Are there passive ways of work out?

Basically I'm quite lazy, for example running is tiresome, stretching is also somewhat painful. So pls suggest some passive ways of work out, that are easier to keep doing , instead of normally active ways ?

One example of passive work out is massage: it build up muscles but one only need lie down ( and endure some pain).

A similar one is lie on the bed on the back, stretching out the head and shoulder, so to stretch the neck back -- office life make my neck a bit curly.

Another one is like horse riding , as the horse keeps jogging , one need maintain the balance hence exercise the muscles on the waist.

Another passive way, I'm not sure if it's true, is to work out muscles on the arms by tying one's hand to a hook or rope and lifting him up, then the body weight will stretch the arms and strengthen them.

5 Answers 5


Your problem

A passive way of working out sounds like a paradox.

If you want to become stronger, you need to exert your muscles. And exertion of the muscles is an "activity", which is an antonym to "passivity".

If you want to get in shape by lying in your bed, you'll be disappointed.

In the end, the problem isn't that you're lazy. Most of us are. But we work out anyway. It's discipline. If you don't have that, getting in shape isn't going to happen.


You mention massage, but that is not a workout. It relieves stress on the muscles, but it does not stimulate any measurable muscle growth. It won't get you in shape.

Laying on your bed and stretching is not a workout. It relieves stress on the muscles, but it does not stimulate any measurable muscle growth. It won't get you in shape.

Horse riding is somewhat valid. You need to exert some muscular force to remain upright, but still, unless you plan on galloping for hours on end, it's not going to get you in shape. And you won't find any horses willing to do this for you, unless you have a whole stable full of them. Buy or rent, it's going to cost you way more than a gym membership.

And the last one, tying your hands and stretching them out, is NOT going to build muscle. I don't understand where you're getting this from. At this point, you're grasping at straws. And literally grasping at straws seems like a better option than what you've suggested so far.

  • 4
    +1 for 8x5 sets of straw grasping. I would argue in addition to discipline it is also a level of habit and/or pure enjoyment of the activity.
    – John
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 9:01
  • 1
    Yeah, discipline is really only a necessity if you're lazy, which seemed apt here.
    – Alec
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 9:03
  • 5
    +1 "the problem isn't that you're lazy. Most of us are. But we work out anyway." I rarely look forward to going to the gym (Except for chest day!), but once I'm there I enjoy my time and I then can be lazy. :D
    – Yousend
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 13:16
  • So just finding ways to stand for a while, or using a fitness ball to sit on (which moves so you have to keep your balance) not valid answers then?
    – Ryan
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 18:26
  • Good answer, except horseback riding still isn't a great example for this. It's not a calorie burner, but it is a muscle builder - I have never felt more sore than the day after my first riding lesson.
    – user20088
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 18:36

Assuming you have no physical limitations, your problem seems to be a lack of motivation. Rather than doing things you don’t like, you should find an activity that can keep your interest for a minimum of twenty minutes or more. Setting achievable goals may help with improving motivation. Ask yourself, “What do I want out of exercise?”. Once you’ve answered that question, set several small goals to help you achieve what it is you want.

There are many ways to improve motivation. One of the best is to work out with a partner. Finding someone who shares the same goal(s) can add a dimension of fun and responsibility to your exercise program.

Lastly, if you truly feel unmotivated, you should ask yourself why that is. The benefit you receive from regular exercise is going to be directly proportional to the effort you expend.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 1:03

As the others have indicated, the best return on exercise involves concerted effort, pushing yourself to the limit. That said, casual exercise can also be worthwhile, at least for the purpose of staying relatively healthy. It's not "lying in bed and doing nothing", but it's also not "8x5 strong-lifts of maximum weight" or even "10 push-ups and 10 pull-ups every morning".

First of all, for general exercise, walking is not a bad start. It generally doesn't require much exertion and with the addition of a book, a smart phone game, or a podcast, it can be entertaining at the same time (obligatory note, avoid distractions that prevent you from noticing your environment). If you're willing to set aside the book, you can add a bit more to your workout by making up little games to vary your routine, such as ascending the staircase into the park along the outside instead, traversing the playground equipment however it makes sense at the moment, or even just walking along a curb, trying to balance yourself. It's not intense work, but you get some of the benefits as with the horse-riding of your body having to work to maintain your equilibrium.

Another option is to incorporate some sort of exercise in your times when you're stationary. A stress ball squeezed while reading forum posts online is still exercise (and good for stress relief as you imagine squeezing the necks of commenters). With a small dumb-bell, or even a bag with some books in it, you can do curls with a free hand. Even keeping yourself upright at the edge of the seat instead of leaning back in your chair works core muscles in a fairly passive manner. If you're willing to make an investment into more equipment, there are people who work on a treadmill or exercise bike (or have something under their desk to simulate the same).

Lastly, there's a technique called "greasing the groove" typically used for pushing one's limits, but also usable casually, where you don't bother with a regular workout, but rather just do a few reps whenever the idea occurs to you. You can do a few pull-ups everytime you pass the door frame, do 5 push-ups every time you get up for coffee (pushing up against a wall or your desk if you want to make it easier), or doing a few lunges while your code is compiling. It's low effort, and won't build up muscle, but it's generally painless and it does reinforce the idea to your body that exercise doesn't have to hurt.

  • 3
    "avoid distractions that prevent you from noticing your environment" - Why do you hate Pokemon Go? ;-) Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 16:51
  • @ConspicuousCompiler: ^_^ I've also seen people run into poles and trip over curbs while reading books or checking their email.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 16:53

Others have already pointed out the obvious paradox. I disagree with some of the answers (esp. regarding the horse riding). I thought I'd add my opinion:

Horse riding should build muscle because the core stabilization and leg muscles are used a lot while you try to stay on the horse and giving the horse signals by pressing together your legs etc. If this does not feel like an excercise to you this might be suitable for you.

You might also want to try some light yoga - in the beginning it is basically a matter of keeping your balance. That alone will start to build the supporting muscles. And with a bit of training you might get motivated to try ever harder / more exhausting positions.

These things will not get you in perfect shape (whatever that is) quickly but at this point it is really more important to get you to do something regularly. So pick anything that does not feel like much of an exhaustion to you and do it... and don't get demotivated by others saying that "if you are not sore afterwards it was not a real workout" or similar.

  • This answer could be improved by use of evidence. Perhaps look at studies of effectiveness of low-intensity exercise.
    – John
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 6:55

Dieting is sort of like a passive workout in that you get more physically fit by not doing something -- ie, not eating. After I lost 100+ lbs by by tweaking my diet, physical activity suddenly became fun. Now I look forward to going to the gym to lift weights.

Beyond that, if you live a sedentary lifestyle like I do (being a software developer) I would suggest doing simple leg workouts at your desk. You can pick up a set of ankle weights to intensify your at-desk leg workouts for even more benefit -- but don't leave them on all day, or walk around the office with them on, as this can be bad for your joints. If you already have joint problems, you probably want to avoid ankle weights altogether.

  • Ankle weights are bad for your joints: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/2258/…
    – John
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 6:53
  • @JJosaur brings up an excellent point. I've clarified my answer to reflect this. Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 13:05
  • I'd argue that dieting contributes nothing to building muscle or a healthy cardiovascular system. If you only lost weight over 6 months and did not exercise you would lose muscle mass and potentially be weaker than when you were at your starting weight. Also, try and be critical of articles that don't explicitly cite scientific studies, don't accept the only presented upsides.
    – John
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 13:47

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