You have probably been told about the importance of exercise many times. Exercise is crucial for our physical, mental and emotional health. In addition to our diet, our activity level is the most important factor in determining our lifelong health and wellness. Its that important. Got it? Good.

But what if you hate to exercise? What if the very idea of walking into a gym makes you break out in hives and slide deeper into your couch? We understand. Luckily, there are many ways to get the motion you need without wearing spandex. Hopefully you will enjoy at least a few of them.

1. Go Outside

The simplest way to get exercise and improve your physical and mental health is to go outside. Walk in a park, hike in the nearest woods, or even just meander around the block. Many of the great thinkers credit their daily walks with giving them the mental space to receive inspiration. Once you get started, you may be surprised how much you enjoy it.

Engaging in physical activity in nature has other benefits, as well. It can relieve depression, improve cognitive ability, and reduce anxiety. Observing and interacting with nature helps us feel more grounded and connected to life.

2. Play with Children and Dogs

The pure playfulness and exuberance of children makes being around them a great way to sneak in exercise. Most children love to run and play simple chasing and hiding games. Why not go all out and run with them? You will entertain and bond with the children, and maybe even work up a sweat without trying.

3. Take Alternative Transportation

Most people spend a ridiculous amount of time sitting in cars. If you live close enough to your workplace, walk or bike to it. This will give you exercise twice a day, save you money on gas, help preserve the environment, and make you one of the coolest people at your job.

If you are far away from work and must take public transportation or drive, you can still sneak exercise into your commute. Try parking a mile from your office, or get off the bus or train a stop early and walk the extra blocks.

This trick also applies to taking the stairs. In your office or a shopping center, skip the lift and escalators and take the stairs whenever possible, as fast as you can.

4. Grow Your Own

Gardening might seem like an old lady activity, but its actually a great way to stay in shape. Shoveling and wheel barreling dirt, turning compost, transplanting starts, and raking leaves all burn a significant number or calories. Want to really build muscle? Use one of those old-fashioned push mowers to maintain your grass.

Even if you dont grow food, just doing your own lawn maintenance can give you at least one good workout a week. And if you do start growing some veggies, you can save a lot of money on your produce bill. Thats two sneaky life hacks in one.

5. Love Up Your House

Clean the walls, scrub the floors, and get the tub to sparkle, and you will understand why they call it housework! Keeping your house clean will help you stay organized, which saves time and increases productivity. A clean and neat home can lift your spirits and improve your mood. And a clean living environment reduces the presence of bacteria and other things that can make you sick.

If you are handy, repair projects are another way to love up your home and sneak in some exercise. Sand and stain that old table or put a new screen on the back door and you will feel better on many levels. Of course, dangerous or complicated tasks should be left to professionals, but there are probably many ways you can upkeep and improve your home.

6. Dance

Dancing can burn as many calories as aerobics. It can also increase agility and balance, and can help improve memory as we age. Partner dance, like Salsa and Tango, gives us the added boost of touch and connection. And hopefully you will be having so much fun that it will not feel like a workout.

If dance is not your thing, find something that you enjoy. It could be flag football, roller-skating, or even air guitar. Just play around until you find an activity you like enough to get off the couch.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can get more exercise without trying to force yourself to do something you despise. The key is to both find things you like to do that move your body, and sneak in exercise whenever you can. Health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of heart rate-raising activity every week. If you try out all of these tips, you will easily keep your body in shape without having to go to a gym.