Our bodies need movement. It’s what keeps our blood circulating throughout the body, increases oxygen intake, keeps our joints lubricated and helps with weight management. Mentally, staying active improves self-esteem, boosts optimism, promotes memory enhancement, and enhances your ability to focus. However, for some, the idea of exercising elicits thoughts of having to carve out huge chunks of time in out of your day, enduring hard workouts, muscle soreness, excessive sweating, and even feelings of embarrassment if it involves being out in public. Although some “live” at the gym, you can still get your daily dose of exercise without overworking yourself.

Rather than viewing exercising as a chore, working out can actually be fun. Too often, people believe in the “no pain, no gain” concept, but physical fitness doesn’t have to be painful or boring. The key is to find something that you enjoy doing and incorporate it into your daily routine. If you haven’t yet found an enjoyable exercise that routinely keeps you active, try one of these fun workouts, some of which you can do in the comfort of your own home.

Nia Workout. When I went home to the west coast to visit my family for the holidays, my sister took me to my very first NIA (Neuromuscular Integrative Action) workout. NIA is very low impact and incorporates both the mind and body as it uses techniques from Tai chi, yoga, dance and martial arts. Unlike other workout classes, NIA instructors encourage you to go at your own pace. Starting out with a relaxing meditation, you allow your mind to determine your movements and the energy behind them as the intensity of the music increases.

During a NIA workout, you are encouraged to only move in ways that are healing. Movements that may cause injury or that may exhaust you are highly discouraged. Overall, the principle of NIA is to only do what is pleasing to your body. You choose the amount of intensity of each move. Because the movements of this workout are very fluid, it’s a great workout for people of all ages. The best part is that it doesn’t even feel like a workout. Click here to see an example of a NIA workout, led by co-creator Debbie Rosas. You’ll find that this form of movement excellent for lifting your mood.

Image source:  YouTube.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhqjrKlTAjo.

Zumba®. If you’re looking for a more involved dance workout, Zumba might be the one for you. Created by a Colombian dancer and choreographer, Zumba fuses a combination of salsa, merengue, and samba with high energy Latin and World music.  For those who love the art of dance, some say this workout feels more like a party than an exercise routine. Because of this, Zumba has attracted people that previously had not made fitness a part of their regular practice into dancing away their stress and excess weight. According to the Time Magazine article, Why Zumba Is Insanely Good Exercise, a “study linked Zumba’s hip-swinging, stomach-gyrating movements to increased core and trunk strength and better balance in older overweight women.” A related study which focused on the psychological benefits of Zumba found that “people who practice it feel more independent and said that their lives seemed more purposeful.”

I took my first Zumba class while on a cruise and absolutely love it!  Not only did it provide a fun way of getting a very intense workout, but the syncopation of the Latin beats and steps was stimulating to my mind as well.  Although I took a more intense class, there are a variety of Zumba classes that you can take to meet you where you are. There are even classes for kids, families, and active older adults, as well as Zumba toning, which involves weights. If you’re interested in finding a class near you with a licensed Zumba instructor, go to www.zumba.com.

Image source: YouTube https://youtu.be/n-kkgecLxG8

Strength Training. As we age, we lose lean muscle mass which can lead to an increase in body fat. By incorporating resistance exercises into your workouts, you’ll add lean muscle, strengthen your bones, and raise your metabolic rate. It’s not necessary to bench-press your body weight. You can use resistance bands, low weight dumbbells (3-5 pounds), or even your own body weight.

To make strength training more interesting, I have a friend who creates challenges for himself during his favorite television shows. He has a number of exercises that he plans during commercial breaks. Keeping a pair of dumbbells at hand, once his show breaks for commercials, he will engage in shoulder presses, bicep curls, planks, squats, sit-ups and bicycle crunches, among many others. His goal is to see how many reps he can complete of one exercise, or if he can complete a full circuit within the given commercial timeslot.

Strength training workouts can be done anywhere. At home, in the gym, or even at your office. Some people have been known to keep a pair of weights or resistance bands at their desk so that they can complete a few reps when they break from their tasks. For some ideas on how to start a simple strength training workout for a beginner, try these five moves from SHAPE® magazine.

Image source The Easiest Strength Training Plan Ever!

Walking. One of the easiest, most basic, and effective exercises to get your heart pumping is walking. Taking a 30-minute walk every day can help you manage your weight, improve your balance, boost your mood, strengthen your bones and improve your balance. While some may prefer to stay indoors and walk on a treadmill, you can gain greater benefits by getting outside in the fresh air. The changing terrain and varying wind speed provide resistance, which cannot be duplicated on a treadmill. Outdoor walking also engages your senses which helps to keep your brain active.

To make your daily walks more engaging, find a walking partner or group. Walking with others makes you more accountable for completing your daily exercise and encourages you to socialize. If you don’t have a partner, try joining a walking group in your neighborhood. Log on to Meetup.com to find walking groups near you. If one doesn’t exist, create a meetup of your own.

A few years ago, a friend told me about a new wellness plan that her company started. Each wellness plan participant received free pedometers and was encouraged to get between 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day. The company held competitions for individuals and groups that had the most steps in a given time period. This encouraged employees to take frequent breaks during the day to walk around the office or the parking lot. Many employees created walking groups and specified walking times throughout the day. Although employees took more time away from their desks than they had prior to the wellness program, the company found that their employees were more focused, more productive, and lost weight.

Rebounding. Trampolines aren’t just for the little ones, they are an effective tool for adults as well. According to Dr. Axe, rebounding can burn more calories than walking or jogging, strengthen your body, and detoxify your cells. Because this workout is low impact, it is very easy on your joints. The simple movement of bouncing up and down helps to jumpstart your lymphatic system which encourages the detoxification of your cells, thereby improving your body’s immune system. This is very important for anyone dealing with cancer. When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I would jump on the rebounder for at least 2 minutes once every waking hour.  I would often even rebound for as long as 20 minutes at times. Doing this helps to flush toxins out of your lymphatic system since it does not have a pump, like your cardiovascular does.

I have a friend who keeps a rebounder in her home office. In order to keep her goal of achieving 10,000 steps per day, she takes a break every hour to jog on her trampoline. Because her job requires long hours in a seated position, utilizing her rebounder helps her to increase her oxygen levels, improve circulation, and strengthen her muscles.

Image source: iStock Photo

Not only is rebounding an effective exercise, it’s also a fun way to exercise at home. You can rebound in outdoors, in your living room, or as my friend does, in her office. Either way, getting in a few bounces here and there will help to keep your body in motion. For a list of rebounding exercises suggested by Dr. Axe, click here.

Looking for a rebounder?  I really love the Bellicon Classic rebounder, which probably makes the top-of-the-line for rebounders as they use bungee cords instead of the traditional springs.  This makes the rebound motion extremely smooth and quiet. Whether you choose to rebound, or one of these other workouts, the most important thing is to find an enjoyable exercise that will get your body moving. You can take classes that focus on dance, martial arts, cycling, and even roller skating. If you prefer to workout at home, there are workouts available on YouTube®, your cable television’s OnDemand service, or DVDs.

While keeping your body moving is important to your health, you’re not going to maintain the habit if you don’t enjoy it. Rather than gritting and bearing through your exercise routine, when you have fun, working out no longer has to be something that you force yourself to do; it’s something that you will look forward to and want to do. So, get moving and have fun with it. Not only will it keep you in shape, but it will uplift your mood as well.

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