While for many the gym is a home from home, there are plenty of folk who can think of nothing worse than that factory feel of being on a treadmill in an orderly row of runners, nor the absolute control of an instructor in a group exercise class.
Maybe you’re one of these people who want more freedom to decide what you do, where you do it and when you do it. These folk are typically the lone long-distance runners, hardcore road bikers, or solitary swimmers with the discipline to find the time to make the effort and go the distance.
Still not you? Then you have a different diagnosis – someone who’s dread, fear or sheer dislike of any exercise means you’re in real risk of being out of shape.
If you’re nodding your head now in reluctant recognition fear not, there are alternatives to all the above that will get you moving, make you stronger, raise your heart rate and burn unwanted calories to boot. Plus none of them require lycra – unless that’s your thing!
Golf – it’s not just loud clothes and business talk
Golf is a great game for those who enjoy the outdoors and a real challenge. The average 18-hole golf course requires most players to take 13,000 steps covering an impressive five miles in all, assuming you’re not using a cart.
Obviously, each course has its unique cambers and surrounds and the great news is that if you’re new to the game the steps you take are higher and the swings greater in number.
An average game of golf lasts 4 hours so even though it’s low intensity it is an endurance sport and most people use up an impressive 825 calories per round – double that of a sweaty 30-minute high-intensity class.
Shooting Hoops – dunk your troubles and calories away
Most parks and many homes have a basketball hoop and spending a lunchtime away from work or an afternoon with your mates dodging, passing, intercepting, blocking and dunking doesn’t feel like a workout but certainly has the same effects.
Mucking about on a court is great for concentration and co-ordination. It builds upper body strength through ball control and lower body strength and agility too. Calorie consumption is high – coming in at 600 calories plus per hour for most people.
An informal hoop session is also a great stress reliever and can substitute the regular jar with workmates at the pub after clocking off – so you get double the benefits.
Table Football and Friends – the all-weather beautiful games
Ever since Joey and Chandler’s apartment first appeared on TV in the 90s the popularity of table football (or foosball) in the home has enjoyed an incredible surge. And there are some genuinely affordable tables that offer multiple games such as pool and air hockey. Some even serve as a dining table which is great for those with limited space.
Whether you’re playing in a bar or at home it means you’re standing and moving in an environment where you’d otherwise be sitting and predominantly static. So automatically – albeit at a subtle level – you’re doing your body good.
Table games are sociable and fun too and the banter between mates is great for forging friendships and fuelling the feel-good factors with which the more recognised forms of exercise are associated.
Table Tennis –for speed and skill
Overtaking foosball on the table sports popularity front is table tennis which is enjoying a resurgence in trendy bars the world over. We’ve given it its own category as it’s pace and the required skills are in a different league to the slower table games mentioned above.
As anyone who has played it knows that a ping pong ball moves at incredible speed, so to return it on a regular basis with accuracy requires agility. Playing the game builds your balance and rapidly improves your hand-eye co-ordination and reaction times which are assets you can cash in on in so many other areas of life. There are even studies out there that suggest a regular game of ping pong will ward off brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
The intensity is obviously not as high as other exercise forms but trade an hour at the pub with a couple of glasses of wine for an hour’s ping pong with a bottle of water and instead of adding 160 calories to your daily intake, you’ll have used up 250.
Super-sized board games – fun in the fresh air
Big games for big kids are great for barbecues and summer parties. So roll out the Twister mat in the garden, challenge the kids to a game of giant Jenga or rack up four in a row whenever the sun shines and you’ll cut energy bills and use some energy of your own.
Twister is great for the core and challenges your strength and flexibility with the sheer variety of shapes that each turn of the dial instructs you to attempt, as well as being incredibly good fun. Hop scotch will up your heartbeat a bit and give the lower leg stabilisers extra exercise while you hover on one leg. Giant snakes and ladders replaces the plastic counter with a person, so will keep you moving as you progress up, down and around the board.
If you don’t have kids for these activities borrow some! They’ve always got loads of stamina and enthusiasm to keep you going when you wane. Blend physical consequences into the games for winners and losers and you’ll be surprised how quickly the time goes and how good you’ll feel afterwards.
Forget it’s exercise, just have fun
The key thing is to find fun in any activity, especially if you’re a person who resists formal exercise. By simply introducing a little more activity to your lifestyle you’ll be eating and drinking less and moving more which will improve how you feel as well as how you look.
Try a little extra activity a few times a week, it will make a massive difference. Go on, we challenge you!
If you need any equipment to get you started, head to our store here or go straight to our golf department, basketball department, table tennis department, outdoor games page and our table games page where you’ll find everything you need to have fun and get active!