My dad loves running. He runs several half-marathons a year and pushes himself as hard as he can each time. I’m proud of the example that he’s set, but though I’ve tried before, I just don’t enjoy running like he does. I like it, once I get into running shape, but it usually gets old for me after a while. I’m simply not committed to running 30-50 miles a week like he is. I prefer lifting weights, walking and doing other aerobic exercises at home.
If that sounds like you, or if neither of those options sounds like you, let’s talk about some ideas to burn calories in nontraditional ways.
If you’re really serious about getting in shape, the key is to keep trying until you find something you can enjoy doing several days a week. For instance, have you tried jump roping, rollerblading, using resistance bands, running stairs, biking around downtown or the park, playing tennis or recreation league soccer, hiking, swimming, kayaking, or dancing? The list goes on and on. The point is that there are tons of ways to get in shape. Stop making excuses and keep trying to find the right one for you!
Here are some ways to customize your perfect workout.
When my wife and I visited friends last weekend, we planned on going out and enjoying a nice day. Well, we did that, but then we found out we’d be doing a little more than walking around. We were going to try slacklining. We didn’t know quite what it was, and although it was fun, we quickly learned that it’s also a workout. It’s like walking a tightrope a few feet off the ground.
All you need is slackline equipment, a couple of trees (or other solid anchor points) for support and a helping hand beside you to keep you from falling. As you improve, you should be able to do it on your own. It’s a lot of fun. Yes, it can be precarious, and yes, it will work out your core like crazy. Once you get the hang of it, it’s worth the effort. The key is to get creative. Think of your own new ways to get a workout next time you’re out.
So you want your workouts to be intense and have a long-lasting impact on your health and metabolism? Maybe high-intensity interval training is for you. Now, these aren’t workouts you should start trying when you’re out of shape. They’re great for you, but with CrossFit, for example, you can easily end up in the doctor’s office if you’re not careful. They are basically short, intense workouts that push your body to its limit with a minimum amount of rest between sets. For example, you could do 30 seconds of fast jogging/sprinting (depending on your aerobic capacity), followed by 15 seconds of rest, four times and be done. The key is pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.
Yardwork sometimes gets put off a little too long because something better just keeps coming up. Whether that something is necessary is another story, but let’s be honest, a little more work on the lawn wouldn’t hurt, would it? Increasing the amount of time spent doing yardwork will make your significant other happy and get you more exercise, as well.
These numbers are all rough estimates for a person weighing 150 pounds, but still, an hour of mowing the lawn could burn 300 calories. Raking the leaves this fall could burn over 200 calories an hour. Gardening, weeding, trimming and so on are other opportunities to get yourself in shape. You can’t always find a new project every day, but I know cutting the grass twice as often is doable for most people.
Vacuuming can burn 150 or more calories an hour. Even putting away groceries, organizing the pantry, doing laundry or putting away clothes can burn close to that if you do it long enough. They’re not glamorous activities, but plenty of our daily tasks aren’t a ton of fun. We do them anyway. The key is to do more of them, stay on our feet and keep burning calories without rewarding ourselves with food afterward. Yes, it’s a great idea to be more productive, but don’t ruin your hard work with a needless snack.
Walk and talk
We should all make a habit of talking on the go more often. It worked for Steve Jobs, Aristotle and Sigmund Freud, so why can’t it work for you? Take every opportunity you can to be mobile when it’s an option. Sometimes, you have to sit at your desk or talk without taking a stroll, but plenty of times, we sit when we don’t have to. Instead of having coffee with someone at a table, take it with you as you walk around downtown or the mall. If you’re the boss, decide what meetings could be held walking outside or around the office. Yeah, it’s unconventional, but should we ignore good ideas simply because most people don’t bother doing them?
Don’t forget …
You can get in shape without hating every moment of it. The excuses we make every day amount to us trying to feel better about ourselves for being lazy. Eat better, get on your feet, and find something to do outside. One day, you’ll be glad you did.
Jay McKenzie loves soccer, history and feeling great. He’s on a quest to eat better and exercise more, and he wants to share his experiences along the way. You can email him at [email protected] with comments or questions. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.