Gyms aren’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean exercise isn’t right for you. Exercise is a vital part of health, and there’s something for everyone. The key is simply to get your body moving!
There are a myriad of fun activities you can do inside, outside in nature, around the town, or even in your office that can keep you fit and healthy. Thinking outside the box — or in this case, the gym — can save you money and help keep your fitness on track. Here are 14 ideas to get you started!
Stretching in the morning can help realign your spine and get the blood flowing throughout your body. Yoga can also loosen your body from being in a stagnant state overnight. Yoga has become an insanely popular activity because it has physical and mental benefits and can help people who suffer from a wide variety of disorders. Simple yoga stretches can help you feel more alert and ready to start your day.
If you don’t know any yoga poses, you can find some on YouTube, or on yoga apps which contain a variety of poses and instructions on how to do them safely. Doing some light stretching before bed can also loosen tension in your body for a more restful night’s sleep. Short stretches throughout the day can help keep your body limber.
This seems so odd, but that’s what makes it fun! If you have to work late and don’t have time to hit the gym or go for a jog, spread out your workout throughout the day while at work. Don’t worry about upsetting the boss, because it takes very little time away from your work. When you get to work, take the stairs and lightly jog in place before leaving the stairwell.
When you get to your desk, there are a variety of exercises you can do to keep you active throughout the day. Do some normal and wide squats while waiting on the phone. Use water bottles, a book, or closed files for some resistance training. Stand while working from time to time for a change of atmosphere to keep you alert.
When you go to the bathroom, do some high-knees or jumping jacks before heading back to your desk. If you have to stay later than everyone else, use that time to do some burpees, mountain climbers, froggers, or other high-intensity sets that give you maximum energy in a short period of time.
The most important thing to remember if you have a desk job is to get up and move around every half an hour — even if it’s just for a moment. Breaking up all of that sitting is essential to good health.
High-intensity interval training
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a workout that consists of short bursts of activity with little rest periods between sets. You can burn as many as 500 calories with a 30-minute HIIT workout, which makes it ideal for fitting in an effective workout before or after work, or even during a lunch break.
HIIT is a challenging workout that can be done anywhere. There are videos on YouTube and apps that have exercises for you, as well as built-in timers so you know when to move on to the next exercise. If you love nature, go to a park or just step outside for these no-equipment exercises. If it’s too hot outside or raining, work out in your home.
Zumba has caught on in the fitness world as being a fun way to melt away fat. Zumba is a cross between fast-paced cardio and Latin dancing. Although you could work out with a Zumba instructor, many of us might feel embarrassed if we can’t keep up with the pace or don’t know how to dance. Exercise doesn’t have to be serious. It can be silly too! As long as you keep trying, you’ll eventually get the hang of it. Until then, laugh at yourself and keep moving.
If you don’t want to take a class, work out in your home with free Zumba workouts from instructors with YouTube pages. When you feel comfortable, you can either go to the gym or save your money and show off your moves outside. Doing Zumba in nature can feel extra freeing, and will give you some vitamin D.
One of the most freeing exercises is rollerblading. You can blade around town, along the beachfront to catch some rays, or in a park to be around trees and plants. Even though it’s a low-impact workout, you can burn between 500 and 800 calories in an hour!
Feeling the wind against your skin as you are moving can make you feel like you are flying rather than exercising, making the time pass by effortlessly.
Cardio-boxing is a high-impact, fast-paced blend of traditional cardio and kickboxing. You can use weighted gloves and ankle weights to challenge you, but you can burn a lot of calories even just using your own body weight. Cardio-boxing is a full-body workout that can help you burn calories, tone your muscles, and increase your flexibility and speed.
Although you could go to a gym for this, there are many instructors on YouTube who provide free workout routines for beginners, intermediates, and experts.
Climbing can be a fun way to challenge your body, focus your mind, and give you a feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top. Many people don’t have the money, or safety equipment and knowledge to go rock climbing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the thrill of climbing. Rock climbing walls are popping up in gyms, public parks, and even in malls.
If you don’t have one available, start climbing trees! It’s such a basic activity that we take it for granted as adults. Try it, and you’ll feel like a kid again. Climbing trees, like rock climbing, gives you the experience of viewing nature from a bird’s eye view. It helps to improve your balance, allows you to stretch as you reach for the next limb, and tones your arms, legs, and back. It also builds confidence and teaches you to trust your intuition.
Swimming is a great sport that can be used for endurance training, cardio, or water aerobics. Water aerobics are fun exercises that can help your body heal after an exercise injury, or if you suffer from arthritis or rheumatism. According to the Mayo Clinic, light to moderate swimming can burn 400 to 600 calories an hour. Fast-paced lap swimming can burn 700 to 1,000 calories! It’s a full-body workout that is effective regardless of how fast you can swim. Just dive in and enjoy the water.
Sports with family and friends
Watching sports a few days a week has become an American pastime. If you have friends who are into sports, or children who would love to play with you, set a day to play sports. Break your friends or family into teams and set rules according to the sport you are playing.
You can play football, baseball, soccer, roller hockey, Frisbee, tennis, or badminton — to name just a few It’s a great way to get outdoors, get some fresh air, get in a fun workout, and reconnect with the people who matter to you.
If you live near a beach, there are tons of things to do. Most people just sunbathe or go swimming in the ocean. Although these are both fun for a while, like hitting the gym all the time, it can get old. Get creative! Go jogging down the boardwalk, or jog in the sand to build endurance. Play volleyball or Frisbee. Bring a towel or yoga mat and do your workout on the beach. Go snorkling or paddle boarding. Rent a jet ski or kayak.
Plus, almost any no-equipment workout can be done in the sun — just don’t forget to bring your natural sunblock.
Camping can be a fun way to introduce your kids to the great outdoors and learn survival skills. Camping also provides the opportunity to do more unique exercises that are less available in the city. Go hiking and foraging, and teach your kids about healthy fruits and veggies they can eat in the wild. Take your bikes along a dirt trail and enjoy the scenery.
Climb trees together and describe what you can see at varying distances. Row your kayaks or canoes down a river or on a lake and start fishing for your next meal. These are great survival lessons, and great ways to introduce kids to more natural food and lifestyle choices.
Cleaning is often a boring, tedious chore that can leave your back and neck in pain. You can’t avoid cleaning forever, so make it fun! Put some music on while washing the dishes and dance to the music. Throw socks into the clothes basket and try to improve your distance. Dust and dance. Tie some towels or dust rags onto the bottom of your shoes and slide your feet in a scissor formation to remove scuff marks. Swish your body from side to side and twist to get out stubborn marks.
When picking up heavy laundry baskets or moving objects around to clean, use the extra weight to make your squats more effective — just remember to lift with your legs to keep the strain off your back! When picking things up off the ground to put away, leap into a frog pose before picking up the item and hopping to the next. This can also inspire your kids to start helping you with chores.
Around the town
Get that heart rate pumping and go explore the city! Walk, jog, run, bike, rollerblade, or skateboard. All of these are cardio workouts that can be done anywhere that is paved, making them perfect options for city life. Use these as modes of transportation to and from work, or to sneak in some cardio as you go window shopping.
Public parks are great places to exercise for people of all ages. Many have playgrounds and stretching areas. You can complete your morning jog or go play on the swingset. It may sound silly, but incorporating the playground and child-like activities into your workout can make it more fun and easier to stick with.
Bring a jump rope or a Hula-Hoop to tone your belly. Practice any of your no-equipment workouts at the park for a change of atmosphere. Walk your dog. Chase your kids and play games. Use the overhead bars for overhead hangs or chin-ups.
Hopefully, these 14 activities have inspired you to think outside of the box and recognize that exercising doesn’t have to be a chore. Use these ideas to add variety and to prevent your muscles from getting too accustomed to one particular activity.