Tired of the same old gym workouts? Summer’s a great time to freshen up your exercise plan. Get inspired by all the healthy benefits of these out-of-the-gym activities!
Doing yoga regularly has been shown in numerous studies to help decrease stress, anxiety, inflammation, pain, depression, risk for heart disease….and the list goes on. Physically it can help strengthen muscles, and increase flexibility and balance. In addition, the mindfulness that comes along with regularly practicing yoga can transfer over into other areas of your life, like eating, which can then translate to healthier eating behaviors. A win-win for healthy living!
Go for a hike
Hiking is the perfect way to get into nature while elevating your heart rate (or even make it possible to spend time with a friend). A recent study showed that spending just 20 minutes in nature can significantly reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, so taking a stroll in the forest is good for your mood and your cardiovascular fitness. Walking on slightly uneven surfaces also provides a natural way to engage the core and to support balance—something you won’t get from walking on a treadmill or riding a bike.
Dance it off
Whether you’re hitting the dance floor at a wedding or enrolled in a ballet class, dancing can be a fun way to burn a few calories. While there are the obvious cardiovascular benefits of an hour spent dancing to your favorite songs, research shows that the technical movements required for a ballet or hip hop class can also strengthen muscles, reduce the chance for injury (especially important in older adults) and even sharpen the mind. Studies have also shown that dancing can boost your mood by triggering the release of endorphins and reducing stress.
Lift some weights
When it comes to exercise for older adults, strength training may be even more important than cardio. That’s because weight training helps build muscle (which naturally helps you burn more calories) and helps strengthen your bones, which respond to the pressure of the weight by increasing their density. Many trainers recommend weight training—via free weights, machines or bodyweight exercises—twice a week, focusing on the upper body one day and the lower body several days later.
Train for a race
Whether it’s a full marathon or just a local 5K, training toward a goal is a great way to stay motivated and disciplined about your fitness. Running’s obvious cardiovascular benefits include strengthening your heart, thus reducing the risk of heart attack, and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check. It’s also a great way to meet other runners, spend time socially and get fierce bragging rights in the end!