Easy Ways To Exercise As A Couch Potato

Being what is commonly called a couch potato, sloth or lazybone isn’t easy. Especially not when we want to integrate some physical activity into our everyday lives. But how do we go from couch potato to fit? How do we incorporate exercise into our daily routine with as minimal effort as possible? Is it even possible at all? Luckily, it is. If we change the way we think about exercising, and if we broaden our definition of what counts as a workout, anything is possible. Get ready for simple exercises that fit into the daily routine of even the laziest experts. Goodbye couch potatoism, hello sloth workout.


: Staying Fit When Nothing Fits :

I have always had an ambivalent relationship with sports.

In kindergarten, I preferred to stay on the ground rather than climb trees because I was afraid of heights. When I wanted to learn to skateboard in elementary school, it was my parents’ turn to think it was too risky. In high school, unsuitable teachers managed to ruin swimming, athletics, and volleyball for me in one go (some of you may be able to relate).

In short, I was always the type who spent their time dabbling in arts (writing, drawing, playing instruments) rather than being physically active in any way.

During my adult life, I tried my hand at various activities without much success:

I never warmed up to yoga as my restless mind wouldn’t come to rest. Slacklining never worked due to my fear of heights even when I tried to balance directly above the ground (yes, it’s that bad). A trial lesson at the gym gave me a cracked rib after a trainer “corrected” the way I used one of the exercise devices. Jogging always bored me to death and ended abruptly when I suffered a double ligament tear.

Nothing seemed to work, and eventually, in my late thirties I did what any logically thinking human being would have done – I got frustrated and gave up.

When I started working from home the little exercise I got from commuting to the office for 2.5 hours every day fell by the wayside.

Before long, I was riddled with back pain, gained three pant sizes, and was utterly unhappy with the sloth I had become.

And so I did the one thing I felt comfortable and capable of doing: I walked. At home. To appointments and dates with friends. When running errands.

Additionally, I got into the habit of doing minimal exercises while sitting, which didn’t interfere with what I was actually doing.

In a matter of only a few weeks, the back pain was gone (and doesn’t return unless I start slacking off again), I was back to my feel-good weight, and my sleep improved.


: Exercise For Lazy People :

I believe there are two kinds of people. Those who enjoy moving their bodies just for the sake of it. They are the ones who don’t need to overcome their inner hog because they’re already looking forward to exercising in the first place. And then there are the sloths – us. We need to start small by realizing that exercising can happen in passing and without any preparation or big adjustments to our day.

:1. It Doesn’t Have To Be A Time-Waster:

When being physically active keeps us from something we would much rather be doing, all we see in it is a complete waste of time. In reality, however, it doesn’t have to be.

Often our definition of exercising alone makes us reject it and makes it difficult to integrate it into our everyday lives. If we change our attitudes and beliefs, we will naturally change the way we approach physical activity, too.

Many of us associate fitness activities in our minds with time slots set aside, especially for them. We imagine ourselves going to the gym or setting out for a jogging session, and immediately lose all interest before we’ve even started.

Exercising, however, does not require a dedicated time slot or a special location for execution. We can do it anytime and anywhere if we simply combine it with something we are already doing.

No need to throw our entire daily or weekly schedule overboard, and no reason to do without activities we enjoy doing to free up more time.

Examples of how we can implement this in a simple way follow below.

A better approach would be to look at being physically active as something that keeps us from something else we would much rather be doing.

:2. Doing It For The Sake Of Sport Isn’t Necessary:

While many enjoy sport in itself, this isn’t a requirement necessary to incorporate it into our lives. There is no right or wrong way to do it as long as we do it at all.

We don’t need to spend years of our lives trying out different types of sports hoping one will eventually click and stick forever. That one sport that is the perfect fit for us most likely does not exist. And that is perfectly fine.

So let’s stop wasting time looking for it and spending money on sports equipment that will collect dust in a corner after we’ve used it only once.

There is nothing wrong with us just because we haven’t found the perfect sport for us yet. We also don’t have to try harder to search for it.

We’re just wired differently than sporty people (otherwise we wouldn’t be lazybones), and we’d be best off accepting this fact instead of fighting against it.

For us, this means that we should always combine exercising with something positive if we want to stick with it in the long term. And isn’t that somewhat of an exciting thought?

:3. Building A Ritual Around It Can Help:

We humans love rituals and always have. It starts in childhood when the stories our parents read to us help us fall asleep. It ends in old age when we cherish our morning coffee while enjoying the sunny view from the porch.

As creatures of habit, everything we do regularly comes easier to us than what we only do sporadically. Accordingly, we would do well to plan fitness activities in our lives regularly.

We can do so by sprinkling them over our day as it suits us best. We’re the ones who want to exercise a bit more so it’s our decision when it fits us well.

Do we like the idea of starting the day with something and then having done it and being able to cross it off? Would we enjoy scheduling something as a separator between different phases of the day to finish one thing and start another (work and leisure for example)? Are we getting most excited at the thought of having something to end our day with and wind down in the evening?

The choice is ours, and it can be as different as we are as human beings. Anything goes, as long as it suits us perfectly. After fall, we want to find something that we can implement and hold on to in the long term.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Arthur Ashe

:4. Frequency And Duration Are Up To Us:

Many experts tell us that we should exercise for a certain duration and at a certain frequency for it to be effective.

The problem with this is that it often doesn’t fit into our schedule, which is why we either don’t tackle it at all or give up after a short time.

Rather than not starting something in the first place or letting it go again completely, it’s better to do it on our terms and at our own pace.

If we feel that we want to incorporate exercise daily but only for five minutes, so be it. Should we find this impractical and would rather schedule 30 minutes twice a week, that’s fine too. And if we decide for an hour or two every weekend, all the power to us.

Any sport is better than none at all, so let’s not be discouraged by what someone who doesn’t know the reality of our lives recommends.

:5. What Others Think Doesn’t Matter:

Further down below, I have collected ideas on how we can get active that are specifically aimed at couch potatoes. I am one myself, and yes, I speak in the presence as I don’t think of it as an identity we can choose to leave behind.

From birth, we are either larks (early risers) or owls (night dwellers), and although working hours can force us to adapt, they won’t ever change our congenital chronotype.

The same applies to being an introvert vs. being an extrovert – one recharges their batteries when they are alone while the other needs other people to fill up on energy. That’s just the way it is.

I am convinced that it works the same way regarding exercising. We either love it, or we don’t. But if we don’t, we still have maaany options.

Most of the suggestions below are not considered exercising activities in the conventional sense but that’s not what we’re looking for anyway, is it? They all allow us to train our cardiovascular system, endurance, and fasciae just the same, though, while at the same being enjoyable and efficient.

We might initially worry about what other people think of us, but that is completely unnecessary. Rest assured, most people don’t even notice us or have forgotten us the next moment. They are just as preoccupied with themselves as we are with ourselves.

And if they are not, perhaps that is the opportunity to get to know a future exercising buddy and possibly the beginning of a wonderful friendship.

Help this ugly duckling turn into a swan.
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: Exercising Without Going To The Gym :

Now it’s time to take a closer look at the various ways in which we can be physically active without going to the gym, joining a gymnastics class, or running a marathon. Since we don’t get a kick out of working out for its own sake, the best option for us is to find ways to exercise that can be easily combined with activities we are enjoying and/or need to do anyway.

:1. Use Exercise To Be Together With Friends:

We all enjoy spending time with our friends. What we do with them is often of secondary importance.

Of course, it’s fun to watch that new movie we’ve been waiting so long for at the movie theater together. But if it was just about the movie, we could also take someone else with us or watch it by ourselves.

We choose to do something with a particular person because we value their presence and enjoy the way we connect with them. So why don’t we take advantage of this by slipping in a bit of exercise while seeing them?

When we talk to our friends and exchange views, we only need our brains, our mouths, and our ears to engage in it. The rest of our body can be busy with something else without interrupting our conversation.

Normally we would meet up with our friends at a café, in a bar or restaurant, or at home. What all of these places have in common is that we usually don’t move around very much once we’re there.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways in which we can enjoy being together and exercise at the same time. It doesn’t have to be anything special, nor does it have to exhaust us. By exercise, I mean doing something such as going for a simple walk.

Cafés offer coffee to go, snack stations provide food for take-out, and even regular dishes now come in practical boxes for eating on the go.

:2. Walk Whenever And Wherever Possible:

Exercising without much effort or prior knowledge is easier than we might think. All we have to do is go for walks. No running, no sprinting, no jogging. None of that is necessary.

The human body is designed for walking. Every single bone in our skeleton is part of a larger whole that harmonizes and interacts perfectly with each other. When we walk, we automatically move our entire body from our feet to our heads.

People stayed fit and healthy long before gyms existed simply by doing what nature intended for us. So why not go back to our roots?

We all know the advice to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. What many of us don’t know, however, is the fact that this originated from a marketing strategy in the 1960s via which a Japanese company intended to sell their new pedometer which was called Manpo-kei, translating as 10,000 steps meter.

For some reason, this number has stuck around ever since, albeit being completely arbitrary. Whether we walk 3,000, 6,000 or 9,000 steps is less important. The most important thing is that we move at all and that we do so regularly.

We can get steps together quite easily by

  • taking the stairs whenever possible instead of riding the elevator or the escalator
  • opting for single-tasking by running errands separately instead of in one go
  • taking the long way home by getting off the bus or the train a stop earlier
  • walking up and down the stairs more than once when leaving or coming home
  • going for a walk while holding a work meeting (provided no screen is necessary)

The only weights I lift are my dogs.

Olivia Newton-John

:3. Exercise While Standing:

Just because we are doing something that requires us to stand on the spot doesn’t mean that no movement is possible. Our arms and/or hands may be busy with a task at hand, but our legs and feet aren’t necessarily.

Exercising at home while standing

  • Wade through sand or water in a bowl while doing the dishes
  • Balance on one leg or do squats while brushing your teeth
  • Stretch or run on the spot while watching TV (no need to take your eyes off it)

Exercising at work while standing

  • Balance on a balance board while working at the checkout
  • Stand on your tiptoes while advising customers at the counter
  • Walk on an under-desk treadmill while working on your computer

Exercising on the go while standing

  • Suck in your tummy to train your abdominal muscles while waiting in line
  • Tense your legs or curl your toes when waiting for public transport
  • Tighten your arms and back while waiting for the traffic light to turn green

:4. Exercise While Sitting:

James Levine once said, “Sitting is the new smoking”, and many physicians agree. Whenever we sit for more than eight hours without any physical activity, we are significantly increasing our mortality risk.

While we cannot always avoid having to sit down (or sometimes we can but are simply too lazy to get up), there are various exercises that we can do comfortably while glued to our seats without being distracted.

Exercising at home while sitting

  • Use resistance bands around your legs or feet and hold against them while watching TV
  • Use your feet as a scoop and lift your dog, cat, or bunny while reading a book
  • Move the rocking chair you’re sitting in while knitting or playing video games

Exercising at work while sitting

  • Use wrist weight cuffs while typing or making calls to train your arms and shoulders
  • Use a sitting ball or a balance chair to strengthen your core and improve your posture
  • Use an under-desk pedal exerciser to exercise your ankle joints and leg muscles

Exercising on the go while sitting

  • Tap your toes and heels or rotate your ankles while sitting in your doctor’s waiting room
  • Sit tall and pull your belly button towards your spine while riding on the bus or subway
  • Tighten, hold, and release your glute muscles while waiting for a friend at a coffee shop

:5. Exercise While Walking:

Walking in and of itself is already an exercise, but we can make it even more worthwhile by combining it with something else. This helps us get things done that we would normally postpone or avoid, or do things while walking that we would otherwise sit for.

While walking at home seems easy, going for walks outside by ourselves can be quite daunting at first. Don’t worry about someone seeing you walking by every day at the same time and wondering what you’re doing, though.

They will simply assume you’re on your way to run an errand or get to an appointment. Nobody except ourselves knows that the only reason we’re outside is so that we don’t melt into the couch that we potatoes love so dearly.

Exercising at home while walking

  • Tidy up and dust your place while making phone calls (it’s quiet and doesn’t require focus)
  • Do housework such as vacuuming, laundry, or cooking while listening to an audiobook
  • Leave your home at least twice a day (mailbox, grocery or drug store, bank, appointment)

Exercising at work while walking

  • Drop by a colleague’s desk or office (if they’re okay with it) instead of calling or chatting
  • Hold meetings during a walk instead of sitting in a meeting room for yet another hour
  • Go for a walk around the block with colleagues during your lunch or coffee break

Exercising on the go while walking

  • Use your fully packed shopping bags for weightlifting when getting your weekly groceries
  • Run for a block or two (don’t worry – people will assume you’re late for an appointment)
  • Take your dog with you on errands (or borrow your neighbor’s dog) and let it set the pace


: Questions To Ponder Over :

  1. What do you spend longer periods doing in the same position?
  2. How could you become active without interrupting this activity?
  3. Which friends would be willing to combine meeting up with exercise?
  4. At what time of day would a small exercise routine best fit your schedule?
  5. What tiny errands could you run that could act as dividers during the day?

I’d be thrilled to hear from you in the comments below.
Don’t be shy.


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: Key Takeaways From This Post :

Physical activities that work for most people are bound to fail with couch potatoes. Those of us who dread working out for the sake of it need other ways to exercise in order to successfully integrate them into our everyday lives.

The good thing is that there is no need for dedicated sports, and if we learn to ignore other people’s opinions, we will find something that fits our schedules and preferences.

We can integrate exercise in practical ways by

  • involving friends and combining our social activities with physical movement
  • walking with a purpose by connecting it to tasks like housework or errands
  • doing simple and easy workouts while standing or sitting at home or work

Exercise needs to be enjoyable and flexible for us to be open to it and stick to it in the long run. The biggest hurdle for us who don’t get excited at the thought of working out is finding just the right kind of exercise that suits us well.

Once we’ve managed that, our small and consistent efforts will inevitably lead to significant health benefits even without us implementing major lifestyle changes.

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1 Comments Easy Ways To Exercise As A Couch Potato

  1. Avatar for AlexAlex May 18, 2024 at 9:54 PM

    Dear special someone who is reading my blog,
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