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Not an exercise fanatic?

Here are a few fitness alternatives that you just might love. 

Being physically active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, with many benefits for both mind and body. But what if you don’t enjoy going to a gym, jogging or doing yoga? Fortunately, there are lots of other ways to get moving. The trick is finding something you like and making it a regular part of your routine. Here are some ideas if you aren’t keen on traditional workouts.

Get your groove on. Dancing is a great way to burn calories while having fun. There are lessons for all kinds of dance styles: salsa, tango, ballroom, ballet, hip-hop, breakdancing – the choice is yours. Go solo or as a couple, or simply boogie down at home. Put on your favourite tunes and dance like no one’s watching! 

Climb a wall. Rock climbing has grown in popularity in recent years. Various types of climbing can improve strength, endurance, balance, agility and mental control. Bouldering is performed closer to the ground without the use of ropes or a harness. Top rope requires a harness and partner (belayer). And then there’s the more advanced lead climbing, in which harnessed climbers clip their rope into bolted supports as they go up a route. Indoor climbing gyms across Canada offer instruction and equipment rentals. Plan to invest in your own pair of climbing shoes, which are essential for getting a grip on the climbing holds. 

Jump in the pool. From aquafit to lane swimming, if you like the water your local community pool likely has something available for you. Aquatic exercise is one of the best ways to get all your muscles working, and since your body supports a smaller percentage of its weight while in the water, your joints are less stressed than during dryland activities. If you prefer to work out alone, book yourself a lane to swim laps, or try aquafit if you prefer the motivation of a group. For more advanced swimmers, joining a masters swim team can be a great social activity that lets you show off your 50-metre butterfly during fun competitions. 

Join a league. No matter where you live, there’s a variety of sports leagues that you can join – an excellent way to stay active and also meet new people. Softball, hockey and lawn bowling leagues tend to be the most common, but pickleball has become a popular sport for people of all ages. A cross between tennis and table tennis, pickleball is played on a smaller court with similar rules to tennis but using hard paddles.

Throw an axe. Bicep curls not your thing? Try a batting cage or axe throwing. Not only do both activities give you a good arm and core workout, but they are also useful for working on hand-eye coordination. Batting cages – where you stand in a “cage” and hit baseballs that a machine throws at you – have been around for decades, but axe throwing, originally a lumberjack competition, has gained traction in recent years to become widely accessible worldwide. Axe-throwing venues are set up so you can safely practise your aim by throwing an axe onto a piece of wood with the goal of hitting the bull’s-eye. What’s more, it’s fun!

Partake in parkour. If you’ve never heard of parkour, then you might want to read this. Parkour is all about getting from one point to another, using existing obstacles to help you reach your destination quickly and more efficiently. Incorporating movements like jumping, vaulting, climbing and somersaulting, it can seem like an acrobatic feat but it’s also a great workout. While this is an activity better suited for individuals with a certain level of fitness, parkour for seniors is becoming more popular. “Silver parkour” is modified to help older adults avoid falls or evade injury if they do tumble, by focusing on balance, flexibility, strength and mobility.

Try the trapeze. If you want to try something really different, consider a circus class. While not as widely available, circus schools offer various classes to suit different fitness levels. From aerial activities like the trapeze, hoops and silks to floor acrobatics, there are many options. The routines can help build strength, flexibility, balance and endurance, and you can have a lot of fun trying something totally new.

Ski for your life. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are two enjoyable winter activities suited for just about anybody. Because we are lucky enough to live in Canada, there’s no shortage of snowy outdoor trails and many of them have equipment rentals available. Not only will you burn calories, but you can also take in some wonderful winter scenery while you’re at it. 

Regardless of your age, preference or ability, there are lots of creative ways to get physically active – just make sure whatever you undertake matches your level of fitness. If you enjoy it and stick with it, your body and mind will thank you later!

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