Some people live to work out, but most of us have to force ourselves to hit the gym or go for a run. There’s no doubt that exercise is essential to well-being, but actually getting off your behind and doing it is a different story. With this in mind, we decided to take a creative approach to getting fit. So instead of convincing yourself to endure the ‘dreadmill’, try some of these unusual yet fun ways to work out.
• Go to the park, and don’t forget to take your Frisbee or a ball along, and perhaps a friend for company (we suggest the four-legged canine variety). But here’s the key: don’t take your car or motorcycle. Walk, jog or cycle your way there. It will prove both entertaining and effective.
• If you live in an apartment building, simple things can make a difference. Instead of standing around waiting for the elevator, take the stairs. Try to go one floor above yours and come back down before you head into your flat. It’s a quick trick to burn a few extra calories.
• Dog owners usually have a willing workout buddy just a whistle away. Instead of getting a sibling or hired help to take Spot for a walk, why not do it yourself? Is your mutt tagging along while you run errands? Run with him – you’ll do some cardio, and he’ll be thrilled. You could also horse around with him to make things more fun for you both, and you can even do this around the house.
• Chores can be a pain, but you can be creative and get some good exercise while you do them. Give your domestic help a few days off (or a week); better still, just do it all yourself. Turn any chore into a more interesting and healthy activity by competing with yourself. Time yourself as you fold clothes, clean rooms, dust furniture and wash dishes. Each day, try to beat your best time. Even mundane things like vacuuming and mopping can take an energetic turn – put on some music and dance! Which brings us to...
• Dancing is one of the most effective ways to work out, and great fun to boot. Join a class you’ve had your eye on. Zumba and salsa are great ways to burn calories and stay in shape, all while having a blast.
If sticking to a schedule and going to a class is a pain you could do without, just play your favourite upbeat songs and dance it up in your room.
• This next idea is perhaps the most fun of all. If you have siblings or a partner, you’ve got an effective way of getting your blood pumping – pillow fight! You’ll get to relive a bit of your childhood and burn that cupcake you snuck in after lunch (and you thought nobody was watching).
• Competition is always a great motivator. Test yourself against your friends, but on small things like short races. Avoid your gas-guzzling SUV and jog over to the pub instead.
• In fact, make it a point to steer clear of the car whenever you can. If you’re going out for coffee or to grab a bite, use your feet. If you’re not too far from your destination, just walk. When you need to buy groceries, be mobile (and take a backpack).
And here’s another hint: don’t stock up too much, so that you make more trips. In addition, the weight of the groceries will add a weight training component to your cardio.
• As relaxing as it is to get a massage, giving one can help you burn some calories. If a friend or family member asks, don’t refuse. Give as many massages as you can (and earn some brownie points while you’re at it).
• Believe it or not, laughing works your muscles. Apart from elevating your mood, it makes your entire body feel more relaxed. Guffaw as much as you can, whether it’s with your favourite comedies or by enduring a tickle-fest.
• If you’re a fan of the idiot box, the remote is your best pal. But it isn’t very friendly to your body, so tuck the clicker off in a remote corner of the house. Every time you want to change the channel, you’ll have no choice but to stop being a couch potato. The more trips you make, the more calories you burn.
• For the creative types, this next method will be an enriching experience. If you like redecorating, you’re in for a treat. Make it regular affair – your mind stays active, your creative juices flow, and you’re likely to be running around a fair bit. A healthy you and a happy home in one fell swoop is a bargain, we think.
• Some people have a habit of pacing around while on the phone. If you don’t count yourself among this group, give it a go. You catch up with work or your friends, and you get some walking done at the same time. It might not seem like a lot, but it all adds up!