My only issue? I find working out at a gym, or really any organized exercise, pretty boring. Over the years, I've gone through phases of trying different organized sports — gymnastics, rock climbing, yoga, even jogging (bla) — but nothing ever tends to stick. And you know why? Because I'm not having that much fun, and I usually have lots of other sh*t I'd rather be doing instead. Which is why, lately, I've opted to find ways to work out that don't feel like work — (or at least help me get other chores done simultaneously). Call it exercise-multitasking, if you will.
I'm not going to count the calories each of the activities I suggest below burns (except in certain cases to back up my dubious-sounding claim that it is indeed exercise) because I believe burning calories and weight loss just aren't the point of fitness. As someone in recovery from disordered eating for a few years now, to me being healthy means measuring what constitutes "good" exercise not in terms of calories burned — but rather in terms of how it makes my body feel.
Here are 15 activities that I would argue most definitely count as exercise but feel like very little work. This one's for you, my fellow multitasking lady badasses.
1. Take A Really Long Walk And Catch Up With Everyone On The Phone
If you're anything like me, you totally owe your mom, dad, uncle, cousin, and best friend from high school a call right now. Sometimes when I have nothing to do but would like to move, I take a ridiculously long, brisk walk around my neighborhood or the park. I don't stop until I'm either tired or have finally caught up with (or left messages for) everyone I've been putting off talking to on the phone. The health benefits of walking just 30 minutes a day are well documented, so consider this the motivation you need to finally call your mom back.
2. Sway Them Hips While Sorting Out Your Closet
This has always been my favorite fun form of exercise. When I was a teenager and still really excited that I finally had hips, I would put on some Beyoncé, Shakira, or (my favorite) the Save the Last Dance soundtrack, and dance in my skivvies till it was through. Not only was I working on my oh-so-skillful moves for parties, but I was helping remind myself just how hot I was every time I caught a glance of my fine self in the mirror.
If looking at yourself for prolonged periods of time in the mirror feels like too much self-love to start out with, then consider dancing around your room while trying on outfits from your closet. Put some music on, check yourself out in the mirror in different outfits, and think of it as a fun way to sort through your wardrobe. All that moving around and voguing is bound to get your heart rate — and dopamine — flowing. Even better? In the end, you'll know what clothes to ditch. Which brings me to...
3. Schlep Your Old Clothes To A Consignment Shop
Once you've cleaned out your wardrobe, consider walking your giveaway clothes to the nearest consignment shop or thrift store in your neighborhood. Hello, carrying those bags is just like weight training — only at the end of it, you get cash, store credit, and/or MORE CLOTHES. That is way better motivation than striving for those impossibly photoshopped flat abs.
Oh, and the shopping itself? Obviously counts as exercise. Why do you think you always get hungry after?
4. Have A Marathon Masturbation Sesh
If you've ever read anything else by me about being body positive, you knew this one was coming. I try to spread the gospel whenever I can: not only does masturbation have proven mental and sexual health benefits, but the physical benefits are also huge! Ever wonder why you get so ravenous after having sex or using your vibe for a solid hour? Well, that's because it's mother-effing aerobic exercise, guys.
Getting off gets your heart rate way up, helps you work those abs and kegel muscles (seriously notice what your abs are doing next time you're in the heat of it), and helps you have better sex. But best of all? This exercise can be done from bed while watching the porn, rom-com, or totally asexual sitcom of your choice.
We women are expert multitaskers, so if you consider yourself someone who's just "not that into" masturbation or porn, then I suggest investing in a high-grade vibrator and/or reading this article on how to masturbate, and then going to town while watching something that simply makes you happy or has someone you think is cute in it.
If you tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself to orgasm, then you might find that watching something totally unrelated on TV you'd be binging on anyway helps take you to the point where you finally stop worrying and can keep going and going and going.
Remember, it's for your health.
5. Go On An Epic Grocery Shopping Trip
A lesson I've learned the hard way: Don't do this hungry unless you want to spend a lot of money.
But if you have a grocery store within 30 minutes of you, take some reusable bags or a huge backpack, and make a multitasking exercise adventure out of it. Walking there, plus carrying it all home with either your two raging biceps or a huge backpack? Totally more exercise and more productive than the elliptical. Trust me, you'll feel like you're in Wild. (Only instead you'll get to go home and eat lasagna.)
6. Offer To Babysit/Dogsit/Volunteer
Anyone who's ever done any of these altruistic things knows that running after a toddler, a dog, or working at a food bank is way more fun (and far less humiliating) than Zumba. The added health benefit? You'll probably get some dopamine-inducing cuddles and that self-righteous glow.
7. Find Your Flow
If you're an artist of any kind, you know what your flow is — that feeling of getting lost in your work where time ceases to matter, let alone what size jeans you're wearing.
For me, my flow happens when I'm writing. For others, it's when they're dancing, cooking, making music, or even cleaning the house. Whatever it is, we all have those activities where we completely lose our sense of time, and even if we're sitting while doing them, they are exercising our brain in a way that has proven health (and yes, even caloric) benefits. Ever heard stories about how those pro chess players are using their brains so hard they end up losing a bunch of weight in just one game? Well, I'm not advocating that, but that should serve as proof that really using your mind is indeed exercise.
8. Prioritize Going Out Dancing With Your Friends Over The Gym
Even if you have a drink or two, this totally counts as exercise, and is, in my opinion anyway, way more fun than the gym. Just be sure to drink lots of water for maximum health benefits (and minimum hangover).
9. Clean Your Apartment To Music
So I know there's been some disagreement lately about "just how many calories" cleaning actually burns. Well, I don't give a sh*t, because every time I've finally motivated myself to vacuum or scrub my shower, I can tell I'm working — hard. Cleaning totally counts as exercise, and is good motivation to improve your space instead of going to spinning. (Just put on the same pop music, and the only difference will be that no one is yelling at you.)
10. Take a Really Long Shower
Yes, I know this is bad for your skin and the environment, but sometimes, a girl just needs to take a long, hot shower. Vigorously wash your hair, shave, brush your teeth, and do whatever else makes you move around in there. It counts! (Pay attention to your heart rate and biceps next time you're washing your hair and you'll see what I mean.)
11. Stretch While Reading Or Watching TV
Next time you're extra lazy, just set up a yoga mat on the floor and do some stretching while you're watching that fifth episode of Gilmore Girls. It doesn't have to be strenuous — just move in whatever way feels good and let yourself be blissfully distracted by Luke and Loreli's sexual tension while you work out your own.
12. Get A Standing Desk (Or Find a Place To Stand At Work)
The health risks of sitting all day are awful. Seriously, if you work in an office, sitting all day is more likely to kill you than SMOKING or HIV. (Read this terrifying article by Lifehacker for all the details.) So try to make it a goal to stand up — at least for a few minutes on and off every hour — at work. (Ever notice why so many servers, bartenders, teachers, and other active professions are hot? My theory is it's because they're always on their feet.)
Almost as good as not contributing to your own demise? Your body has to work harder when you're standing, so you can totally count this as exercise.
13. Sleep More
Some of the hottest women in the world — like Penelope Cruz and Eva Mendes — are vocal about their need for lots and lots of sleep. While 11 hours a night might not be a possibility for us plebeians, we could all probably use a bit more sleep.
The health benefits are nearly endless, and it's been proven that getting enough sleep keeps you fit. And the fact that your body is still working while you do it could help explain why you wake up so damn hungry and sweaty.
14. Give Someone a Massage
According to the USDA's Super Tracker for calories (blech, I know), a 34-year-old, 160-pound female burns about 289 calories giving a one-hour massage. Now that's a workout. But because I don't advocate being motivated by calories, consider this instead: If you're close enough to someone to give them an hour-long massage either a) you're about to be crowned best friend ever, or b) you're about to get some.
Which brings me to, last but not least...
15. Put Your Love On Top
Okay, so maybe you don't have someone to have sex with right now. (In which case, might I refer you, once again, to suggestion #4.)
But if you do happen to be getting some right now, you don't need me to tell you that sex is pretty amazing exercise. The only thing is, if you're having hetero sex, guys tend to hog the majority of the workout by virtue of being on top and thrusting. An easy hack? Check out our list of the best positions for female orgasm, and choose some positions that put YOU in the driver's seat.
Not only are you more likely to get off that way, but you'll also be working up more of a sweat. (Think of girl on top as a modified squat, only way, way, way more fun.)
May the self-love be with you.
Images: Comedy Central; Giphy