Let’s face it, for most of us, heading to the gym is easier said than done. Here’s a few fun and easy ways to get in shape.
Visions of sweaty bodies, tedious exercises and back-breaking efforts are what most people imagine when they think about working out. While it’s hard to argue that a well-rounded workout routine isn’t necessary for a good fitness plan, there are ways we can ease up on the exercises with some fun and easy ways to get in shape. Some even allow you to bring friends and family.
Put on your dancing shoes! Dancing is an excellent exercise. Dancing gives most of your body quite the work out, especially the lower extremities. It’s also a pretty intense cardio session depending on how crazy you want to get.
Of course, if you love going out to the clubs, then dancing is right up your alley but clubbing it isn’t mandatory. There are plenty of dance studios that offer lessons in all styles of dancing from African and salsa to county or ballroom. Seek out dance groups. My parents belonged to a square dance club for many years. There’s a dance for every level of fitness, plus there’s nothing wrong with getting a little exercise while at date night.
Similar to dancing, Zumba is performed in a gym. It’s perfect for those who may not have a willing partner to dance with. Zumba basically combines aerobics and dancing by choreographing your moves to various styles of music. For the true anti-social butterflies, fear not…Zumba DVD’s are available to do it right at home. For classes in your area or to purchase a DVD, visit zumba.com.
No, we don’t mean to scale the summit of Mount McKinnley (yeah, we know it’s now called Denali), we’re talking about those man-made walls with rock-like protrusions sticking out that people climb. It’s a heck of a workout, total body actually. Rock climbing offers varying degrees of complexity. While there are some outdoor parks, most are indoors. No inclement weather detours on this one. A great activity to do with the youngins.
Take a Hike!
More and more municipalities and states are spending big dollars on trails. As a youngster, the only trails we had were those we carved out of the woods ourselves. Today there are some beautiful trails to take advantage of. Walk them or jog them. Backpack a lunch for a picnic at the half-way point. What a way to work off that lunch. Bring a pair of binoculars and start bird watching. Hone your camera skills. Hiking is not only a great exercise, it’s also a great escape from our hectic lives. Nothing beats getting out into nature and reminding yourself what fresh air smells like.
Yeah, that crazy fad from the 1950s is back, and back in a big way, but now it’s called “Hooping”. While it may have only been a goofy craze back then, today health pros agree that hooping is a great cardio workout. It also helps trim the hips, waist, buttocks, lower back muscles, abdominals and thighs.
Hooping can be done anywhere, alone at home or in a group with a class. Yes, there are now classes, groups and videos. Give it a try, you’ll be amazed at the workout.
Ahh…the bike. No, we don’t mean one of those stationary bikes. We mean the kind that actually takes you somewhere. Similar to hiking, there are some great trails out there. Even a cruise to town for lunch has its benefits. Despite what the the biking enthusiasts might say, an expensive bike is not necessary unless your goal is to compete in the Tour de France. Biking offers another way to experience the great outdoors and bring some family along for the ride.
The jump rope doesn’t get enough credit. Could it be that its simplicity disguises it from being a true workout apparatus? Maybe so, but give it a half-hour trial run and you’ll soon change your tune, jump roping has several advantages.
A jump rope routine can be done anywhere. Do it in the bedroom, in front of the TV, the back yard or listening to your favorite music. Why, it even packs well. Take it to your next out-of-town conference. What other piece of workout equipment travels that well? Besides traveling well, what other 15 minute full-body cardio workout are you aware of that burns a whopping 200-plus calories? As an additional bonus, balance and coordination are greatly improved.
Join a Team
Nothing supports fitness like a competitive spirit amongst peers. There are plenty of sports teams out there for all sports, ages and skill set. If there was a sport you were interested in as a kid, maybe its time to revisit that passion. Check with your local park district, YMCA or community center. Many community colleges and health centers also offer similar programs. Even joining a bowling league at your local bowling alley burns more calories than watching the most recent situation comedy show. Team sports are a great way to meet new people, enjoy camaraderie and stay fit.
Who would have thought that an article about fun and easy ways to get in shape would include video games? Playing video games use to be a true indication of a couch potato, but times have changed. Today’s technology brings us motion sensors. While this might sound like techie mumbo jumbo, these sensors allow us to get actively involved in our video games. Some of them are actually quite the workout. Whatever system you’re using, there are options for aerobics, yoga and even workout sessions. How about playing your favorite sport?
The technology is even capable of determining calories burned, progress tracking and the ability to individualize workouts with complete progress reports. Keep an eye on this one. It’s a fitness routine that’s sure to grow.
Whether it’s roller skating, ice skating or inline skating, it’s a great aerobic workout. In addition, skating builds legs and tones your whole lower body. The other advantage to skating is that it puts less stress on the leg joints than jogging does.
Put a Splash on Life
Find a pool. Swimming is a perfect workout. Check your park district, YMCA and even some schools have open swim times. An indoor pool would be best so you’re never impeded by weather conditions. There are pool classes featuring water aerobics (AquaFit) and Zumba (AquaZumba). Water exercise is perfect for those looking for a low-impact routine.
Then There’s That Other Thing
You know that thing that two people do when they’re in love, usually later in the evening…yeah, that. It’s a great cardio workout, burns calories and is a great exercise for abdominal muscles. Of course rumor has it that all portions of the body can achieve a workout if various techniques are utilized. Our editorial review board thinks you know the rest.
This is just but a few fun and easy ways to get in shape. But there are plenty more. You may even be participating in one we didn’t mention. With so much variety available, there’s an activity for everyone. No more excuses to not get fit!
Image by oklanica, “zumba logo dance1_full” August 5, 2012 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.