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Stay Healthy without a Gym Membership

Published: March 18, 2019

I know you’ve all heard it before - but get active - new research shows that short bouts of intense physical activity (carrying shopping bags to your car, taking the stairs - quickly - or jogging next to your dog in fast bursts) is better for your health than doing nothing. It’s called high-intensity incidental physical activity and it’s 100% better than having a gym membership you don’t use. And if you build enough of it into your day it’s better than steady state cardio (going for a long slow jog).

The study shows this type of regular, incidental activity that gets you huffing and puffing is likely to produce health benefits, even if you do it in 30-second bursts spread over the day.

Until recently, guidelines prescribed activity lasting for at least 10 consecutive minutes. However, this recommendation was recently refuted by the 2018 US Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Report. The new guidelines state that any movement matters for health, no matter how long it lasts.

The advice isn’t new, nor is it rocket-science. Take the stairs instead of the elevator; get off your tram a stop earlier; park further away from the shop’s entrance; and simply- walk faster! The research is telling us that intensity may be more important than duration. This means you need to get your heart-rate up.

Incidental exercise is effective and easy to incorporate into your day, but it’s important to note that doing ONLY this alone, is not the gold-standard for optimal health. The health benefits of other forms of exercise such as resistance training are extensive when it comes to preventing and managing injuries. Doing something is SO much better than doing nothing, but don’t let this stop you from doing that bit extra for your health, such as a structured gym program or fitness class.


Stamatakis, E., Johnson, N. A., Powell, L., Hamer, M., Rangul, V., & Holtermann, A. (2019). Short and sporadic bouts in the 2018 US physical activity guidelines: is high-intensity incidental physical activity the new HIIT?.