What are options for physical activity that is not “working out?”

What are options for physical activity that is not "working out?"
The importance of getting regular exercise is so well known that there is little reason to rehash all of its benefits. Likewise, most people are aware of the physical activity recommendations for overall cardiovascular health promoted by the American Heart Association (AHA) that encourages healthy adults to do:

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150
OR
  • At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
AND
  • Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.

Nevertheless, there are many people who will not reach these goals because they simply loathe exercising. Today’s Health Tip is particularly intended for those people who would like
to exercise, but find that the traditional methods (going to the gym, running on the track, swimming laps, etc.) are unacceptable. These people should be aware that some activity is better than no activity.  Some of the suggestions offered below may not meet the AHA guidelines, but could help someone to get their “feet wet” in regard to starting an exercise program.

  1. Combine a hobby with exercise.  Outdoor photography typically involves walking while you scout out those “Kodak moments”.  Parks, open spaces, zoos are great places to capture images with your camera. To keep things interesting, plot several walking routes and alternate them each day.  Another option is to consider geocaching. Geocaching, known as the “worldwide scavenger hunt&”, requires use of a GPS as you to travel (hopefully by foot) from cache to cache.
  2. Exercise while doing another routine activity.  How much time do most people spend reading the newspaper each day?  How about combining reading the paper with exercising on a stationary bicycle?  Treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stair climbers can also be fitted with a rack for holding the paper or a book.
  3. Join an exercise class. There’s nothing like peer pressure to encourage exercise.  Classes are great for people who like to exercise with others, who like music and rhythm, or who want the extra motivation and energy that an instructor and class provide.  A number of activities lend themselves well to the group format, such a Zumba, water aerobics, Pilates and yoga.
  4. Dance your way to fitness.  Jazzercise is one of the best known dance-oriented methods of exercising. If this seems too much like traditional exercise, consider taking a dance class instead.  Swing, salsa, or even waltz can be a great way of exercising without seeming like exercise. Additionally, if there is a significant other that needs to “shake their booty”, you may be able to get them moving also.
  5. Take a walk in the woods or park.  In addition to being an excellent form of exercise, there is no better stress reducer than walking. Ideally, you would walk a fairly brisk pace to get your heart rate up, but if that seems too strenuous, just start with strolling along and see if your pace doesn’t pick up over time.  If necessary add music or conversation with a friend to enhance your experience.
  6. For computer game junkies, combine your passion with exercise.  A number of exercise-oriented video games, dubbed “exergames”, are now available. Eye Toy Kinetic from PlayStation 2 uses a small camera that allows you to view yourself while participating in a number of fitness games. In addition to cardio and strength activities, Wii Fit Plus offers a variety of mini-games that challenge your balance, stability and coordination.
  7. Use competition as a motivator.  Playing tennis, basketball, or racquet ball either on a team or in “pick-up” games may wet your competitive juices and maintain your interest in exercising.
  8. Trick yourself into exercising. Activities such as yoga or Pilates, which emphasize proper breathing and stretching, can also provide cardiovascular and strength benefits. Some types of yoga cycle quickly through poses resulting in an increased heart rate with aerobic benefit. Others require tremendous strength and concentration. One of the main benefits of Pilates is to strengthen the core muscles of the lower back and abdomen, and is particularly helpful for people with chronic back pain. But Pilates, particularly when participating in a “mat class”, can also raise the heart rate, providing cardiovascular benefits.
  9. Walk the dog.  Most dogs like (and need) to walk regularly. Let your dog provide the motivation to get you exercising.  That way, both of you will get a good workout.

You don’t have to be a marathoner or spend hours in the gym to reap the benefits of exercise. You just need to figure out some way of getting your body moving each day. Once you start, you’re likely to find that you want to do more and more challenging workouts.  Someday you may even discover that you actually enjoy exercising!

Sources for article:
Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults from the American Heart Association

If you have any more questions just Ask Hanna, our health advisors are here to help.
Image: ©Shutterstock / Tyler Olson

Share this:

DISCLAIMER: The information and opinions expressed in the programs on this channel and website are intended to address specific questions asked or situations described in each particular program, are for educational purposes only, and are not designed to constitute advice or recommendations as to any disease, ailment, or physical condition. You should not act or rely upon any information contained in these programs without seeking the advice of your personal physician or a qualified medical provider. If you have any questions about the information or opinions expressed, please contact your doctor or other medical professional.