Fitness and Exercise: Ways to Exercise if You Hate to Work Out

Reviewed on 12/17/2020

Video Games

You can expend more calories engaging in many sports-related video games than you could exercising on a treadmill.

You can fence, box, dance, and play virtual tennis, basketball, and other sports. In one study, people who walked, ran, and climbed on a special mat during a fantasy role-playing game did more exercise than if they'd spent the same amount of time on a treadmill. As a bonus, if you play active games, you're more likely to do more "non-gaming" exercise.


Chores like washing the car and mopping the floors count as exercise.

Want to get two things done at once? You'll get a "moderate" workout if you wash and wax your car, clean out the gutters, or mop or vacuum the floors. It'll help get you in better physical shape, and a clean car or house may boost your mental well-being, too.


Gardening helps you expend a decent amount of energy.

You might not think of it as exercise, but if you dig, bend, and clip around your garden for 30 minutes or so, you'll get a decent workout. And it may even put you in a better mood. If you don't have a plot of your own, consider volunteering at a community garden. They can probably use the help.


Sex burns approximately 5 calories per minute.

You'll burn around 5 calories a minute, about as many as with a brisk walk. And you'll use about the same amount of oxygen as if you were raking leaves. Plus, research shows that it may help prevent heart disease, though that only seems to be true if you’re in a healthy relationship.


Walking and hiking while geocaching counts as exercise.

If you like to take walks with a purpose, look online for secret "geocache" spots in cities, parks, or along hiking trails. You follow clues, usually GPS coordinates, to track them down. You could find a prize in the cache or sign your name in a journal that proves you were there.


Dancing is a workout for your muscles, heart, and lungs.

It can be social, and it's lots of fun, even if you do it by yourself. It can tone your muscles and strengthen your heart and lungs. It also might lift your spirits. All you need is a bit of music to get your groove going.

Take That Meeting on the Go

Walking meetings are a way to get a little exercise while being productive.

When you need to talk with a co-worker, hit the trail (or sidewalk) and kill two birds with one stone. You'll get some exercise,and it might also make your meeting more creative. Just keep it to no more than two or three people. More than that can make it hard to really engage.

Join a Team

Join a sports league to be active and social.

Whatever your interest or skill level, there's probably a sports league in your area that will work for you. You'll be less likely to skip out because your teammates will count on you for practice sessions and games. And the heat of competition could make you forget you're getting a workout.

Outdoor Sports

Informal outdoor activities like playing catch and throwing a frisbee help you be more active.

If you like to be outside but don't want to commit to a league, head to the park and join a pickup game of whatever's going on: soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, touch football. Even playing catch will get you moving around.

Indoor Sports

You can swim, play racket sports, and do many outdoor activities indoors.

Don't want to deal with hot or cold weather? Indoor games can get your competitive juices flowing, like basketball, racquetball, or volleyball. You can do many "outdoor sports" -- like swimming, soccer, and tennis -- indoors, too.

Interval Training

Short bursts of activity may offer similar benefits to longer workouts.

Just three 20-second "sprint" intervals -- running or cycling, for example -- seem to offer about the same benefit as a 50-minute jog. Even with the warmup, cool down, and rest between intervals, that's just 10 minutes of your time, compared with almost an hour for a run. Ask your doctor if you haven't exercised in a while, and start slow.

Batting Cage

Hitting balls in a batting cage counts as exercise.

You can practice your swing for a team if you're on one, or relive the glory days of your youth. Either way, you'll likely have to concentrate so hard on the ball coming at you that you won't have time to think about how you're getting some exercise. Just be sure to wear a helmet.


Take extra steps when you can to add to your activity level for the day.

This doesn't have to be a purposeful stroll. Park at the back of the lot when you go to the store. Walk over to your co-worker to tell them something in person rather than send an email. When you take out the trash or pick up the mail, keep going around the block. All those steps add up.

Martial Arts

Get into shape and learn self defense by practicing martial arts.

Get into shape while you learn how to defend yourself. It helps you focus your attention and may keep your brain sharper than sports like running. And "light" contact types like karate, judo, and taekwondo are pretty safe, compared with other sports, as long as you train with a qualified instructor.

Zombie Runs

Being chased during a zombie run is a different way to get physical activity.

You say you'll only run if something's chasing you? Well, that can be arranged. Zombie courses often have obstacles to get over or creeks to run through and may run on mud-covered trails. And if that's not enough motivation, members of "the living dead" watch from secret locations and jump out to steal your vital organs (in the form of flags) as you try to finish the race.

Fitness and Exercise: Ways to Exercise if You Hate to Work Out

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