30 Effortless Ways To Exercise Without Even Noticing


When my kids were little I could lift their baby carrier and stop traffic with my biceps.

Not literally of course, that would be dangerous and counterproductive. 😉

But being a former weakling when it came to upper body strength, (I am a long torso/short leg body type,) the reaction to these muscles was such that it made me re-assess my day as it related to exercise.

Clearly, being a mom and having small children caused me to be in the best shape of my life.

I was, as Mark Sisson recommends in The Primal Blueprint, ‘lifting heavy things’ multiple times a day for months on end.

Cue strongman biceps and a rock hard bum.

(Okay, okay, I am exaggerating.  I’ll drop the ‘rock.’)

In those days we had a station wagon that swinging the kids into and out of required a good back and set of glutes.

Oliver would add a cardio component to this car seat workout by refusing to be strapped in so we regularly engaged in a wrestling match that it was always necessary I win.

And he was a determined opponent.

It was probably the only time of my life I can state I shared something in common with Hulk Hogan.

And of course, I was a mom with twins so everything was doubled from day one.

Over the years, the kids have learned to climb and strap themselves in, put on their own clothes (former scene of yet more wrestling matches – WWE had nothing on the us, we could have had our own reality show entitled ‘The Golden Smackdown’) and have stopped hanging onto my legs and going ‘uppie!’ in a way that even the most exhausted parent can’t refuse.

Not unless they want to fall over.

So I have had to get more creative and proactive in the ways I incorporate exercise into my day.

Fortunately, ‘creative’ and ‘proactive’ are my middle names. Ones I much prefer to my real middle name.

So read this list.

See if you can’t reframe your thoughts about your daily activities.

Learn that carrying all those shopping bags does have a benefit.

(But, take it from me, don’t get all sweaty folding laundry – it ruins the wash.)

I hope you get some new ideas.

Let me know what they are in the comments!


30 Effortless Ways For Moms To Exercise Without Even Noticing

1. Stretch high to get something off the top shelf rather than use a step.

2. Use, the biggest, heaviest cookery book you can find.

3. Do pushups against the counter while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil.

4. Hold your stomach in when you bend over to tuck the sheets under the mattress.

5. Bend at the knees as you pick up the toys.

6. Do some chin-ups on the monkey bars when you’re at the park.

7. Use a hand whisk when blending – make sure you use both hands. And whisk HARD!

8. Keep your tush tucked when you vacuum.

9. Bend your arms forward at the elbow when carrying in groceries. Hold your bags away from your body.

10. Sprint across the quad at school.

11. Stand up while using the computer.

12. Watch TV crossed-legged, back straight and over the hips, hands on your knees.

13. Fill laundry baskets high, hold them away from you body and appreciate the arm, back and butt exercise as you lift it around the house putting clothes away.

14. Make bread by hand.

15. Contort your face while putting on makeup. (Make sure no-one is looking – you might frighten someone.)

16. Shoulders back and down while driving. Pull stomach in for as long as you can.

17. Encourage your kids to use the tire swing and push and spin them to exhaustion. They will love you for it.

18. Put your kids in a stroller and walk, walk, and walk some more. Especially up hills. (Go with a friend and get exercise, vitamin D, fresh air, and some social all at the same time – oh, how I miss this ultimate workout.)

19. When your toddlers demand ‘uppie!,’ give in. Every time.

20. Bend over as far as possible when blow drying your hair upside down.

21. Unload your plates from the dishwasher and carry as many of them as possible at one time to their spot on the shelf.

22. Wear a pedometer. It doesn’t actually cause you to exercise but it does count how many steps you take as part of your day and that makes you feel good.

23. Buy a trampoline for the kids and use it yourself.

24. Keep a kettlebell or other weight in plain sight in your bedroom and every time you pass it, give it a few swings or pumps.

25. When you bend over to spit out your toothpaste, clench your buttocks and stomach, do not use your non-dominant hand to support yourself against the basin.

26. Consider the navigation of a child, bag and a stroller through a narrow doorway when there is no-one to help as a mind/body workout.

27. Straighten your leg every time you take a stair before putting the other foot down.

28. Take steps two at a time but see above and make sure you keep your shoulders over hips as you do so.

29. Walking around a theme park for hours is exercise, you know. Trust me on that one.

30. And if you go on a rollercoaster, brace yourself hard against the sides. (Note to self: Why am I even telling you that when a) of course you would do that or b) you wouldn’t dream of going on a roller coaster in the first place – and I don’t blame you, me neither.)

Over time if you bring awareness to how you can tweak everyday actions, you’ll see that just about everything a mom does can be a mini- or micro-workout.

If you go one step further and start pushing those strollers up hills or spend fifteen minutes a day engaged in a formal workout, you’re golden. And not Alison Golden, either. 😉

Being a mom can be a hard, physically demanding job.

Make that fact work for you.

Be awesome out there!

Do you have any wrestling prodigies – and can you now see that as a positive thing? 🙂 Do you have any exercise tips we can all benefit from? What could be my real middle name? (Hint: it is the name of a month of the year.) 


{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Ross August 2, 2011 at 7:55 am

Loved your post! It’s so true that you can do so many exercises without even noticing. I’m disabled and can’t exercise the way I’d like. Over the last six months I’ve lost 30lbs through doing things like the ones you mention in your post. Great site you have!
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Alison Golden August 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Welcome, Ross!

Congratulations on the weightloss! That is a huge achievement especially given your disability. I’m a bit embarrassed now that I biased this post towards moms and not all stay-at-home *parents.* 🙂


August 2, 2011 at 8:59 am

Hmmm…May, June, but I’m guessing not July;).

Exercise tip: sweeping the patio is great core work. Plus you save precious water by avoiding the “wet sweep.”

Also, walking the dog. We have a husky so the morning and evening walks are non-negotiables. Bonus–quality time with the kid away from every day distractions and time suck activities.

Love #25–that’s clever Alison :P.
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Alison Golden August 2, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Walking the dog, never thought of that! Of course. My excuse is that I have cats and they don’t like being taken for a walk. Believe me, I’ve tried.

And #25, huh? Such a small thing but clever, don’t you think? Until I became aware of it, I hadn’t realized how much I use my non-dominant hand to support my body when it should be able to support itself. Thanks for stopping by, Linda!


August 2, 2011 at 9:02 am


I am going to print out this list and put it on my frig as a reminder. If I start incorporating over and over again they will become part of my regular routine.

I have 2 more:

1. I would march everywhere. In the house of course. I would look funny marching in Macy’s or while walking the dog.

2. While standing still, like brushing my teeth or my hair I would hold a squat position.

I do notice my legs getting stronger and more lean just by doing simple stuff like this. And a few extra calories burn too. Now with your list I can add.

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Alison Golden August 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm


LOL! The idea of you marching and squatting while cleaning your teeth is quite a thought! I do sidebends while I’m drying my hair but I don’t think that has quite the same visual factor. 🙂


bluecottonmemory August 2, 2011 at 9:34 am

I could do all that – but the whisk? No way! Not giving up my Kitchen Aid! I would turn into the bionic woman if I used a whisk! LOL


Alison Golden August 2, 2011 at 3:25 pm

BCM, no worries. I have a Kitchen Aid too. Handwhisk and food processor. I did notice though, when I broke my right arm (I’m right handed) that my left arm was so pathetically weak by comparison. Even when the cast came off the extra use of the left arm hadn’t transpired into much greater strength. Just goes to show how hard it can be to turnaround years of inactivity. I am now going at my upper body strength with a kettlebell. That’s working pretty well. I have it in my bedroom, like it says in #24.


Jenn August 3, 2011 at 2:05 am

wow, great and exhaustive list!! I think twins would for sure give you hefting-muscles! When mine were in carriers, I threw my back out early on! 🙁 I learned not to carry the carriers…

enjoyed your list 🙂 I do plie’s while brushing my teeth in the morning.
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Alison Golden August 3, 2011 at 11:14 am

Do you? I had no idea so many people did exercises while doing their teeth. Don’t you dribble toothpaste around? When I’m standing, I often put myself in a ballet position (I never did ballet so I don’t know the proper term for it.) I slot the heel of one foot into the instep of my other, tuck my bum in and turn out my knees, opens the hips in a way we don’t normally experience!


Heather August 3, 2011 at 5:09 am

I just wanted to say I LOVED this post! 🙂
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Alison Golden August 3, 2011 at 11:11 am

Thank you, Heather. Praise indeed, I’ve been to your site many times and felt ‘Ooooh, this girl knows what she’s doing!’


Cathy Presland
August 3, 2011 at 8:25 am

great post Alison, I can out-do my hubby with a hand whisk anytime!

Oh and if you fancy taking surfing lessons you will discover muscles you didn’t know existed lol 😉

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Alison Golden August 3, 2011 at 11:10 am

Now look here, I drink green smoothies but I am *not* going surfing. No way, no how. I’ll leave that to you Cathy. 😉


Bibi August 3, 2011 at 9:22 am

Is it April?

This is a great list, Alison. I am already using some of these, but who knew there is so many other ways to exercise effortlessly.

I did own a trampoline for myself, but the boys destroyed it. Now I am going to buy them one and use it myself, that will teach them.

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Alison Golden August 3, 2011 at 11:09 am

No, it’s not April 😉 I quite like that name. I think trampolining is a great idea. And yes, my boys have been through several.


August 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Love this list! I wrote a similar post a while ago. There really are so many ways to fit exercise into your day!
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Alison Golden August 5, 2011 at 10:43 am

Indeed there are, Charise. Thank you!


Mimi August 3, 2011 at 9:42 pm

So exciting to know I do some of these already. When I go up stairs at work, I let my heel fall down on the step as I go up it and push up from there, trying to work my calves. I’ve been doing a lot of squating at work lately and I can ACTUALLY feel the burn. I’m so excited since I’ve never had thigh muscles! =)
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Alison Golden August 5, 2011 at 10:43 am

It is exciting when those muscles start appearing, isn’t it? I am doing a kettlebell exercise at the moment and after I’ve got my breath back and stopped being afraid that I’m going. to. die. I can feel the muscles in my inner thigh. That is a weak spot for me.


The Damsel in Dis Dress
August 4, 2011 at 7:16 am

The brushing the teeth thing is a good one! There are many times when you can practice balance by standing on just one leg or the other, and you get better at it the more you do it.

Is your middle name May?
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Alison Golden August 5, 2011 at 10:40 am

No, it’s not May. 😉 It is actually June. I think it’s a bland, dull name. And Alison is a very sensible name. I was always being called ‘sensible’ and ‘mature’ when I was a kid. I think that’s a good thing. But only just. Balance is oh so important, you are right. As much a physical exercise as strength or cardio. Teresa Tapp focuses a lot on balance in her exercises.


Mary E. Ulrich
August 4, 2011 at 9:32 am

Alison, when you write your exercise book, you need to title one of the chapters,”Don’t get all sweaty folding laundry – it ruins the wash.” That is hysterical.

Your great ideas also made me think about an old TV show where Dr. Ruth said, “Every time you stop at a stoplight, you should do your hegel exercises.” (Not sure I spelled it correctly, but bet you’re laughing on the floor.)
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Alison Golden August 5, 2011 at 10:38 am

You know, Mary, I got that thought from a guy on another site. I thought it was hysterical too the way he wrote it. My post made you think of Dr Ruth? And Dr Ruth makes me think of Dr Phil. Now, there’s a Saturday Night Live sketch idea…Dr Ruth and Dr Phil stuck in a car together. Do men have pelvic floor muscles? I don’t know.


Mary E. Ulrich
August 6, 2011 at 7:02 am

Award Winning Idea!!!!!

I’m laughing out loud while flexing muscles so I don’t pee in my pants.
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Kristl Story August 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Sure beats running outside in 100+ degree Texas heat!!! When we’re on vacation, our rule is always take the stairs no matter what floor we’re on!
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Alison Golden August 5, 2011 at 10:35 am

Taking the stairs is always a good option, Kristl, whereever you are. I love your name, by the way. 😉


Richard August 8, 2011 at 3:55 am

Some great tips. It is certainly a lot easier to exercise as part of your normal day’s routine than to have to lug yourself down the gym every day!
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Alison Golden August 8, 2011 at 11:32 am

Thanks Richard. I don’t know about you but I resent spending the free time I have driving to the gym, hanging around. For some, it works to go to a gym and it definitely has it’s benefits but I’d much rather do something in my living room, my neighborhood or even better as I go about my normal day. Thanks for stopping by!


August 8, 2011 at 9:17 am

Hey Alison, very creative list of ways to exercise without “really” exercising! One of the things I have to do is stand up while working at the computer. I sit and drive a lot so computer time just makes it worse. Got my contractor boyfriend to rig up a nice desk!
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Alison Golden August 8, 2011 at 11:29 am

Formal exercise has its’ place, Susan but I’m all for getting it here and there whereever I can. And I know, I need to do that standing up thing with my computer, too. 😉


Joyce Cherrier
August 11, 2011 at 7:47 pm

What a great list! Love #24. I notice if I leave fitness toys around I tend to stop and do a few reps or hop on the stepper for a few minutes. It all adds up!
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Alison Golden August 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm

‘Fitness toys.’ Nice phrase. I’m going to totally steal that. And yes, it all adds up. 🙂


Michelle Lefebvre August 11, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Loved the post! I noticed that my upper arms were so strong when my kids were little. Then they started walking and my thighs got a big workout chasing them and running up and down the steps. Now they’re old enough that we play Just Dance – it’s a great way to get some exercise in while having fun with them.


Alison Golden August 14, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Ooooh, Just Dance is fantastic exercise! It’s totally overlooked as a workout. I love it but man, it’s hard.


hannamay August 16, 2011 at 9:51 am

Awesome ideas you have here, you’re so very true, 30 ways of exercising without noticing..It’s a brilliant idea, thanks for sharing this…
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Alison Golden August 26, 2011 at 8:54 am

You are welcome. 🙂


robbie August 26, 2011 at 3:25 am

I think you forgot an important one: Play with your kids. They want it, and it’s often great exercise (and bonding time!). Take yesterday; my oldest had soccer practice, so I brought a second ball for my preschooler and I to have “ours” when the mood hit.
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Alison Golden August 26, 2011 at 8:54 am

You are absolutely right on both counts, Robbie. I forgot and it’s important. Thank you for adding that. 🙂


Joshua Allen November 14, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I agree most of the comments above, you actually forget how about playing with them it is a great idea to play with them, not only they are enjoy but then there is a special moment between you and to your kids.
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KerryB February 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm

love this post!!! Thanks!


Alison Golden February 13, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Yeah, me too. The kids loved the one we had (for a short while before Mommy broke it.) 🙂
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