Incidental vs. Intentional Exercise: What’s More Important?

Incidental vs. Intentional Exercise: What’s More Important?

Photography, KBO Bike,


Incidental vs. Intentional Exercise: What’s More Important?

Taking 10,000 steps, drinking 2 litres of water, moving for 30 minutes a day: staying healthy can feel like a challenge or chore when we give ourselves daily goals to hit and add them to our long list of chores!

The solution? Combine everyday activities with intentional exercises.

Here’s the difference between these two types of movement and how we can harmoniously integrate them into our daily routines to achieve our health goals without ever having to think about it.

Two Types of Exercise

There’s increasing awareness being made about everyday, incidental exercises that we do unintentionally, like climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator and walking to the bakery instead of driving. According to Alex Doré, kinesiologist and trainer, everyday exercises help us be more productive throughout the day. “They allow us to stay active and gradually improve our condition without interfering with our intentional exercises, like those we do at the gym,” he explains.



Photography, Madison Lavern,

Intentional exercises are physical activities planned as part of a workout program or a specific physical activity. These involve a conscious effort to exercise to achieve health or fitness goals, like your kickboxing session, strength training, yoga class and so on.

Being Active Daily

Everyday exercises fit seamlessly into our routines. Gardening, grocery shopping and walking all work the body without us necessarily planning to exercise. The benefit of these exercises is their easy integration into our busy lives. They require no planning, no extra mental effort and no special equipment.

You’ll be surprised how quickly these activities accumulate throughout the day and improve our general physical fitness, endurance, strength and cardio.  They will slowly enhance our overall well-being.

Where should you start?

The key to a good exercise program often lies in a balanced mix of planned and spontaneous activities. By incorporating these into our daily routine, we maintain a constant level of movement throughout the day. Start slowly but surely by opting to walk instead of taking the car several times a week, biking to the office, or vigorously sweeping the yard!



Photography, Caley Vanular,

Find a partner (or a neighbour!) to motivate you to go for a walk or do your local shopping. “By adding intentional training sessions, we can focus on specific aspects of our physical condition that need improvement. A coach can show us the movements to complement our everyday exercises, working muscles that aren’t used often and enhancing our fitness,” explains Doré. Intentional or not, every movement counts in our journey towards a more active daily life.


  • Get outside in the nice weather—play outdoor recreational activities like Frisbee, beach volleyball, or pickleball.
  • Opt for the stairs and avoid escalators or elevators.
  • Have fun dancing the night away with friends!
  • Get out your jump rope and try skipping again.
  • Park the car further away in a parking lot to walk more.





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Incidental vs. Intentional Exercise: What’s More Important?