Incidental Exercise

Lets talk about “incidental exercise” for a moment.


Seen as good by most, because we’re all terrible horrible people for being sedentary. Although structures such as jobs requiring it, schools endorsing it is some kind of individual fault? Anyway, system vs individual isn’t the direct point of this post.


This post is how hard it is to recognise that incidental exercise can be bad for you.


I realised this talking a few months ago with my physio. Incidental is bad for me because that’s things like commuting, where I’m carrying a laptop in a backpack and people walk into you and bus drivers drive over curbs and slam on brakes that jolt your body around.


Whereas when I go for intentional walks, I’m wearing appropriate clothes and it’s empty and I’m not carrying anything and there’s no time pressures so it’s a safer environment. 



Which brings me to the day I posted the above screenshot online. Most people would look at that and go “Wow, your incidental exercise hit the 10k steps!” (which FYI is meaningless BS). What you didn’t see by just numbers were my then newly reseceted toenails bleeding from the strain of that much “incidental” walking.


It’s very hard to unlearn that incidental is bad for me these days, both because it’s drummed into us so hard that it’s good (see “active travel/active commuting”), but also because it creates a mental connection that movement hurts. For me (every persons condition/disability is different), only incidental movement hurts, intentional can be safe and fine to do.

6 Replies to “Incidental Exercise”

  1. You raise some good points about incidental exercise, I had no idea it could be so bad for some people. Take care #lifethisweek

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      It’s easy to write it off as suitable for all, that’s for sure.

  2. Ouchy – your toenails! I hadn’t thought of incidental exercise in this way before!

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      Yeah that was a day I was a tad cranky haha. Blood will do that to you 🙂

  3. Thinking of you Vanessa. You raise many good points. So hope less incidental exercise is happening for you now…

    Thank you for joining the Life This Week crew on my blog with your post. Next week the optional prompt is sharing your snaps. I hope to see your post there, on or off prompt and wish you well too. Denyse.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      Well, it’s always a bit of a fight to get what I need but intentional is key for me now and that’s what I’m sticking to as it has the best outcome for me.

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