What Are Your Favorite Activities for Staying Fit? Here’s mine!
You can’t flourish by cardio exercise alone which is why I want to take a little time to highlight some activities that can help you live a more complete “fit” lifestyle.
Keep in mind that it’s definitely not a requisite to participate in all of these activities. In order to get the most benefit you’ll probably want to ensure you are incorporating one or two of these activities every day if possible, but at least a few times per week.
And I know that you’re short on time, but don’t short change your fitness and wellness because of this constraint. A lot of times when you tell yourself you are short on time you’re really making an excuse to stay unfit so get with it and get on board with a new fitness lifestyle. You’ll be happy you did when you start realizing the benefits.
Top 5 Activities for a Fit Lifestyle
1. Cardiovascular Training
Treadmill, elliptical trainer, stair stepper and more, cardio is the old gym workout standby. A good way to break a sweat and a great way to get your heart pumping, cardio is an important part of any fit lifestyle. The benefits of cardio are many and can include better heart health, increased metabolism and increased stamina. Any activity that gets your heart rate up for a sustained period can be considered cardiovascular training. Think fast walking, jogging, the exercise machines mentioned previously, exercise videos like Zumba and even dancing.
2. Strength Training/Weight Lifting
Strength training, also called weight lifting or weight training, is often shunned by women who fear “bulking up”. This is a huge mistake because strength training is an incredible way to get stronger and shape your body. Hormones, especially testosterone, play a big part in putting on muscle mass, but because women have less testosterone in their bodies it makes it much less likely for them to bulk up. Both men and women who strive for mass gains have to work incredibly hard at making this happen through diet and seriously intense exercise. The average women does not need to worry about this and should instead focus on the benefits of a good strength training program.
A strength training session burns calories which is the first bonus but the major boon of a strength training program is that the muscle you gain through this work actually helps boost your metabolism around the clock. Add in the benefit of reshaping your body to be more defined and svelte and you’ll be kicking yourself for not strength training years ago. A good whole body plan that hits every major muscle group is a solid place for beginners to start. If you’re new to strength training I highly suggest you meet with a personal trainer at least once or twice to help you plan a program and guide you on form and safety.
Stretching helps keep you loose and limber which in turn can help ease muscle aches, strain and imbalances. There are different types of stretching for different needs. Static stretching is stretching of the muscles when they are at rest. The muscle is stretched to a point of tension and the position is held for a certain amount of time. Static stretching helps elongate the muscle and increases flexibility over time. This type of stretching has more recently been thought to not be as helpful prior to exercise or sports activities because it may hinder performance. If you employ this type of stretching you may want to limit it to after exercise activity or save it for the morning or evenings when you are relaxing.
Active stretching, sometimes called dynamic stretching, is becoming the standard preparation for physical activity because it helps warm up your joints and muscles. Active stretching employs the use of movement of a specific joint through a full, natural range of motion. Rather than holding a stretch, movement is typically continuous, which aids in the warming up of the body for more strenuous activity.
Ballistic stretching is a type of stretching where you force extra stretch out of your muscle, often by bouncing while holding a static stretch. Please discontinue all ballistic stretching as this can cause tears in your muscle fibers – ouch!
Stretching can be done at almost any time during your day. At the office you may want to try a few stretches you can do in your chair to stretch out your back, neck, arms, and hands. Before you start your cardio and strength training routine you should engage in some light active stretching and don’t forget to employ stretching in your cool down too. At home you can do a full body stretch routine that hits every major area in about 10 minutes or less. This can be a great way to start or end your day.
Yoga and Pilates have excellent benefits and can be a great occasional alternative for cardio, strength training and stretching. Yoga is an ancient mind/body practice that has become more mainstream through the proliferation of practice among those looking for it’s benefits. Yoga, as a physical practice, focuses on poses that challenge balance, stretching and strength. There are various styles and variations of practice so you may want to research what will work best for you. You may also want to try out several types and different instructors to ensure you find the best match for you.
Pilates focuses on a strong core, strength, flexibility and mindfulness of the body working in proper alignment. Work is typically done on a mat or on a machine like the Reformer. Pilates was originally developed by Joseph H. Pilates to help perfect the body and later to help the recovery of war soldiers. These days, the term Pilates may refer to a variety of practices, so as in the case of yoga, you should research classes and instructors until you find the right fit for you.
5. Outdoor/Fun Activities
Outdoor activities like riding your bike, jogging and walking can all play a part in a fit lifestyle, but fun activities also count. Tennis, soccer, softball and other adult sports all provide great ways to burn calories while having a good time. Even running around with your kids in the backyard or a park will help burn calories and instill good lessons regarding fitness in your kids.
Living a fit lifestyle isn’t about participating in any one activity and calling it a day. It’s about engaging in a wide range of healthy activities that not only help you be more fit, but also enjoy life more.
Cardio, strength training, stretching, yoga, Pilates, and outdoor activities are all great fitness suggestions to try to incorporate into your routine. Whether you opt to participate in one, two or all the activities suggested here, I hope that you take away some new inspiration to employ more activities in your own fit lifestyle.