Incidental activity

Being physically active keeps your body mobile and helps you stay independent as you age.

It also promotes faster recovery from illness, reduced risk of chronic disease and better management of existing medical problems. Increasing your daily activity can come from small movements around the house that build up throughout the day. [1]

These kinds of movements that we perform, without intending to exercise, are called incidental activity. You may find it easier to be active in lots of little ways throughout the day, instead of finding time for a longer, single session of exercise. These two types of activity can produce similar health benefits. [2]

National physical activity guidelines

  • Think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience.
  • Be active every day in as many ways as you can.
  • Put together at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all days.
  • If you can, also enjoy some regular, vigorous exercise for extra health and fitness. [3]

10 ways to increase your incidental activity

  1. Leave your phone in another room.
  2. Sweep the floor inside and out every day.
  3. Try some calf raises while you wait for the kettle to boil.
  4. Stand up while you’re chopping and preparing meals.
  5. Do some gardening or mow the lawn. Creating an edible garden will encourage you to head outside to pick produce.
  6. Go for a walk around the block before breakfast, after dinner, or both!
  7. Be active while watching the television. Move and stretch during ad breaks or get up to change the channel.
  8. Bust a move – dance around the house to your favourite music. This will also increase your mood!
  9. Take the rubbish out to the bins every day. Push the wheelie bins to the furthest stretch of your nature strip on bin night.
  10. Park further away from the shops and walk the extra distance.

1. Better Health Channel. (2014) Physical activity for seniors (accessed on 5 May 2020).

2. Queensland Health. (2008) What is incidental activity? Brisbane, Queensland Government.

3. Department of Health. (2013) Recommendations on physical activity for health for older Australians. Canberra, Australian Government.

Page last updated: Monday, 19 July 2021