The gym’s too crowded; It’s too cold outside for a run; I forgot my iPod (or even a hair tie). There are endless excuses to avoid workouts, but they all stem from the same issue. With these kinds of excuses, it’s clear that a workout isn’t engaging or fun. If you really want to prioritize fitness, it’s important to find a means of staying fit that doesn’t feel like a “work”out.
Strength training, flexibility training, cardio and balance are all vital to a holistic approach to wellness. However, these can all be achieved without ever entering a gym if that’s not your scene. Get creative, and remember that anything challenging can be considered a workout to varying degrees. You can also modify activities of daily living (ADL) to make seemingly simple tasks, like walking or cycling instead of commuting to work, more of a challenge via a faster pace.
Here are just a few ways to embrace fitness year-round that won’t feel like work at all:
- Take a dog for a walk. Maybe it’s your dog, a friend’s, you volunteer at a shelter, or dive headfirst into the gig economy as a dog walker. Different breeds have different needs, and if you’re new to walking for fitness, you can start out with a more laidback pooch and later advance to a breed such as a young huskie. It’s just a bonus if you gather some karma points or make some extra cash!
- Volunteer to shovel your neighbor’s snow. If you live in an area where there’s snowfall, keep in mind that homeowners are usually required by law to shovel the sidewalk in front of their homes. If you don’t, you’re liable if someone gets hurt. Shoveling snow is a fantastic workout that utilizes a different kind of strength training than you would normally get in ADL. Double down and volunteer to shovel for your neighbors (just ask for coffee instead of hot chocolate as a thank you).
- Improve your landscaping. Is gardening really a workout? It can be; it just depends on the activity and intensity. For example, spending a few hours laying down bark dust will burn calories and likely include some strength training, but five minutes deadheading a blueberry bush won’t do much for you. Choose challenging gardening and landscaping tasks, and keep in mind that gardening is also linked to some great mental and spiritual perks, too.
- Challenge yourself to alternative commutes more days per week. Maybe you work too far away to walk or cycle, but you can certainly do one or the other to a public transportation stop that’s farther away. Walking at a fast clip and cycling are both great workouts, and with the right gear, you can indulge in them year-round. Not only will you increase your fitness, but you’ll also lighten your carbon footprint and help the environment.
- Take up horseback riding. It doesn’t feel like a workout, but horseback riding requires tremendous strength, balance and agility. If you’re new to the sport, it’s never too late to get started, and if you’re returning after years of no riding, get ready to fall back in love all over again. Check with local equestrian clubs and stables to find out about lessons or even horse rentals. Like gardening, there are also extra benefits beyond physical to this particular fitness approach.
- Go to the playground. There are a number of options at playgrounds whether you’re with little ones or solo. Surprisingly, swings offer an amazing workout and you can always squeeze in a few minutes by yourself. For most adults, it’s been awhile since you soared skyward, and it’s a great way to take in some extra fresh air.
There are opportunities to get fitter all around you. It just takes looking at your workout with a fresh lens and some experimentation to find what you love.