. Doing this daily will improve flexibility in your spine and release and tension in your back.'

6. Ignore the lift

'Whenever possible, use the stairs instead of waiting for the lift,' suggests personal trainer Chris Woodhall from Pure Gym ( Admittedly, a trip to the fourth floor might mean you need to use the lift on the way up – but that doesn't mean you can't walk down again. And don't feel intimidated by those hassled-looking types who scurry up the stairs two at a time: they're actually burning significantly less calories than those of us who tread on every step, according to a study from the University of Roehampton.

7. Potter!

At a loose end? Tidy the kitchen drawers, clear out your wardrobe or do a spot of light dusting. Pottering around the house for two hours a day could burn enough calories to take three inches off your waistline over time, according to recent research from the University of Queensland.

Why not do a spot of gardening to get fit? 

8. Turn the heating down

Obviously, we're not suggesting you sit there shivering. But if you've taken our advice to do a spot of pottering, try turning the heating down to encourage yourself to keep warm by moving for a while longer. You can turn it back up again when you've finished.

9. Pack your cupboards wisely

Think only a fool would store the teabags on the top shelf and the biscuits at knee level? Actually, there's method in this madness. 'Storing items you use regularly in low and high cupboards will keep you moving and reaching to improve flexibility,' says Chris Woodhall.

10. Fill up the calendar

You don't need to plan a trip to the gym or a six-mile hike to ensure you get enough exercise. 'However, filling the calendar to ensure you always have something booked in – whether that's tidying up the garden, meeting a friend for coffee or going to an exhibition – will save you from the lure of a couch potato lifestyle,' advises Chris Woodhall. Ultimately, the trick to building more exercise into your day is to keep busy.


Saga Magazine is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site or newsletter, we may earn affiliate commission. Everything we recommend is independently chosen irrespective of affiliate agreements.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

Related Topics