For people making healthy new lifestyle changes, including getting more rest, ample hydration on a daily basis and eating a balanced diet, the missing link to weight loss or healthy weight management is often exercise. Somehow, making the time and effort to get to a gym doesn’t work with busy schedules, and that’s why so many people with gym memberships, simply never use them.
We all know that weight loss requires a balance of both healthy daily dietary choices and exercise. What is the secret to making fitness happen daily? It’s really about finding exercises and opportunities to stay active that appeal to you. So, if checking into the gym for a 45 minute grind on the treadmill is not your flavor, consider other creative and fun ways that you can get your 30 minute to one hour fitness time every day.
1. YouTube Yoga
Curious about yoga, but don’t think you are ‘Zen’ enough to join a local class? It can be intimidating for beginners when you see some of the impressive poses and positions that long-time yoga practitioners can manage. After the ‘sun salute’ and the ‘downward dog’, it’s all uphill to challenges that improve flexibility, muscle strength and balance.
If you are shy about taking a class, consider that you can do your own self-guided yoga in the comfort of your own home. All you need is some loose and comfortable fitting clothing, a yoga mat and a television. There are tens of thousands of fun, beginner yoga videos on YouTube that are free to access. Find the ones you like, add them to a favorites list on your personal YouTube channel, and enjoy 30 minutes to one-hour of yoga daily at home.
One of the fun things about self-guided digital yoga, is that you can do it anywhere with Wi-Fi access. Pack your smartphone or your tablet, and head to your favorite lake or park. Find a quiet public dock, and roll out the mat for a meditative fitness session that relieves stress and burns calories.
Calories burned: 178 per hour.
2. Half-Marathon Training
We all feel the same way, when we’re passed on the road or sidewalk by someone who is running. It’s a mixed feeling of wishing we could put in the same miles or kilometers that they do daily. But the best amateur runners will tell you that it is a slow build of endurance and strength.
Becoming a marathon runner doesn’t happen overnight. It can take months or years of training to be able to participate in a full marathon event. But there are other benchmarks that are very achievable, thanks to new mobile health apps that can train and track progress as a novice runner. Check out “Couch to 5K” a popular iOS app that is specifically designed for beginners. Not only does the app promise to coach runners to a 5k in under ten weeks, but it also allows individuals to share their progress and receive encouragement on social media, from family and friends.
Calories burned: 398 per hour.
3. Schedule a Massage
Can something relaxing offer a health and weight loss advantage? While not many calories are burned, there are several other benefits that can help you relax, lose or maintain weight, thanks to the physiological and psychological impact of therapeutic massage; there is a reason why athletes get them on a regular basis.
Therapeutic massage relieves stress and helps release lactic acid build-up in the muscles. In addition, the manipulation of the muscles increases strength, flexibility and range of motion, helping protect against muscle strain and injuries. Find a therapist that also uses essential oils for aromatherapy for additional benefits, including treatment of low mood, depression or insomnia (lavender oil), or muscle ache and inflammation (peppermint oil).
Calories burned: 67 per hour.
4. Grab a Deck of Cards
You can ‘suit up’ for fitness daily using only a deck of cards. If you are the type of person that gets bored easily with the same workout routine, randomize your daily fitness. Create a legend for your deck of cards:
Diamonds are push-ups
Hearts are sit-up exercises or crunches
Spades are lunges
Clubs are free or hand weight exercises
Every day, take a deck of cards and draw 3-6 cards. The number of the card will represent how many of the specific repetition you will need to do, i.e., a 10 of spades results in ten lunges. Let the cards choose your daily after-work fitness checklist to keep it random, and interesting.
Calories burned: 200-300 per hour.
We know this option is probably the least exciting fitness opportunity we’ve discussed, but did you know that most housework activities burn between 160-250 calories per hour? Vacuuming burns 37 calories every ten minutes, while ironing clothing burns 50 calories every ten minutes. Sweeping, making the beds, mopping and dishwashing (including loading and unloading) can burn an impressive number of calories. There is also that “feel good” benefit, when you know that the household chores are done.
Calories burned: 160-250 per hour.
6. Walking the Dog
When you walk, or exercise in general, your body releases endorphins that make you feel happier. Add to that a nice, sunny day, lots of trees and the happy wagging of your dog (he loves to walk, too) and you have a great way to stay fit daily.
If you love animals and volunteering but do not own a dog, there are other ways to get in some time weekly with your local animal shelter or rescue. Organizations are constantly looking for people to run, walk and play with pets that will be adopted. You will be helping train healthy social behaviors to a dog that deserves a second chance, while getting in some fun cardiovascular walking or running. Talk to your community pet shelter for opportunities.
Calories burned: 205 per hour.
7. Gardening at Home
Whether you have a passion for growing your own vegetables and fruit or for cultivating a beautiful perennial floral garden, working outside planting and weeding offers some valuable ‘free’ exercise opportunities.
Not only is there a healthy fitness benefit to sitting, standing, walking, lifting and bending while you are gardening, but some studies have shown that getting your hands dirty in the soil offers a tremendous psychological and mood benefit. Consider it a calming, elemental break from screen time and internet use, and get connected to nature while burning calories and building flexibility and balance.
Calories burned: 350 per hour.
8. Break Out the Xbox
Normally we would say that video games are counterintuitive to fitness, as most games encourage sedentary seating positioning. But consoles like Xbox also offer fun new ways to exercise at home, while playing games or using some of the fitness apps available.
Xbox Kinect allows you to use games like Dance Revolution, where you can compete against the game, or another friend or family member, and learn choreographed professional moves. Other fun games that give you a workout include “Fruit Ninja” and “Zumba Fitness World Party” which will keep you, or the entire family laughing and moving.
Calories burned: 400-600 per hour.
9. Plank It Up!
Who said that watching your favorite television show had to be a sedentary activity? Planking is low impact exercise that can be done on a yoga mat, rug or other non-slip surface, but it can add up to big fitness results when done for an hour a day.
While not a high-fat burning exercise, planks target the abdominal muscles, oblique’s, hips, pectorals and select muscle groups within the legs. Planking is known to improve core body strength, flexibility and posture, but the best part? They can be done anywhere, including on a lunch break at the office, a hotel room while traveling for business or outside. Get some tips on positioning or try this fun 30-day plank challenge on YouTube.
Calories burned: 221 per hour.
10. Cross Fitness
Have you ever looked at some of the equipment in a cross fitness class and thought “I could set this up in my own backyard”? While a little investment is required, many of the circuits that cross fitness trainers use can be set up at home, helping you develop a routine that promotes cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and endurance.
Beginners will need:
2 x twenty-foot length of hemp (heavy 2-4-inch gauge) rope
A large old rubber tire (without rim)
A sledge hammer
A medicine ball
Speed rope (jump rope)
Resistance bands (elastic workout restraints)
2-4 kettlebells of varying weights
Free weights and/or bumper sets
Floor mats (if using equipment inside)
Turn a corner in the garage or the backyard into your own personal outdoor cross fit station. The basic equipment can usually be found affordably at thrift shops, or classified pages like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Shop gently used equipment first, to save a bundle.
Calories burned: 300-500 per hour.
You don’t have to have an expensive gym membership to create a fitness program that works for you. Simply get creative daily to hit your minimum targeted activity levels, track and share your progress with family and friends who support your health goals, and keep moving!