I’m not much of a gym person. Before I had kids, I tried to be. There was a really nice gym across the plaza from where I worked. I signed up. I figured it was something I could do at lunch or right after work. I even tried a few sessions with a trainer, but it just wasn’t for me.
I started going a few times a week, then once a week, then every other week. And well, you get the picture. I still got my exercise in other ways. I played on my company softball team, basketball team, and other outdoorsy stuff when I could. I just couldn’t get used to the idea of going to the gym. I don’t know if it was the machines or what, but it just wasn’t for me. I started looking for other alternatives.
Looking for a great way to move your body? Dancing is a fun way to get your body moving – no matter your age or ability level. All you need is your idea of good music and space to move. From finger dancing in the car to a dance party in your living room, dancing enables you to move and express yourself.
Here are some amazing benefits of dancing that will inspire you to get moving:
- Dancing increases your heart rate, which is great for cardiovascular health
- Dancing causes serotonin levels to increase (nature’s mood stabilizers)
- Dancing is aerobic and can burn calories while you’re having fun
- Dancing builds muscle and fine motor skills, improving agility and stamina
- Dancing is a form of expression that transcends differences and creates common ground in groups
- Dancing is a great escape from stress or anxiety and can help revive the spirit
- Dancing is a form of worship and restoration of the soul
Dancing comes in many styles and is a true form of expression. From formalized dancing to freestyle, unbridled movement, dancing can be experienced by anyone anywhere. It is universally understood and undeniably a way to unite all ages, genders, and affiliations.
There is no wrong way to dance. Your preference might be taking classes or participating in a group setting. You may love dancing alone or in the club. Your favorite way to dance might be with your kids, like me. There is no limit to where, when, and how you can dance.
Some possible dance options are:
- Taking Zumba or U-Jam Fitness classes
- Community College courses in dance
- Organized dance troops for tap, jazz, modern dance, or others
- Watching dance videos
- Dancing at a concert
- Creating a playlist for at-home dance parties
- Playing dance-based video games
The options truly are limitless, and there is no way you can go wrong. Here are some ideas to get you excited about creating a personalized dance plan:
- Create a playlist of your favorite songs. Consider multiple lists for different moods or occasions. Choose your list based on what feels right in the moment and dance away.
- Join a group that meets regularly. Build new relationships and social experiences through dance.
- Watch street performers dance for entertainment and be inspired by their passion.
- Attend a ballet or dance competition and expand your exposure to multiple dance genres.
Being a dancer requires no skill, nearly zero financial investment, and can only bring you positive outcomes. No matter what you sort of music you love, your body can benefit from moving with the beat – so turn up the music and start dancing!
Revive Childhood Favorite Ways to Exercise
Were you an active kiddo? Chances are, you came from the generation that was told to “go play outside” on the regular. Some kids weren’t even expected home until the street lights came on (or in my case, when the sun was setting over the library). Those days may be long gone, but your memories are right there when you call them forth. What was your favorite form of play? Dodgeball? Tag? Riding your bike? Skateboarding?
When I was little, we lived in a huge apartment building. No matter what time I went outside, my brother and I always had someone to play with. We’d have huge games of tag or hide and seek. It was amazing.
Just because you are a grown-up doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the activities you loved as a kid. There isn’t any activity that is off limits, and engaging in childhood favorite activities can be more than nostalgic. It can actually improve your health – both physical and mental. Calling forth great memories and engaging in activities that have special meaning can cure fatigue and burnout. Unfortunately, I don’t have dozens of adults I can call to all go outside and play together.
It’s fairly common for some organized activities to be available as an adult. Softball leagues, bowling teams, and pickup basketball all come to mind. My local activity center even has a Pickleball league. I’m not exactly sure what that is, but it sounds like fun. What about other activities from days gone by? There are some old favorites that are making a comeback in organized activities:
Professional tag is seriously a thing. World Chase Tag is an organized group that competes in arenas in obstacle course settings and is making an old favorite new again.
Parkour and free running
Parkour is the art of using obstacles to move over, under, across, and through. Free running is included in parkour, but it adds elements of twisting, flipping, and turning along the way. Until recently, I didn’t even know parkour was a real thing. I just thought that was something the kids did when they were playing Minecraft.
Martial arts tricking
“Tricking” is using elements of martial arts in open spaces to flip, kick, jump, and tumble. As a child, you may have participated in martial arts and maybe even earned a belt or two. Tricking is a modern way to play at martial arts.
Roller skating takes on a new meaning when combined with tough attitudes and crazy monikers. Roller derby clubs are available for men and women and can be fiercely competitive.
No matter what activity you enjoyed as a kid, you can easily pick it back up as an adult and regain the sense of freedom and fitness you once had. Spend some time thinking about the ways you enjoyed play as a kid and try some of the activities out. A quick Google search will tell you if there is an organized version of your favorite activity near you. If not, consider starting one yourself and see who shares your enthusiasm.
If you find something fun, please let me know. I’m always up for a new adventure!
Join a Team or a Group
Some people thrive in teams. They love the camaraderie and competition. They feed off the energy and synergy of others, and enjoy relying on a group for a common outcome. For these type of people, organized teams or groups are a winning option. Being part of a team is rewarding, inspiring, and motivating. When I first started working after college, I always joined whatever sports team that was in season. I made a lot of friends and had a ton of fun. Some of my closest friends were those I met while playing on those sports teams.
Is there a time you were part of a team?
Play sports as a kid?
Participate in scout troops?
Attend college as an athlete?
Serve in the military?
Represent a professional sport?
Getting active may simply be a sign-up away when you find a team or group that piques your interest.
Looking for a team and don’t know where to find them?
Try these ideas:
- Community colleges
- City Park and Recreations
- Work-based intramural and weekend teams
- Church leagues
- Facebook groups
- Gym-based leagues and groups
There are many ways to connect with like-minded men and women who want to be a part of a team and compete or simply engage in an activity. The bigger the area you live in the higher the chances are you’ll make a connection.
Some of the most common and not-so-common groups are:
- Softball teams
- Road biking groups
- Soccer teams
- Running groups
- Basketball leagues
- Strong man competitors (yeah, it’s a thing)
Thinking sports aren’t for you? Consider these alternatives to team sports:
- Hiking groups
- Bird watching groups
- Kayaking groups
- Ski clubs
- Fishing clubs
- Walking groups
These activities still create a bond and get your body moving. You don’t have to be all guts and glory to be part of a team. Finding an activity you love and a tribe to do it with is a wonderful thing. If the activity you love doesn’t have a formalized group, it might be your calling to step up and create the opportunity to bring people together.
- Being a coach
- Hosting a group
- Launching a league
- Organizing a community event
- Raising awareness
Your passion may become the next big wave of activity that storms the internet and gets people moving their bodies and getting healthier. Whether you love to be hard-core and down and dirty with competition, or you simply enjoy the teamwork of a group, you can engage in a team and have a great time. You can lose weight, gain a community, and find new ways to connect and feel part of something bigger than yourself.
Have Fun in the Water
I was not a water person before I became a parent. Now oddly enough, I love to do things on the water (cruises) or near the water (I love the beach). But, I have never really liked to get in the water.
My children on the other hand are water babies. I think if they could grow gills and live in the water all the time, they would. So, I’ve had to spend a lot of time figuring out what kind of water activity options are out there. What I’ve come to find out is that there’s a lot of different options, with a little something for everyone.
Water sports and activities are wonderful ways to get exercise and increase mobility. Water is helpful for people who have ambulation issues or may be unable to engage in vigorous activities due to chronic pain or injury. Water can be a safe place to move and exercise when other options aren’t available.
Because we are buoyant in water, people who have difficulty walking, running, or bearing weight can find relief and ease the pressure on their bodies while they rehabilitate themselves. People who have difficulty exercising in normal situations may have an easier time in the water because they stay cooler and feel less pain when they move. Though they are still burning calories and engaging in aerobic activity, it is easier on their bodies than traditional exercise.
Water is also a form of recreation and relaxation. From boating (cruising is still my favorite vacation of all time) to swimming for pleasure, water is a place to have fun. Depending on where you live, water may be the chief recreation resource. From lakes to rivers to ponds to pools, water calls out to be enjoyed. Some common ways to have fun in nature are:
- Water skiing or wakeboarding
- Snorkeling or scuba diving
- Rafting and kayaking
- Personal watercraft
You don’t need a natural water source to enjoy the benefits of water. Your local gym or parks and recreation service may offer pools for enjoying activities. Many pools offer activities like these:
- Youth swim teams
- Water aerobics
- Open community swim
- Water rehabilitation services
- Water polo leagues
- Diving teams
- Synchronized swimming
- Water yoga
Water recreation is big business. Your community may have some of these options nearby:
- Water parks
- Lazy lagoon features
- Water slides
- Mock oceans
- Wave machines
- Cable driven wakeboard parks
Water is not just for humans. Dogs and other pets thoroughly enjoy the water as well. From fetching floating sticks and toys to surfing, pets can find a common interest and experience water fun right along with their owners. The local dog park may boast water features. Or you might take your dog swimming at the lake. It would be fun to see if your pet has an interest in enjoying the water too.
No matter what water sport or activity you love, there is an option for you. From swimming in your backyard pool to joining a diving team, you can find joy and have fun in the water. If you are recovering from an injury or managing a chronic issue, you can find relief in the water as well. Simply find an activity that meets your needs, and enjoy!
Get Outside to Hike, Bike, & Explore
Being outdoors is one of the most affordable ways to get exercise and explore. From hiking to biking – being on the move builds muscle, engages the brain, and creates memories. Your idea of exploring and hiking may be the pathway that winds through your neighborhood, or it may be the uncharted landscape in a remote mountain area. Either way, adventure awaits.
Before you begin your hiking career, it’s best to start with some important tips that will help you get ready and be safe.
Before you hike a trail or mountain. Before you set off on your bike. Before you head out to explore. Do some research. Become familiar with any important aspects of your journey that need to be considered. Be sure you are making a wise and safe decision for the skill level and experience that you have.
Get the right gear
In the beginning, the right gear may be simple footwear and a bottle of water. As your hiking skills and interests increase, it will be important to invest in the best gear for your needs. Do the proper research and make certain you have what you need to reduce injury and increase your satisfaction with your outdoor adventures.
Make a plan and stick to it
As you get better and bolder with your skills, make certain someone always knows your plan. Leave a detailed map or itinerary with someone who can step in should you become lost, injured, or unable to help yourself.
Be prepared and take lots of extra
From water and food to Band-Aids and an epi-pen. Being prepared is an important part of outdoor activities. Plan for the unexpected as best as you can. It’s always better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it.
If you are tackling a new hike or bike ride, practice as you lead up to the big event. Taking smaller hikes or shorter rides will give you clues to what you need to know for bigger and more difficult events.
Use the buddy system
Any time you venture into the great outdoors, it is vital that someone knows where you are and what you are doing. If possible, always travel with someone else.
Make hiking, biking, and exploring part of your life. Spend time in the evenings taking short walks, bike rides, or adventuring. Foster the love of discovery with your kids and others who will be participating with you. Make the activities fun and build up the anticipation for the next big adventure.
Hiking, biking, and exploring are wondrous ways to get to know where you live or expand your options when you travel. Normalizing the explorer’s spirit will make life a continuous adventure and the options to explore limitless.