One of the keys to a healthy life is finding healthy activities that you actually enjoy doing so you will stay active. If you're not a fan of spending hours at the gym, take the time to try many different physical activities to find out what is fun for you. The key to success is finding fun activities that can become your go-to exercise options, without actually feeling like exercise.
Five Fun Activities to Boost Fitness
1. Get Outside and Play
There's something about the great outdoors that just seems to encourage exercise. Fitness expert Joan Pagano encourages people to get out and play, regardless of their age. Find an outdoor activity that gets you moving, but more importantly, that you enjoy doing.
"Be playful," Pagano urges. "Remind yourself of childhood pleasures. Take a lesson from kids. Watch them and you'll see them sprinting, then resting." She adds that this interval work can help you get some great exercise without feeling like you're actually exercising.
Pagano says that you can get a great workout in while your kids play at the park. "Play in the park," she says. "Take you indoor strength training routine outdoors." Here is her suggested playground workout:
- Diagonal push-ups using the back of a park bench for support
- Squats; stand in front of the bench using the seat to measure how far to squat down.
- Sit backwards on the bench, threading your feet through the slats in the back. Cross your arms over your chest and do crunches.
- Repeat the circuit.
"Intersperse each exercise with 20 jumping jacks," she adds.
There is a good chance that the outdoor activities you love may burn more calories than you think. For example, for a 145 pound woman:
- A 60 minute game of Ultimate Frisbee burns approximately 550 calories.
- Walking can burn around 250 calories per hour, while hiking with a backpack can increase the hourly calorie burn to around 450.
- Sixty minutes of sand volleyball will burn around 500 calories.
Dance is a form of exercise with multiple benefits. You can get a great workout solo or with a partner, or even with a large group of people. Dancing can be as simple as shimmying to the radio in the comfort of your own home or as structured as attending a fun group fitness class like Zumba.
Consider looking into classes at local dance studios. While these classes are typically less about fitness and more about technique, they provide a fantastic way to get moving. Dancing doesn't have to be structured, though. You can also:
- Head to a dance club or concert and move to the music.
- Find some fun dance videos on YouTube and try to mimic the movements.
- Throw a dance party for your friends and family.
The intensity and duration of your dancing will dictate the calories you'll burn, but if your main goal is to move your body while having fun, dancing is a great option. While the number of calories you'll burn depend largely on the type of dance, if you enjoy the act of dancing there's an excellent chance you won't mind dancing vigorously for an extended period of time.
According to research conducted by Fred Astaire Dance studios, some of the benefits from dance include:
- Increased immunity function
- Increased bone density
- Decreased stress and lower levels of depression
The point is to move, and dancing certainly provides that opportunity!
3. Active Video Games
If your idea of playing video games is sitting on a sofa for hours on end, it's time to expand your experience with today's active video game options. Systems such as the Wii Fit and the Kinect marry the ideas of fun and fitness together by making physical activity a game.
At-Home Gaming Systems
Benefits of these at-home gaming systems include:
- You can exercise at home, at whatever time works with your schedule.
- The games are designed to be entertaining and will also bring out the competitor in you, as points are awarded for activity.
- A huge library of games are available, allowing you to find games that appeal to your favorite physical activities.
- Some of these systems monitor your progress, which can be incredibly motivating for someone trying to get into better shape.
Gaming systems can be fun for the entire family, but you don't have to have a child in the home to merit one of these systems. Some of the games are designed specifically for adults and provide very vigorous exercise. Getting caught up in the game, it's likely you'll forget you're also being active.
You don't need a full-blown gaming system to incorporate video games into physical activity. Consider trying out a system like Goji Play, which turns your iPhone or iPad into a gaming system that communicates with the cardio equipment at the gym. Whether you want to play a snowboarding simulation game or try your hand at some trivia, systems like this can make your workout fly by.
The number of calories you can burn varies greatly by activity, but your gaming system or app will keep track of this for you. As an example, on a Wii Fit system, in 30 minutes a 130 pound woman can expect to burn:
- 207 doing Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2
- 177 calories playing All Star Cheer Squad
- 89 calories with EA Sports Active
- 85 calories playing Skate It
4. Make Everyday Movements Fun
Tackling everyday chores around your home may not seem like fun, and you may not think of these activities as calorie-burners, but the truth is that they are. Cleaning, gardening and even walking through a grocery store doing your shopping count toward your daily movement goal.
- You can turn chores into a fun activity if you use products like the AirRam vacuum, which plugs into your computer to show you how many calories you burned while vacuuming.
- Blast music and dance along while you dust, sweep and pick up around your home.
- Clean in intervals, speeding up and working to a timer to where you move rapidly for a few minutes and then slowly for a minute or two.
Consider purchasing a Fitbit or similar item which will track your calories throughout the entire day in all your activities. When you start tracking calories and see how much impact your everyday activities can have on your calorie burn, suddenly the act of mopping the kitchen floor or pulling weeds in your garden becomes a calorie-burning game.
How many calories can you burn calories while doing chores around the house? Here are a few examples:
- Weeding your garden burns over 300 calories an hour.
- Giving your dog a bath burns more than 100 calories in a half hour.
- Mopping the floor burns around 240 calories an hour.
5. Martial Arts
Martial arts such as karate, tae kwon do and aikido can boost confidence, help you lose weight and can help adults build bone density. Even more important, however, is the fact that many adults and kids really enjoy practicing martial arts. Most martial arts involve both cardio and strength work. Classes typically run two or three times a week, helping you meet the CDC's recommendations for weekly physical activity.
If you're trying martial arts for the first time as an adult, keep a couple things in mind:
- There are myriad martial arts styles to choose from. Take advantage of free trial classes from a variety of studios to see what style you find most intriguing.
- Make sure that the instructor you choose appeals to your needs. Martial arts can be hard work, and if you don't like the instructor there is a good chance you won't stick with it.
A 145 pound woman can expect to burn nearly 510 calories in an hour-long karate class.
Simply making a conscious effort to move more and be more active can be a huge step in the right direction of getting fit. Walking your dog, gardening, and even playing a musical instrument all add to your daily calorie burn and help you to keep moving. Choose activities that feel less like exercise and more like a fun pastime and you'll be moving more than ever.