Make no mistake. The food you eat is responsible for over 80% of your success when it comes to losing weight and getting healthier. If I can tell you only one simple thing to change, your eating habit would handily win over exercise. Any day.
While I’ve made efforts with abdominal crunches and Pilates core workouts to reduce that belly bulge I’ve had most of my adult life, even prior to my twin pregnancy, these efforts barely made a dent on my waistline. It wasn’t until after I started changing what I eat and also what I drink in my green smoothies that I was able to melt off 9 inches of my post pregnancy belly fat effortlessly, without spending the time and effort on abdominal exercises!
That being said, exercising on a consistent basis is still crucial to your long-term physical, emotional well-being and to maintain your healthy weight. Exercise can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. It can stimulate various brain chemicals to improve your mood and reduce stress. You can experience more energy and better sleep at night. I think you know the list of benefits can go on and on, but the key question here is, how can you fit exercise into your super busy and demanding modern life?
10 Fun Exercises Without The Gym
Here are ten practical, fun exercises that you can do without going to the gym:
Walking - City dwellers around the world are healthier than their suburban counterparts simply by moving on their feet more. People living in communities with easy access to sidewalks are also less likely to be overweight than those living in low-walkable areas.
So what if you live in the suburbs and your typical walk consists of a handful of steps going to and from the car? You could try to park your car further away from your intended destination and squeeze in your walk that way.
As a city dweller, I sometimes get off the subway a few stops early so that I can fit in my walk for the day. The act of walking provides mental clarity. After learning that Steve Jobs was known for his walking meetings, I started to walk whenever I feel stuck on a problem, and found that fresh perspectives and creativity flowed more easily.
Walking the dog also counts! If you don’t have one, you can volunteer to walk one at your local pet shelter.
Stair climbing - instead of taking the elevator, take to the stairwell for a great cardio workout. Look around you for opportunities both indoors and outdoors. I live in a hilly part of NYC and have access to spectacular outdoor “Stairmaster”. Alternatively, you can climb the hill instead and ramp up that intensity by pushing your toddlers in a stroller or carrying groceries.
Biking – instead of driving or taking public transportation, how about biking to work or to visit friends? Many cities now have designated bicycle lanes and bicycle sharing systems that allow you pick up a bike from one location and drop it off near your destination. It’s great way to get around traffic jams. You are also reducing your carbon footprint, saving money on gas or fare, and getting a workout - a triple win!
Playing with your kids - I now have a newfound respect for mothers after realizing the physical strength and stamina required from all the lifting and carrying of my little ones! Teaching your young toddlers how to walk, run, jump and dance is a fun filled activity that gets you all moving with joy and laughter. Bonus points for lifting and flying them through the air! These are my most treasured at home workouts these days.
Play video games that force you to be active – Ever tried Dance Dance Revolution (DDR)? A session at the arcade can really get your heart pumping. I invested in a Wii DDR mat at home after reading about a teenage girl having lost over 25 pounds just by playing DDR. After all, it was a one-time purchase that was cheaper than most gym memberships where I live. The Wii itself also comes with high-intensity sports such as boxing and tennis. All these activities turned out to be a great way to entertain guests too. Can’t wait for my toddlers to learn to enjoy these home sports as it’s a fun way get off the couch to pass the time when it’s too cold to play outside.
Use a standing desk - While standing is nothing like working out at a gym, it still burns more calories than sitting. Standing desks are becoming quite the trend at the workplace these days. Sitting too much is associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a higher risk of early death. So why not boost your productivity, increase your mood and energy level, and strengthen those legs with a standing desk?
I was actually introduced to the standing desk by way of an adjustable vented laptop table that I used as a portable bed tray while working at home during my pregnancy, as I was finding it difficult to sit for prolonged periods of time into my second trimester. It now serves double duty as a standing desk when propped up on a desk, and as a bed tray when I just want to relax and read in bed at the end of the day.
Cleaning - Doing chores around the house requires you to move around and burn more energy than being sedentary. Cleaning activities such as scrubbing the floor or bathroom tub, vacuuming, and even taking out the trash can burn over 165 calories per hour!
Gardening - The fresh air, the focus on tending your garden, being unchained from your desk and knee deep in the earth’s nurturing soil… gardening helps you connect with the earth, your mind, body, and spirit, and reduces stress. All that digging into the dirt, pulling the weeds and planting new seeds can provide a full body workout to burn loads of calories.
Dancing – You’ve probably noticed the sweat and the rapid breathing at the end of dance routines on Dancing with the Stars. You can swing and tango at home with your partner, join your young ones at their dance programs, or sign up for all kinds of dance classes to get your heart really pumping.
Hiking - Hiking is a great cardio workout while allowing you to absorb vitamin D and fresh air in the great outdoors. Grab some friends, lace up your hiking boots, and head out towards mother nature! The grand scenery and feeling of accomplishment after your hike are far better than an afternoon at the gym.
Staying active and fit is easier than you think. Even if you are not already doing the exercises listed above, you now have the knowledge and awareness to make small, simple changes each day toward a healthier and fitter you!
Chances are high though that you are already doing one or more of these exercises without even realizing it, so take heart - your 2017 health and fitness journey is already off to a great start!
Sharing is caring! What other ways do you try to fit easy and fun exercises into your busy day?
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