Supporting Sport

Exercise That Doesn’t Feel Like Exercise

Doing More doesn’t have to feel like hard work.

Edinburgh-based fitness and nutrition coach Stephen Duncan knows some simple ways to exercise that don’t feel like exercise.

In this day and age so many people are over-worked and stressed out and therefore have very little energy. If you do not have the energy in the first place, you cannot very well give it to a workout.

Rather than taking it out of you, these exercises will give you energy by helping you to breathe more. Bringing in more oxygen helps to fuel your body and burn fat. If you are under stress, have poor posture and are largely inactive it is extremely likely that you don’t breathe properly. Instead, you take shallow breaths. Shallow breaths will not bring in enough oxygen for exercise, so you breathe faster but still shallow.

By learning to breathe properly you can make your deep stomach muscles, postural and breathing muscles all work harder to bring in more oxygen per breath. More oxygen per breath means you can take fewer breaths to get the job done. So, by learning to breathe deeper and take in more oxygen per breath you will have learned a technique to exercise without actually exercising.

1) Abdominal Breathing

Lie on your back somewhere comfortable like your bed (as long as you don’t fall asleep) or the floor.

Place your hands over your belly button and take a deep breath in through your nose so that your stomach begins to inflate. Continue until you feel like you have filled your boots with air, and it has gone from the very bottom of your stomach then finally up to your neck. Remember, this is not about straining yourself but getting more air into your body, so stop before you have to hold your breath or feel like you are forcing it.

Then begin to breathe out; think about pushing the air out from the bottom of your stomach up and out through your nose or mouth. Continue until your stomach draws in at your belly button and you feel a tightening of your deep, often hidden, stomach muscles.

Then repeat the cycle for at least 3 minutes and up to 15 minutes. This is a way to relax, help digestion, tighten up the deep stomach muscles and gain energy.

2) Breathe… and Squat!

Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and begin to bend at your knees at the same time as you bend at the hips. Bend as low as you can but stop before you feel any joint pain, see your knees fall in or out, or your feet start to move. This lowering towards the floor should not be stressful at all, so don’t force the movement. When you reach the bottom of your squat, return to the start pushing through your heels.

The technique to make this exercise an exercise that isn’t, is to breathe through the whole movement. Place your hands over your stomach. Breathe in to your hands as before, then as you breathe out start to lower whilst drawing the stomach in.

When you reach the end of the exhalation, start to smoothly breathe in, inflating your stomach as if filling up with air will make you lighter so that you float back to the start without using any muscular effort! It sounds like it may be too good to be true, but try it and you will find out for yourself. 

When you lose the sequence and fatigue starts bringing about a shallower breath, stop the exercise. Could you make 10 or 20 without stopping? In time, some people can get to over 100!

3) Walking Meditation

From all that deep breathing, you have been learning how to draw in and tighten the deep abdominal muscles. As they get more work, they will become more active and have more tone, so they will now be more useable. The next step is to get them involved in more and more of your daily life.

Practicing the deep breathing technique whilst walking would be a great way to take things a stage further and increase the amount of time you spend building energy and not taking it away.

Try breathing in deeply as you walk and notice how many steps you take before you have to then breathe out. Then count how many steps before you breathe in again. It is possible to take 3 to 5 steps before breathing out or in. This kind of walking and breathing is known as walking meditation.

So there you have it: 3 simple exercises that can be done at home with no equipment and hardly any stress!

Stephen Duncan is the Executive Health Coach at Balanced Fitness in Edinburgh, where he offers support to achieve your health, fitness, physical and mental goals.

Twitter: @balancedfitnss

Facebook: Balanced Fitness



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