Guest Post by Travis White @ learnfit.org
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Who says the only way to work out is to hit the gym and run on a treadmill for 30 minutes? There are plenty of ways to get fit while having fun – just think creatively, and why not take advantage of the warmer spring weather? Doing so will be great for your physical health, of course, but don’t forget the mental benefits of exercise. Good mental health plays an important role in how you feel about your body and helping you avoid negative behaviors, such as substance abuse. So, as the weather gets warmer opt for physical activity and the natural mood boost that spring will bring.
Regardless of whether you use a bag or choose to shadowbox (boxing with an imaginary opponent), boxing gives you an intense workout while letting you take out some frustration. Harvard Health Publications notes that through the swinging of your arms to punch, you’re working the muscles in your arms and shoulders, increasing your upper-body strength. Also, the boxer crouch forces you into a wide stance with your knees slightly bent, which strengthens your core muscles, back, and legs. Give it a try by taking a boxing class. Once you get a feel for it, purchase your own punching bag to move your workout outdoors and breathe in some fresh air while you let off some steam.
Geocaching is self-proclaimed as “the world’s largest treasure hunt” and is a great way to walk for exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and have fun. A geocache is a container hidden at a specific GPS coordinate by members of the geocaching community, meaning everyday people. Geocaches can be found all over the world, and participants navigate to the coordinates using a GPS device, such as a phone, to find the geocache. Inside the geocache container is a logbook to log the find. The container may also hold an item chosen by the cache owner or previous visitors to the geocache. You can leave the item, add a new item, or take an item and replace it with something new.
Relive your childhood and get fit at the same time by playing dodgeball with your friends. Health Fitness Revolution created a list of the top 10 health benefits from a game of dodgeball. Obviously, you’ll burn calories while you play, and thanks to the short bursts of sprinting involved in the game, it’s a great form of anaerobic exercise. As you dart back and forth while throwing and dodging balls, you’ll increase your flexibility, agility, and balance. The throwing motions build strength in your shoulders, back, abs, and arms. Beyond the physical health benefits, it also offers mental health benefits. By having fun with your friends or meeting new people, you are sure to reduce stress levels. Get a group of friends together and set up a weekly dodgeball game at your local ballpark after work to enjoy the warm spring evening and added exercise bonus.
Dog ownership has many benefits. Dogs provide companionship and have been shown to lower stress levels in their owners. Walking a dog is an inherent part of dog ownership. When it is cold, it can be tempting to avoid going outside as much as possible and skip dog walking altogether. Although owners could just put their dogs outside to use the restroom and call it a day, a study showed that most owners walk their dog, resulting in physical activity for both the dog and the owner. People without dogs exercise too, but the study found that thanks to walking their dogs, the likelihood of achieving sufficient physical activity and walking were up to 77 percent higher among dog owners than those without dogs. Now that spring has sprung, the low temperatures can’t be used as an excuse, so get moving to not only improve your fitness, but your dog’s fitness as well.
While you certainly can use dumbbells and push ups as a form of exercise, if you need a bit more excitement, consider trying an activity outside the gym, like geocaching. You can burn calories, tone up your body, and have fun! It’s really a win-win for you.