The word "exercise" might conjure up images of the gym, lifting heavy weights, competitive high intensity fitness classes, or spending endless hours drudging away on cardio equipment. Yet exercise can be found in a variety of places - many of which are outside of a gym!
Webster defines exercise as, "activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness." Which means exercise can be found in a variety of places and by doing any number of physical activities, such as:
Riding the bike to work
Playing soccer, basketball or tennis with friends and/or family
Hiking with the dog
Taking a yoga class
A fast paced walk around the neighborhood
Bodyweight exercises (done at the gym or at home)
It is important to note that The American Heart Association recommends adults engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days a week (a total of 150 minutes weekly), or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days a week (a total of 75 minutes weekly) and to engage in high intensity cardiorespiratory exercise and muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days a week.
New to fitness? Try out a few of the following fitness options! Recreational Sports Leagues: do you enjoy soccer, tennis, volleyball, softball, hockey or football? Do you like to exercise with others, maybe even in a slightly competitive environment? Check out a few local rec leagues! Not only can this be a fun way to get more regular exercise in your week, it's also a great way to meet other people who enjoy the same interest you do. And bonus, having a partner or team as a part of your regular fitness routine will deliver some other pretty great benefits too, such as accountability and social support.
Did you know...studies show that regularly engaging in a physical hobby reduces stress and boosts self-confidence by providing individuals with a healthy outlet they can look forward to during times of stress!
Mind, Body & Spirit Fitness: Explore the mind, body and spirit benefits of fitness activities that focus on the individual's growth and development. These types of activities might include martial arts, taekwondo, yoga, pilates, and creative dance. This style of exercise can easily be tailored to your current fitness level and abilities, which means you will work at your own pace while fostering safe and effective progression. Centered around mind and body awareness, mindful fitness activities support a healthy balance of balance, coordination and flexibility while improving overall strength and endurance.
Movin' and a Groovin': are you drawn to activities that get your heart pumping and keep you moving? From dance to high intensity interval training to jogging, biking, swimming and rowing, there are a variety of ways you can get your move on. The freedom of movement can be a powerfully wonderful thing that adds an element of fun to fitness. This type of exercise is not only good for heart health, but also great for supporting balance, coordination and flexibility. When you dance it out you have fun while sweating it out. In high intensity interval exercise training you can accomplish a whole workout in half the time, all while pushing your cardio to it's limits... which kinda makes you feel like a bad_ _ _! When it comes to jogging, biking, swimming or rowing, you can choose to go it solo or add others to the mix by joining a local club, recruiting friends or family members that share the same interest or even sign up for an upcoming competition to keep you moving forward toward a goal.
Strength Training: from body weight exercises to exertnal weight loads and devices, there are a variety of ways you can incorporate strength training into you fitness routine. Aside from helping you feel strong from the inside out, adding strength training to your weekly fitness routine can deliver a whole host of benefits, such as supporting bone health and muscle mass, improving body mechanics, helping to maintain a healthy waistline, boosting energy, increasing caloric burn and more! And no you don't have to have a gym membership to begin. And you don't have to have fancy equipment to make it happen! Bodyweight exercises are a great place to start, then try incorporating common items found in your own home - stairs, step stools, chairs, tables and/or countertops, etc. If you find you are in love with this type of fitness then there are a few budget friendly and easy to store fitness pieces you can begin to have on hand, such as a yoga mat, set of resistance bands, a medicine ball or a set of dumbbells or a couple of kettlebells of average weight (5, 10, and/or 15 lbs).
Bottom line - the best kind of fitness activity is the one you want to do and will keep coming back to! Studies show when people enjoy a physical activity, not only do they look forward to doing it, they continue to engage in it repeatedly over long periods of time. Now that is what I can creating (and supporting) a healthy lifestyle!