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Exercise in disguise: six fun activities

Exercise is a vital human activity that prevents sickness, helps you sleep better, and increases energy levels throughout the day. Despite these widely acknowledged benefits, it’s not always easy to exercise. Fortunately, there are alternatives to working out at the gym 5 days a week, unless this is your thing. All exercise takes effort, but it shouldn’t feel like work. Ideally, you shouldn’t feel compelled. Rather, you should want to exercise. Here are 6 ways to put some fun back into fitness.

  1. Enlist an energetic friend: find a friend to exercise with you. Don’t pick just anybody, pick someone energetic, fun, and sociable. Being with your friend is the primary motivation; the exercise you do together is the added benefit. By shifting the focus from the exercise to your friendship, fitness becomes a whole lot easier. It’s an added bonus if he or she is more committed than you, as this will drive you on and can keep you motivated.
  2. Group fitness: group classes are a way to exercise with like-minded people in a supportive environment. It isn’t hard to find inexpensive, locally available exercise classes, including yoga, tai chi, step aerobics and swimming. All of these physical activities relax your body and improve its flexibility and muscle tone.
  3. Learn a new sport: learning a new sport will not only get you moving, but will also allow you to acquire new skills and have fun. Choose an activity to suit your age, fitness level, and taste. If you enjoy walking and green landscapes, why not try golf? If you prefer something more dynamic that you and your partner can do together, maybe tennis would suit. You’ve got nothing to lose by giving it a go!
  4. Dance: tango, foxtrot or jive your way to better health! Dancing is an excellent way to increase endurance and improve balance, and exercise is an integral byproduct of this entertaining activity. Although not perceived as exercise by many, some modern dances, notably the zumba, are known for combining aerobic movements with different types of Latino dance. The tempo of the music is a good indicator of the cardiovascular intensity of the workout you’ll get from dancing. Dancing is equally good for men and women…go on gentlemen, give it a go!
  5. Keep your children company: you might be surprised at how easy it is to separate your children from their mobile phones and computers when you propose a game of basketball, football, or tennis. Young children love showing off their skills to their parents. Older children less so, but once they’ve shrugged off their initial reluctance about how “cool” it is, they have a great time too. The very act of trying to keep up with them during a game will give you a cardiovascular workout worthy of the name. Careful not to overdo it, though. Strains, sprains, and falls occur more easily when you’re tired. If your children get the bug, you could form teams, make it a weekly competition, hold practice sessions, and maybe even come up with some prizes for the winners at the end of the “championship series.”
  6. Video games: Not obvious, this one, but the key to exercising here is the game you play. As in real life, static games like solitaire and chess are passive in a video game. However, gaming became active with the advent of the Wii video games console in 2006. One of the Wii’s first titles, Wii Sports, let gamers play tennis and box. Wii tennis consumes 179 calories per hour and Wii boxing 174. Compared with their real-life counterparts, they are less active: real tennis consumes 318 calories per hour, and hitting a punch bag consumes 382. Nevertheless, even at about half the real-world value, these games are way more active than pressing buttons on a remote control. Fitness and dance titles are also available and popular, and other console manufacturers, eg, Microsoft, have also brought out motion control detectors (eg, Kinect) for their consoles.