Breaking the Mold Exercises

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Lack of time and motivation are the two main reasons why most people don’t exercise. But that shouldn’t stop you from pursing physical activity. Exercise shouldn’t be something you dread, so to help with motivation, choose activities that you enjoy doing. And if you’re too busy to go to the gym, incorporate as much exercise as possible into your daily activities, whether that’s taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking in the back of the parking lot for a longer walk.

The key to sustaining a healthy lifestyle involves combining exercising with enjoyable activities, and making physical fitness a regular part of your life. In what follows, we’ll show you how doing alternative exercises can make working out fun and time-efficient.

Making Exercise Fun

Are you tired of the usual run-of-the-mill exercises? It’s easy to get in a rut from doing the same exercises for years. The end result is usually burn out and cessation of activity altogether. But that’s not the only option.

Exercise is supposed to be enjoyable and energizing. One of the best ways to jumpstart your weight loss program is to mix up your old fitness routine with fresh, fun exercises. A 2009 study by L. A. Hagber, Ph.D., discovered that subjects who found enjoyment in physical activity exercised more frequently and at a higher intensity level than those who didn’t enjoy exercise1.

Exercise becomes a lot more fun when done with a friend or loved one. A study done by Drs. James Sallis and Neville Owen found that people who have social support during exercise are more likely to stick with an exercise program than individuals with no social encouragement2. That’s why if you can’t seem to get excited about physical activity, try engaging in some fun exercises that involve other people. Including a friend or family member in exercise can serve as an important catalyst for motivation. Here are some enjoyable activities that you can do with a partner or group.

If you’re the first one on the dance floor at special events, you can channel this passion into fun exercise. Dancing involves constant movement, which can certainly burn calories. A 155 pound individual can burn 387 calories in an hour of moderately-paced ballroom dancing. A study done by the AmericanCollegeof Sports Medicine found that dancers showed “a healthier pattern of body fat distribution” than those who engaged in little to no activity”3. In addition to weight reduction, dancing also develops flexibility, core strength, and stamina. So if you’re looking for a way to put some rhythm into your exercise, sign up for a dance class or go dancing with your spouse.

If you like being outside, you can lose weight and experience the great outdoors at the same time. Backpacking is a great alternative exercise that not only exposes you to fresh air and beautiful scenery but also burns calories. A 155 pound individual hiking with a backpack at a moderate pace can burn 493 calories per hour. Rock-climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and trail running are also other forms of outdoor activity that will get your heart pumping. So next time you have some free time, get outside and engage in some outdoor activities.

If exercise tends to stress you out, try yoga for a relaxing form of physical activity. Yoga essentially is therapy for the body. It cultivates calmness and tranquility. Along with stress relief, better flexibility, enhanced balance, and lower blood pressure, there are intensive forms of yoga that can help you burn calories. Another added benefit is that yoga can be done at home or in a hotel room.

A great way to relieve stress and burn calories at the same time is to take up martial arts, cardio boxing, or kickboxing. By incorporate kicks, punches, elbow strikes, and knee thrusts, marital arts exercise programs give a great cardio workout, improve flexibility, and teach you self-defense techniques.

If you like water activities, you may enjoy aquatic aerobics. Water exercise programs use aerobic movements for cardio improvement and surface area or buoyancy-resisted weights to help increase muscle strength. A 2007 study revealed that 30 minutes of aquatic exercise several times a week can produce weight reduction4. This form of exercise is also easy on your joints, if you have bad knees or arthritis.

Daily Activities that Burn Calories

Many people think of exercise as something arduous, painful, and time-consuming. But exercise doesn’t have to be miserable. In fact, you can integrate physical activity into your everyday tasks.

Taking out the trash, getting the mail, and other minor physical activities shorter than 10 minutes in length do not contribute significantly to weight reduction. But daily activates extended beyond 10 minutes that are light to moderate in intensity can improve your fitness level and help reduce weight when combined with an exercise program5. Here are some daily activities that, if done for 45 to 60 minutes, will help you burn a significant amount calories:

  • Shopping
  • Washing and waxing your car
  • Washing windows
  • Pushing a stroller
  • Raking leaves
  • Gardening
  • Painting a room
  • Shoveling snow
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Home repair
  • Vacuuming
  • Mopping
  • Playing with your kids

Although we don’t normally think of these activities as exercise, they do contribute to improved cardiovascular health and weight reduction if done for an extended period of time.

The main point is exercise doesn’t have to be limited to a treadmill or weight room. In order to achieve weight reduction, exercise physiologists simply recommend activities that promote a moderately increased heart rate and incorporate large-muscles movements6. There are a variety of alternative exercises and enjoyable activities that meet this standard. So if you don’t like the common forms of exercise, the solution isn’t to give up on physical activity all together, but rather to integrate your passions, hobbies, and daily activities with fitness.


1 Hagberg, L., Hellenius, M., L. Lindahl, & Lindahl, B. (2009). Importance of enjoyment when promoting physical exercise. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 740-747.

2 Sallis, J., & Owen, N. (2002). Ecological models of health behavior. In K. Glanz, B. Rimer, & F. Lewis (Eds.), Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice (3rd ed., pp. 462-484).San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

3 Modern Dancer Exhibit Favorable Fat Distribution. (2011, June 4). Retrieved fromAmericanCollegeof Sports Medicine: www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Media&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=15947

4 Nagle, E., Robertson, R., & Jakicic, J. (2007). Effects of aquatic exercise and walking in sedentary obese women undergoing a behavioral weight-loss intervention. Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 43-56.

5 Physical Activity and Public Health Guidelines. (2007). Retrieved fromAmericanCollegeof Sports Medicine: www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home_Page&TEMPLATE=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=7764

6 McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., & Katch, V. L. (2007). Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance (6th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


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