l i g h t p o e t / Shutterstock
We all know we should be physically active on a regular basis. Moderate to vigorous physical activity has numerous health benefits. In addition to helping control your weight and decreasing your risk of cardiovascular diseases, it also improves your mood and general quality of life. However, going to the gym can be expensive or difficult to fit into your schedule, and let’s face it—a lot of exercises are repetitive, tedious and boring. Luckily, there are some activities that give you the same health benefits as those workout routines you abhor, but are so fun you won’t even realize you’re actually exercising.
5 Getting Creative
It may seem counter-intuitive, but engaging in artistic pursuits benefits your health. While participating actively obviously results in a greater overall benefit than passively viewing others, both can lead to lower levels of stress and enjoyment and an overall satisfaction with life. Nurturing your creative side by painting a mural or writing a poem may not give you bulging biceps or the toned legs of a dancer, but it does improve your health holistically by decreasing anxiety.
Shaking your groove has plenty of health benefits, but you’ll never even realize you’re getting a workout. In addition to a full-body aerobic workout that burns fat and builds muscle, dancing also strengthens your bones and builds stamina and endurance. Particular types of dancing also mean you’re moving your body in ways you wouldn’t with other types of exercise—like ballroom dancing, for instance, which requires a lot of backwards movement. Learning specific steps improves your memory and cognitive function, but it’s not necessary to take classes or learn particular dances to reap the benefits—just crank up your favorite music and rock out for a half hour.
Ice skating, rollerblading and roller skating are fun alternatives to jogging or running, which even if pursued as recreation, can burn from 250 to 810 calories an hour. If you want to ice skate, you’ll need a rink nearby, but if you’re lucky enough to find one, you may find it’s cheaper than joining a health club. You don’t need a roller rink to go roller skating though—as long as you have a pair of skates, you can skate down sidewalks and in most public parks. Roller skating works all of your body’s major muscle groups and is even recommended by the American Heart Association for aerobic fitness.
2 Video Gaming
Motion-controlled games on platforms like Wii, Xbox 360 Kinect and PlayStation Move offer ways to be physically active in your living room with games that can be so much fun you don’t even realize you’re exercising—but you are. The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine published a study that concluded playing these games expends at least as much energy as walking on a treadmill at three miles per hour. Walking on a treadmill is boring, but playing video games is not. Video games can also improve your hand-eye coordination and your multitasking skills, which could benefit you in the workplace.
Seriously – not only is sex a decent cardiovascular workout that burns close to 100 calories in a half hour, but having sex once or twice a week also improves your overall health. A Wilkes University study found students who had sex at least that often showed higher levels of an antibody that protects from colds and other infections. For men, regular sexual activity can lower the risk of developing prostate cancer later in life. Overall, it lowers your stress levels and blood pressure, and can even improve your self-esteem.