Whether you run in the park near your home or head to the gym on a regular schedule, sometimes doing the same old fitness routine can get boring. The danger in that is it becomes tempting to skip your workout altogether. Also, you can max out on your strength-building and calorie-burning potential by doing the same exercise regimen all the time. You can actually burn more calories and challenge your body better by shaking up your routine once in a while. Here are four activities you may not have considered, each of which offers something different to maintain or improve your fitness level.
Fencing has been compared to playing chess at 100 miles an hour because it calls on both physical and mental skills in near equal amounts. Competitors use one of three weapons: the foil, the épée or the sabre, which is the heaviest and most like a traditional sword. Fencers wear protective clothing, including a mask with a mesh face, and points are scored by touching one’s opponent in certain approved spots on the body as the fencers move back and forth along a fencing strip on the floor.
Fencing at advanced levels is done with electric gear that registers every time a point is scored, but many communities use traditional fencing rules including the honor system or with a visual referee. You can easily purchase gear online, and most fencing schools have salle gear, equipment that can be borrowed by new students. This sport builds cardiovascular health, flexibility and strength as well as keeps the brain in top shape with its strategic nature. It doesn’t have to be particularly high impact, however, so it’s a good option for people with mild joint issues or who want to avoid arthritis in the future.
Tai chi is considered a “soft” martial art from China. Practitioners use movements similar to those learned in hand-to-hand self-defense training, but they are performed more like a choreographed dance than one-on-one sparring. These sequences, called forms, vary in length, and they have different origins within Chinese history.
All tai chi forms, however, are like moving meditations. They incorporate regular deep breathing and ask for internal focus, so they are ideal for relieving stress. Tai chi also builds flexibility as well as strength. In China, large groups of people of all ages perform tai chi forms together. However, this activity can be done alone or with just a few people, making it perfect for someone who is on the road a lot for work or doesn’t want to be tied to an exercise class schedule.
If you’re looking for something to liven up your exercise routine, salsa dancing may be just the thing. While it’s perfect for improving cardiovascular fitness and both gross and small motor coordination, it’s also wonderful if you like socializing or want to meet more people. Salsa dancing lets you combine going out with exercising to vibrant music, which makes it appealing around the globe. Many countries now have salsa clubs where you can practice your moves every night of the week.
You can learn salsa dancing on your own or with a partner by watching videos online or on DVDs. There are also many ballroom or Latin dance schools that offer salsa classes, and most clubs have instructors available on the dance floor for impromptu lessons. Like tai chi, salsa dancing can be done by people of just about any age, and it can be as vigorous as you like. There are even folks who enjoy salsa dancing from their wheelchairs!
Many adults who didn’t pursue competitive swimming as kids find themselves wishing they had when they reach adulthood. Swimming is a fantastic whole-body exercise, and as long as you have water nearby, it can be done virtually anywhere. To really get a good workout, however, you need to perform the basic strokes correctly. If you find yourself wanting to do more than just water aerobics or the sidestroke, consider taking adult NYC swimming lessons.
A number of schools that offer swimming instruction for kids also have adult classes. They often split the students up into smaller groups by ability, so you can focus on learning the skills you need, whether that’s perfecting your freestyle (crawl) or learning that mega calorie-burning butterfly stroke. Swimming is a fabulous sport to enjoy for a lifetime, and with no impact on your joints, it’s a no-brainer to prevent or accommodate joint replacement.
If your fitness routine is getting a bit dull, don’t despair. Try one of the activities above, and you may find yourself with a brand new favorite to mix into your established regimen for fun and increased health.