Non-Exercise Activity & Its Importance for Health

Exercise — we all need it for our health. However, when I talk to patients, it’s not as abundant in their lives as they’d like it to be (and as much as I’d like it to be for them). It’s also one of the first things to go when people are stressed even though it helps them manage their stress.

This last year has brought some unprecedented challenges with it. We’ve all been spending a lot more time indoors and not doing the little activities and movements throughout the day that we normally would: going to see someone, going to work or school in person, sitting for longer periods of times without breaks…

The thing is: all that non-exercise activity — the movement in our lives/the activities of daily living that we don’t consider exercise — makes a huge difference on our metabolism and health. 

yellow gloved hand with a blue cleaning cloth on white tile
Legs from the calves down climbing up concrete stairs in grey and orange shoes
Black and white doggy on a leash in the foreground with the bottom half of a walking person in the background outdoors

Cleaning, doing laundry, walking your dog, playing with your kids, going up and down the stairs, pacing around the house — all of these activities are non-exercise activity. And incorporating them throughout the day is beneficial to our health, metabolism, and blood sugar regulation.

There have been a few studies that have shown that the way we think about our movement also plays an impact on our health i.e. if you think of your cleaning, cooking, playing with your kids, and stretching as exercise, your body will reap some additional benefits from that mindset shift. Studies have shown that shifts like that can positively impact blood parameters, blood pressure, and even weight.

So, make sure to move often, and move like you mean it!