Wednesday, April 13, 2016

7 Ways to Make Exercising Not Suck

7 kinds of exercise that aren't miserable
image by Curtis Mac Newton via Unsplash

Like I mentioned in my recent confessions post, I am not a usual exerciser.  I can't get away from this niggling feeling, though, that exercise is important, not because it can change how I look, because it keeps my body healthy.  I know I don't have to tell you how important or useful good health is, we all know the spiel.  We probably all know how annoying it can be to find a schedule and consistency, too, let alone a place to exercise where we don't feel self conscious or intimidated.

Well, the very good news is that exercise and health don't have to come from a gym.  I've had a membership at a gym for a total of one month of my life when I was living with my BFF the month before her wedding.  We would go together to this gym that was attended mostly by seniors, so there wasn't much pressure to impress anyone.  Going to a gym in the center of Atlanta, though, where gyms are filled with people who actually know how to use all those machines... no thanks I'll stay home and use a yoga video.

Thankfully, yoga videos are a legitimate avenue for good exercise.  If your goal is to get as fit as possible in as little time as possible, you're probably better off meeting with a personal trainer, but if you just want to build some strength and give your heart rate a high (three times a week is advised by the professionals!), there are a lot more options than going to the gym.

Here are 7 kinds of exercise that are actually enjoyable:

#1 Dance classes 
Any dance style besides finger dance will give your body a chance to build up a sweat and probably build up some muscle, too.  It's also an opportunity to make friends, because most people at a beginner dance class are there to have fun.   I found an awesome group of girls at my belly dance class that make it that much more enjoyable to come to class.

#2 Hiking
Why run on a treadmill when you can see the outdoors instead?  Hiking for longer distances doesn't just give your body activity, it can work the muscles in your legs, too, depending on what kind of terrain you're covering.  Even though walking in the woods sounds pretty simple, you will want to be sure to stretch your calves, quads, and hamstrings after that.  Trust me.  Click here to start checking out the state parks near you!

#3 Solo yoga
I've been a fan of Yoga with Adriene since last year, and I really appreciate how friendly and encouraging she is, especially when it comes to exploring on your own and going at your own pace.  After going through a few of her videos, I've been able to create a few of my own sessions compiles with the poses I think my body needs.  Solo yoga is always a super relaxed and personal time for me.  No pressure, just spending time on giving my body what it needs.

#4 Group yoga
Thanks to how popular yoga is now, you can find free sessions almost anywhere.  I like to think that going to a large group is a little bit lower on the intimidation scale just because you can blend into the crowd.  Here in Atlanta, there are a couple different options for free yoga.  The Atlanta BeltLine has a few different fitness class options, including yoga.  King of Pops will be starting up their free yoga at the Old 4th Ward Skate Park again later this month.

#5 Play with kids or play like a kid
When I was teaching in Korea, I got to hang out with some of my older students after class at the nearby park one day.  After a pizza dinner, they decided that we would play on the playground, which involved running around, tagging each other, and a lot of pretend.  Who knew babysitting could be such a workout?  (All the moms reading, that's who.)  Other fun ways to get in some exercise like a kid: playing laser tag, jumping on a trampoline, hula hooping, hopscotch, dance revolution at the arcade, and frisbee.

#6 Dog walking
Either as a volunteer at a shelter, for neighbors or friends, or as a freelancing side job, dog walking does good for everyone involved.  Having the company will make walking more interesting and hopefully more fun.  (It's more fun for me, at least, but I am a dog person, through and through.)

#7 Meet people outside for a walk
Instead of chatting with friends over coffee, meet downtown and talk around the block.  Gentle exercise, conversation, and new things to look at and talk about in the shop windows.  How much better is that than sitting still at a table for an hour?  Of course, if you must, you can always get the coffee to go, and then you have the best of both worlds.


Remember, the best workout is the one you actually do.  No matter what it takes to get you moving and get you excited about moving, it's good.  Not so you can be a certain number, but so that you can be healthier and stronger.  Here's to health!

Do you have another way to exercise to add to the list!  Help a girl who hates running and add it in a comment below!

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