So, you don’t love going to the gym.

Do you know anyone who really loves going to the gym? I know, me too!  They have a full wardrobe of workout attire. They are at the 5:45 a.m. spinning class. They use the gyms in hotels when they travel. I am not one of those people. Sure, I have been to the gym. More than once even. But there are so many things I would rather do, and, all in all, I find the elliptical and the weight machines to be kind of uninspiring. That being said, I do like to be active. Just don’t call it exercising; that ruins it for me! Here are my favorite ways to stay active.

Top ten fun activities (that just happen to be exercise).

  1. Rock on! Visit a climbing gym. Climbing gyms are cropping up here in St. Louis and all around the country. You do not need special equipment, they will rent that to you, and you don’t need to know how to climb, they have lessons or you can just try it out. There are also safety systems called auto-belays that lower you slowly to the ground when you fall, no matter how much you weigh. You will burn some serious calories while you build your muscle strength. You will be so busy concentrating on your next hand-hold you will forget you are exercising.
  2. Get out! Try a hike. What if you don’t know where to go? I recommend Meetup.com. There are many hiking Strolling in the Parkgroups that have get-togethers every week, year-round. You will find that the difficulty level of most hikes is explained in the description, and the hikes are usually led at no-charge. And, if it’s a cold day, you will burn more energy in a shorter amount of time.
  3. Pop a wheelie! Ride your bike to work or around town. You save money on gas, save yourself the parking hassles and get some exercise at the same time. If you are lucky enough to live in a town where Cycling Savvy meets I highly recommend attending a class. I was amazed at what I didn’t know about sharing the road safely with cars. In cities you can often take your bike on the bus or commuter train if you have a longer distance to travel. The same trains and busses can take you to bike trails or interesting sites from which you can ride home. Or, bring your bikes on your next date-night. And there are many strategies for cleaning up when you get to your destination if your office does not have a shower available.
  4. Park it! Plan to leave your car at home more often. In addition to biking to work, consider other times you could walk for your errands or a trip to the library. Walking is a great stress reliever. If you have stuff to bring home wear a back pack. Loading some weight on your spine while you walk is a great way to strengthen your muscles and bones.  And when you do have to drive, park a few blocks away from your destination. And if you commute by bus or train you can intentionally miss your stop and hoof-it to where you are going.
  5. Zone out! There are more and more movement-activated video games that are fun and get you off the couch. We have the Wii Fit, which has us ski-jumping, hula-hooping and line dancing in our living room. There are other systems that have sensors that track your motion and will have you jumping around like a kid.
  6. Jump for joy! Jumping on a trampoline is great exercise and it is so much fun. We play games on our trampoline. For example, we will have tennis balls on the trampoline and you have to avoid letting them touch your feet. Fun with kids and it’s a workout.
  7. Extreme vacuuming? Housework and exercise – two of your favorites, right? OK, so maybe this does not qualify as a fun activity, but it’s all about the mindset. What if you treated the housework like an Olympic event? Can you mop the floor more vigorously? Jog that laundry basket up the stairs? Power-walk through the grocery store? Pick up the pace behind your lawn mower? It counts! And your house will sparkle.
  8. Get your glide on! Ice skating is so much fun. Our community skating rink has lessons and open skate year-round. You can get on the ice for just a few bucks. A few trips around the rink and not only will you feel like a kid again but you will be taking off your scarf because your blood is pumping.
  9. Swing your partner! Dancing is a blast. Look for swing dancing, salsa, square dancing, lindy-hop, folk or contra dancing. Meetup.com is a good place to look, or in the local paper. Many dancing get-togethers are open to all, regardless of whether you have a partner, and many will begin the evening with a lesson to get the basics under your belt.
  10. Doggone it! There are so many furry friends needing a loving home. Studies have shown that dog owners are happier and healthier. And you need a walking partner. What a great way to do a good deed and start an activity program, all at the same time. But, sending Rover out to your fenced yard does not do the trick. Go for walks, play Frisbee and tag with your new best friend. Being active together will help both of you live a longer, healthier life.

It’s a great time of year to make a plan to be more active. So, get out there and make activity a part of your daily routine. You deserve to have more fun, and your body will thank you.

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