I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of working out. I don’t even really like the phrase “working out” because it makes me think of people spending hours at the gym, lifting weights, walking on treadmills and whatever you can do at a gym. Personally, I feel like gym memberships are a HUGE waste of money (although I will say that group fitness classes can be great for social reasons) because there are so many better, FREE ways to work out/stay active. Building muscle and getting “slim” has never been a concern for me, even when I was a little chubbier when I started high school. I do, however, enjoy being in shape and have found several ways to do so that don’t require a gym membership. Some of these ideas are no-brainers, but there is a chance some people may not have considered them a good workout.
- Cycling. This is a great activity to do solo or with a partner. Almost everyone has a bike, and there are always free trails to ride on, or you could cycle around town if bylaws permit. Cycling is obviously good for strengthening your legs but it’s also a great cardio activity!
- Playing with your pets. Dogs love being active, so why not be active with them? My sister-in-law has a dog that loves to chase people (Tag is a mini Australian Shepherd), so running away from her means she gets to play a fun game and I get a little workout, too. If you don’t have a dog you can always offer to pay with/walk the dog of a friend, family member or neighbor. Your local animal shelter might also need walkers.
- Walking. Okay, so everyone knows that walking is good exercise so I suppose I didn’t really need to list it here. But I did, so let me share some ideas for making walking more fun. I personally don’t like to walk alone because it’s kind of boring, but I love walking on easy trails with David! We get a chance to spend some time together and enjoy nature. Last summer I met an old friend and her little boy for ice cream and we ended up walking along the water, chatting and looking at the boats. It was a nice time to catch up but also be active.
- Yard work. “Yard work? Really?!” Yes really! I’m not talking about riding a lawn tractor or picking up dog poo, though. The yard work I’m referring to is tasks like raking, cutting the grass with a mower (self propelling is good, but manual is even better! You know the kind with the metal blades that only move when you move the mower forward or backward?), weeding your garden, planting trees, hauling rocks, etc. Think about it: all those activities work your arm muscles, and some even work your back or legs. Not only are you engaging in physical activity, you’re also taking care of your yard! Two birds with one stone!
- Splitting wood. I guess this would fall under yard work, but I’m going to make it a point on it’s own. Splitting wood is one of David’s “workouts” of choice. He says it’s hard work, but rewarding since you get to see the fruits of your labour right away. It’s also good, old fashioned, man’s work! By spending a few hours cutting wood, he is working his arm and back muscles while providing us with a way to heat out house. I realize not everyone heats exclusively with wood, but if you get a chance to engage in this activity, I highly recommend it. Now, I’m not actually strong enough to split large stumps of wood, but I can do smaller pieces if I have the right ax.
- House chores. Maybe I’m just out of shape again, but I find some chores to be pretty hearty. Tasks like vacuuming requires me to move around a lot, which is good cardio, and often move heavy furniture which engages my core and upper body. Washing floors is good for stretching your back and upper body muscles out too, since you have to extend your reach out. But the best kind of chore related exercise comes when you have to quickly prepare your home for guests! Have you ever had to speed clean your whole house? Trust me, it works up quite a sweat!
- Yoga or Pilates. These exercises may seem like obvious workouts, but maybe not to someone who has never tried them. Yoga can be quite relaxing or it can be hard work, depending on the movements you do. One of the great things about yoga is that you can focus on building specific muscles or do a whole body routine that strengthens a variety of muscles. There are tons of free videos online to guide you with yoga, but my favourite is Yoga with Adriene . I know some Christians struggle with the practicing of yoga because of it’s ungodly spiritual side, but when I choose to practice yoga I focus on the body movements instead of the spiritual stuff. If you want a really hardcore yoga workout, may I suggest the P90X system? I will caution yoga beginners against P90X because it is a very intense routine. Having done it myself, I can say it’s not easy and not quite my style but it will make you sweat.
So there you have it, a list of 7 different ways to get exercise that don’t really feel like exercise! I’d like to state that I’m not qualified in any way to give medical advice, so I suggest speaking with your doctor before trying any new exercise regimes. What I’ve listed above is fairly safe for everyone, but please use common sense!
Do you have a favourite way to get exercise?