The other day, I ditched the car and walked 30 minutes to the grocery store. Both arms full of bags, I hoofed it back home. When I finally got to plop the bags onto the kitchen counter, I realized I was drenched in sweat, my face was flushed and my heart was beating hard. Plus I now had endless dinner options. It was my kind of exercise.

If you’re reading this, it’s because you care about moving your body and feeling energized and strong … but maybe you’re not quite a gym person. Or a spin class person. Or a crossfit person. Or an exercise video person. Or a work out in the park with a personal trainer person.

I’m with you. And I’ve been intrigued lately about the idea of getting exercise naturally, like on a homestead, where the butter needs to be churned and the fields need to be hand-harvested and the sheep need to be shorn.

If you’re into the idea of movement with a purpose other than just exercise, and you’re not quite ready to move to an off-grid homestead, here are some ideas for you, organized in categories … oh, and none of the items on this list are “take the stairs” … although we probably should:


  • Give your yard some attention. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, pull the weeds and plant some flowers.
  • Get on all fours and scrub those baseboards.
  • Get the grout between your shower tiles sparkling clean.
  • Wash your car, and while you’re at it, do a full detail job.
  • Only have a few articles of dirty clothes? Wash them by hand.


  • Bike to the grocery store.
  • Walk to the library.
  • Fill in the gaps in your closet! An afternoon trying things on burns more calories than you think!


  • Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and help build a house.
  • Help a friend move.
  • Run around with some kids. If you don’t have kids, borrow some from friends who need a date night.
  • Give a loved one a massage.
  • Tackle the scarily full closet and donate what you no longer use. (This one doubles as housework!)


  • Join a sports team
  • Take a tango class
  • Invite friends to go ice-skating
  • Have a jam session with musically inclined friends. 60 minutes of guitar-ing burns the same about of calories as 25 minutes of pilates.
  • Grab a friend and canoe down the river or go for a hike

How do you work purposeful movement into your day?