When you were a kid, you moved your body while playing; you didn’t think about exercising. Swinging from the monkey bars, running around the park and playing soccer with friends were par for the course of an active childhood.
If, as an adult, the thought of breaking a sweat breaks your spirit, it might be time to think about fun ways you can get active, just like you’re a kid again.
It’s recommended that adults do 150-300 minutes (2½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity a week. Starting with just 30 minutes a day will put you right in the middle of that range. But no one wants to spend half an hour a day slogging it out doing something they hate. You’ll get the most out of physical activities that you enjoy, and you’ll keep coming back for more.
Below is a list of activities that will get your heart pumping and add a bit of fun into your schedule at the same time.
Ready, set, play!
1. Walking/running games
Going for a walk or a jog is an easy and accessible type of exercise, but lapping your neighbourhood can get boring quickly.
There are heaps of apps you can download that will transform your walk or run into an adventure. Zombies, Run! puts you in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, where zombies chase you as you run to gather much needed supplies for your community. Other apps like Walkr and Fit for Battle can be fun too, or you could try geocaching games that ask you to interact with virtual objects placed in your real world.
2. Dance party
How long has it been since you had a dance to your favourite music? Let your hair down, draw the curtains if you’ve got particularly nosy neighbours, pump some beats, and get moving. It’ll only take about eight songs for you to get your 30 minutes in, so make sure you choose your best bangers to get your heart beat up!
4. Flying disc/disc sport
Flying disc is a quick and easy way to get moving with a friend. Count how many times you can throw the disc back and forth without dropping it, and make it more of a workout by asking them to make you run for it.
5. Catch and kick
Anyone with kids will know that sometimes entertaining them takes priority to looking after your own health. Why not gather the family together and you all go to your local park to kick a footy or throw a ball back and forth? Once everyone’s practised their kicking, throwing and catching skills, take things to the next level by asking them to throw or kick long and make you run for it.
6. Take the stairs
An oldy but a goody, taking the stairs instead of an escalator or lift is great for working the major muscle groups in the legs and glutes. It might not seem like the most fun option for a workout, but you can fit a surprising amount of activity into every day by taking the stairs whenever they are an option.
7. Walking meetings
If your workplace demands a lot of meetings, suggest making one every day a ‘walking meeting’. Head out of stuffy office rooms and to a nearby park, or just the footpath, and pound out a few steps while you talk business. Don’t forget to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide when you’re outside during the day!
8. Dance class
Swing dancing, tap dancing, ballet or salsa – there are so many different styles of dance that will raise your heart rate and challenge your coordination. Most dance classes take one-off or term-based sign-ups, so you can try one style for a few months, and then switch it up.
Getting out and about in the great outdoors is a wonderful way to stretch your legs and see some of our state’s amazing scenery. Visit the Queensland National Parks website for some inspiration about where to go!
10. Rock climbing
Challenge your strength and experience the adrenalin rush of defying gravity as you scale a rock wall. Start by finding an indoor gym or an instructor that will show you the ropes.
11. Water balloon battle
For some people, the best way to get active is to make it a competition. Gather some friends, fill a basket with pre-filled balloons and try to stay dry! Just don’t forget to pick up the burst balloons and place them in the bin when you’ve finished, and play on the lawn or in the garden area so that the water can also water the plants.
12. Take your dog to a doggy meetup
Lots of Queenslanders get their steps in walking the dog each day. If you’re a dog owner, spice up your routine by taking your dog along to a dog meetup, where you can meet other like-minded canine-lovers and go for a walk, run or hike together.
13. Master a jump rope routine
Jumping rope is great aerobic exercise and will get your heart rate up in no time. Get fancy by learning a jump rope routine – you can find tutorials online to help you learn new tricks.
14. Practise a yoga arm balance
If you’ve been thinking that yoga is all about gentle flows and deep breaths, think again. Arm balances call on core, arm and shoulder strength as well as the focus yoga is renowned for fostering. Start with something easy and spend some time each week developing your strength.
15. Hula hoop
Hula hooping was a bit of fun as a kid, but as an adult it can be a serious workout. Grab a hoop and work those abs!
16. Try out that sport you always wanted to do as a kid
How long has it been since you tried something new? While starting a new sport or heading to a new class might be daunting, changing up your routine might be just the thing to get you excited about being active. Make a list of all the activities you thought would be really cool to try as a child – ice skating, fencing, kendo, ballet, fan dancing – and then pick one to try.
17. Join a team sport
18. Make date night active night
Date night (or any time you hang with loved ones or friends) doesn’t have to be spent sitting in a cinema or binging TV shows. Get active on your next date by going bowling, playing laser tag or paintball, or sinking balls at minigolf.
Orienteering is a cross country navigation activity done on foot or bike, that requires competitors to locate and travel to different areas on a map as fast as possible. While learning navigation skills, orienteering also provides opportunity for a great outdoor workout that can be done by people of all ages.
Orienteering Queensland coordinates clubs and events across the state.
20. Deep clean
Did you know that getting your house and yard in tip-top shape can be good for your body, too? You don’t need to choose between your household to-do list and heading out for exercise, just pick a job and get moving!
You might not think of it as a physical activity, but shopping can add a lot of steps to your day. Next time you need to buy a few things, take the long way between shops, maybe doing a little window shopping on the way. Bonus points if you park your car further away from the entrance or walk to and from the shops.
22. Learn a musical instrument
Depending on the instrument, playing music can be a beneficial form of physical activity. According to 8700.com.au, playing guitar burns almost as many kilojoules as weightlifting, while playing the drums or playing in a marching band also use significant amounts of energy.
23. Slide/roll down a hill (and run back up)
Got a spare cardboard box lying around the house? Find a hill and get sliding! As well as the adrenalin rush of whooshing down the hill, you’ll burn energy when you run back up to the top. If you’re not into embracing your kid-at-heart and rolling down the hill yourself, pop your kids on a blanket, drag them down the hill, and run back up. They’ll have a ball and you’ll get your heart pumping!
Got some pent-up energy to release? Boxercise is a great cardio workout inspired by the workouts of pro-boxers. Boxercise is a great way to get fit and strong and even let out your daily frustrations, without having to actually play the contact sport.
Did you ever dream of running away to join the circus? It’s not quite a high-wire, but slacklining is about as close to tightrope walking as you can get in your own backyard. Originally created by rock climbers as a way of getting between peaks, you can rig up a slackline (made of slightly elastic webbing) between two trees or poles and wobble your way across.
Jumping on a trampoline can be a great way to relax, have some fun and do moderately strenuous activity at the same time.
If you don’t have a trampoline in the yard, you can head to a trampoline centre to have fun on Olympic-sized trampolines, long tumbling runs and even trampolines that run up the wall.
27. Fair games fun
Egg and spoon races, two-legged races, sack races, wheelbarrow races – there’s nothing like a silly race to get people competitive! If it’s been a while since you balanced an egg while running or tied your leg to someone else’s, it might be time to hold your own backyard fair.
28. Active games night
Games night doesn’t have to mean you’ll be sitting around a board game all night. Work some active games into your fun, like Twister, charades or salad bowl, or play an active video or VR game.
29. Stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking
If you’re confident around water and know how to be water-safe, stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking can be really fun ways to get some exercise. Paddling with a friend or a group can be safer and even more fun. Some people enjoy yoga on their paddle boards, but many of us have a hard enough time just standing on them! Don’t have a paddle board or kayak? There may be some available for rental in your local area.
30. Bike riding
Bikes are some of the best active fun you can have outside, and kids know it. What kid isn’t thrilled with a new set of wheels for their birthday?
If you haven’t ridden a bike since childhood, don’t worry, it’s pretty much like, well, riding a bike! Start off slow on an easy bike path, and as you grow your confidence you can graduate to heartrate raising hills or even off-road trails.