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ALTERNATIVE activities

THESE WORKOUTS DELIVER FITNESS BEYOND THE GYM

BY ANNETTE BROOKS

We rang in 2024, and now it’s time to kick off your New Year’s resolutions. If getting into better shape is one of them, try out a few options instead of giving up before you start. Chances are, you’ll find one or more new ways to add physical fitness to your lifestyle.


WALKING AND HIKING


And here’s a tip — smile when you’re dancing. Research indicates smiling can reduce stress and improve your mood.


CALISTHENICS


Remember the exercises you used to do in school gym class? They’re still beneficial. Push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, leg raises, sit-ups, jumping jacks, and more can be done at home without special equipment. Watch a few instructional videos before you start so you know how to maintain proper form and minimize your risk of injury. Browsing through these, you might even find an online session or two you enjoy following along with.


CYCLING


Whether you’re outside on an actual bicycle or indoors on a stationary bike participating in a virtual spin class, cycling is a great aerobic activity that gives your lungs and heart a good workout and strengthens and tones your leg, buttocks, and core muscles. Start slowly and work up to a more intense cycling routine. And since it’s a non-weight-bearing activity, cycling is easy on your joints.


SWIMMING


If you know how to swim and have a pool in your backyard or a community pool, swim laps if it’s large enough. Or look into swim classes at your local YMCA. If you don’t want to get your hair wet or stuff it into a swim cap, try pool exercises such as water aerobics and workouts with weights, or use a kickboard and do flutter and frog kicks. Look online for inspiration and to help ensure you grasp and use the kickboard safely and effectively. You can also go pool-walking for 30 minutes or more to improve your cardiovascular health.


Don’t overlook walking and hiking because it seems too easy or enjoyable. Invest in some good walking shoes, then get out in the sunshine and fresh air to walk around your neighborhood or a local park. If you have a hiking trail nearby, change up your routine with a hike now and then. You can walk and hike alone or with a friend or look for an organized walking or hiking group to join.


When the weather’s uncooperative, use a home treadmill, walk around your house and up and down the stairs for 20 to 30 minutes, or incorporate another form of exercise into your routine, such as dancing or calisthenics.


DANCE


Create a playlist of your favorite tunes and bust a move for at least 30 minutes. Mix it up and incorporate different moves into your dance to keep it fresh and to exercise different muscles. If you want more structure or additional ideas for your dance routine, find an online dance video to dance along with. They cover different styles, including salsa, hip-hop, jazzercise, and belly dancing. Or try Zumba, a popular Latin-inspired fitness program combining aerobic and dance movements. Either sign up for a class or follow along to a video at home.

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