Daily activities

What counts as exercise? 4 Daily Activities That Are Moderate Exercise

As a personal trainer and weight loss coach, I constantly answer my clients’ health and fitness questions, on social media and in our Start TODAY Facebook Group. In this column, I address some of the most common questions and obstacles that trip people up on their journey to establishing a health and fitness routine.

I skipped my workout – but I was moving all day! Does it count as exercise?

As the weather warms up, many of my clients ask me if playing volleyball outside at a barbecue or mowing the lawn counts as a workout. This raises a larger question that many people ask: “If I move around a lot during the day, does that count as my workout?”

The answer is maybe.

First, let’s talk about what it means to exercise.

What is exercise?

The term “exercise” refers to any activity that requires physical exertion, particularly when performed to improve or maintain one’s level of health and fitness. It can also extend to physical activity performed to work specifically on a skill or performance area, such as athletic conditioning, which addresses the unique movements of a sport (such as jumping or sprinting).

At least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day is recommended, but that doesn’t mean it has to be all in one exercise session. It can be accumulated throughout the day.

According to the American Heart Association, for exercise to be considered moderate intensity, your heart rate should be around 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. You would have to feel like your body is continually being challenged throughout the duration of the activity for it to be considered exercise.

We can use these guidelines to determine whether the movement you do throughout the day counts as exercise or not.

Which movements count as exercise?

Gardening, swimming a lap or two in the pool, running with your children, taking a leisurely walk… although these activities are all excellent for your general health, they do not really reduce the exercise quota that will help with weight loss. weight or counts as “moderate exercise”.

But there are quite a few common activities that do counts as exercise. Each of these activities is performed at a level of intensity or effort that can allow you to count them as your workout.

Recreational sports

Recreational sports – whether you play in a league or with family and friends in the yard – are a form of exercise. But the level at which you challenge yourself during playtime determines the quality of this exercise.

Obviously, there has to be some level of intensity or difficulty for it to be considered an effective workout. If you’re playing beach volleyball and just watching the ball go over the net, you’re barely moving. But if you’re playing in a competitive game and you’re moving through the sand or jumping to block the ball, that definitely counts as moderate exercise. Similarly, swimming a few lengths in the pool won’t get you that important aerobic activity, but swimming a good amount of lengths for a long period of time will.

So yes, if you play a game of volleyball or basketball with your family for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity (think: you’re sweating and slightly out of breath), that counts 100% as exercise.

To mow the lawn

Pushing a lawn mower takes a bit of effort, not only are you walking around the yard, but it takes some muscle to push the weight of the mower and maneuver it. So, it’s safe to say that mowing the lawn can be compared to a brisk walk, but only if you mow faster than at a leisurely pace! Brisk walking, with the added aspect of resistance, will increase your heart rate and can count as your daily exercise. (This also goes for shoveling snow in the winter!)

Clean the garage

If you’re pulling boxes out of the garage, lifting tables, and pulling out furniture, you can check your workout on your to-do list.

The resistance that comes from dragging, lifting, and pulling all those heavy objects is a form of strength training and counts as exercise. Make sure you are using good form by squatting when lifting, this will prevent you from straining your back and will also better target your glutes and hamstrings.


House cleaning can be considered a form of exercise as long as you stay active. Moving around the house quickly and doing different activities like carrying the laundry up the stairs, squatting while you load or unload the dishes, and vacuuming are all aerobic and strength activities that you can consider exercise. exercise.

The Bottom Line: Prioritize workouts and consider extra moves the icing on the cake

I recommend that my clients stick to their workout routine and consider recreational sports and other movement-based activities as a bonus.

There will be times when you do particularly strenuous activities that may count as your workout for the day – but most of the time doing a chore or playing a game in the garden won’t raise your heart rate enough to count as a solid workout. .

Moving throughout the day has a lot of benefits – like even more calories burned and reduced pain – so I always encourage people to move as much as possible! But if you have toning or weight loss goals, it’s important to continue this targeted training.

More of your questions, answered!