If there is one thing I try to avoid at all cost, it is long distance running. Sure, I’ll sprint if, you know, there is a bull moose lumbering after me. But running purely for exercise’s sake? Heck no! I have found infinite ways to get my fitness fix that don’t involve the monotonous pounding of your joints into oblivion. Here are some fun fitness activities that provide all the benefits of running…with none of the misery.
It’s time to ditch that dusty old treadmill that’s been taking up one eighth of your spare room for the past decade. High-intensity interval training is a great way to get lots of beneficial cardio in without having to slog through an hour on the treadmill. Plus, if you’re trying to lose weight, steady anaerobic cardio like running may actually be slowing your metabolism. Interval training has long been lauded as a powerful tool in a tiny package and has shown its potential to be way more effective than running. You could try Crossfit on for size, or just train in the comfort of your own home. HIIT is fast-paced, full throttle and packs a lot of cardio power into less than a 30 minute window.
If you are frustrated when moving at a snail’s pace jog on your own two feet, why not try two wheels? Not only can biking function as an excellent commuting option, but cycling is a great cardio activity that works your legs and core and allows you to soar through space like a superperson! (That is, unless your doing indoor spinning, in which case you can soar through your imagination.) The point is, if running is too slow or knee-intensive for you, biking might do the trick.
Love being outside and working out for free, but find running a little too harsh on your joints? Try hiking. You can go as quickly or as slowly as you want. Walk in the local park or trek up a nearby mountain. Deck yourself out in all the latest tech gear or pull that threadbare pair of sweatpants out of your closet. Hiking can be a very meditative experience, so make your workout as intense or gentle as you want it to be and reap the mind-body benefits.
There may be nothing more satisfying than landing a solid punch on a heavy bag. Don’t get too excited—there is still a little bit of warm-up running in boxing. But, then you get to punch things! Doesn’t that make up for it? Boxing is a full body workout (meaning your legs, core and arms all get a solid workout) that is formatted similarly to high-intensity interval training, which means it is a powerful cardio and strength builder.
If you feel like a drunken T-Rex when you run, upper body swaying to and fro, maybe you’d prefer to build some upper body strength. Climbing isn’t all about arms, your footwork and core strength are essential, too. But if you’d like the basic ability to lift and maneuver your own body up and over something, being a practiced climber is a useful skill. If you’ve never been climbing before, I recommend starting in a rock gym with a professional. They can help you decide what kind of climbing is best for you and offer some tips and techniques to take some of the pressure off your forearms. And don’t worry, it’s fun for all ages.
You (probably) can’t run on water. Jesus could walk, but no one except the Green Basilisk lizard actually runs. So, if you want to move quickly over the water as a human, you are far better off rowing. Rowing is an excellent core workout. You can use a rower at home, but if you have a body of water nearby, it doesn’t get more glorious than getting out for an early morning paddle on a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddle board. You’ll barely realize that you’re exercising.
Feeling bouncy? Looking for something a little more fun and reminiscent of childhood? This therapeutic exercise involves nothing more than jumping on a trampoline. If you already have one in your backyard, you’re good to go. And, believe it or not, rebounding is actually very beneficial. It circulates lymph in the body and improves cardiovascular strength while being very gentle on the joints. Unleash your inner child!
Ugh, is yoga the answer to everything? Yes, probably. If you love the meditative effects of running but hate the cardio stress and joint pain, yoga may be for you. Between the breath work, the flexibility and strength building, and the meditative effects, yoga is the answer if you are looking for a low-stress, gentle way of moving your body.
If you’re really concerned about the effect running has on your joints, swimming is naturally the answer. If you have a pool or lake nearby, why not hop in and do a few laps? Swimming is excellent for your joints because it is non-weight bearing, so it strengthens and lengthen the entire body without imposing any additional stress on it.
Running is easy to do and requires practically no gear, but it is absolutely not for everyone. Expand your horizons and try adding in a few of these exercises in place of your dreaded run this week and see how you feel. The secret to fitness is: if you’re having fun, you’ll keep doing it. Now get out there and have a blast!