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10 ways to get fit without the gym

Easy ways to get your 30 minutes of exercise a day


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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1. Cycling

With the proper equipment, cycling can be a great way to get toned without the gym. One of its great benefits is that it does not have to be an added part of your daily routine. If work or some shops are close enough, take the extra time to bike there. You will be killing two birds with one stone; toning those muscles and getting where you need to be. An important thing to remember when cycling is that the bike suits you; this means that the handlebars and seat are positioned properly for your body. This will reduce your risk of injury. Bikes can be expensive to buy but they are worth the investment. If you are working, it might be useful to check out the BikeToWork scheme. Find out more about cycling here.

2. Dancing

Pump up your favourite playlist and get moving! Need some instruction, but don’t want to join a class? There are plenty of dance videos available and even step-by-step tutorials on YouTube to get you moving. You need only turn on the television to see the great things dancing can do for the bod, with all those professional dance shows, but dancing is also directly linked to improving the mind! Think dancing is for you? Find out more here.

3. Swimming

Certain exercises can be taxing on the joints, but exercising in the water eliminates the impact that often causes injury. This is great news for anyone with knee problems, as the impact on land can negatively affect the knees. Swimming is a great way to tone the body because every movement is meeting the resistance of water. It is also a form of exercise that works multiple parts of the body. Swimming directly benefits endurance and heart health. You can take swimming classes, look-up tutorials to bring to the pool, or just freestyle your own swimming exercise routine. Swimming is also linked to producing endorphins that improve mental health, like anti-anxiety and depression. Don’t forget that Ireland is an island so you’re probably not living too far from the sea if you’re feeling adventurous. Read up on how to get swimming here.

4. Hiking

Hiking is a great form of exercise for people who like to spend time in the great outdoors and getting in touch with nature. Even if you shy away from bugs and dirt, there are plenty of moderate hiking trails to suit different styles. Hiking is also a great way to exercise with a friend or a group of people. Hiking benefits the heart and works the lower muscles of the body. However, hiking can also improve mental well being and be a relaxer. Just be sure to read up on the terrain to help you determine proper clothing and equipment, and remember to research safe hiking tips! If you think hiking sounds like a good option, learn more here.

5. Running

You can sign up for a 5k, a running club, or do it on your own time. Either way you do it, running tones muscle and improves heart rate. Yes, running is a fast way to shed unwanted pounds or to keep yourself fit, but it also does more than that. Running is linked to improving the immune system and benefitting the lungs. It is also a method of releasing those endorphins that make you feel happy and self-assured. Find a path that you are comfortable with or explore new routes. Start off navigating short distances and work your way to longer ones. The more you do it, the greater your stamina becomes. So don’t get discouraged if at first you can only make it a little ways down the road. If you stick to it, you may find by next week you can go twice as far. Check out some of these useful apps that track your runs and offer new routes (link).

6. Yoga

You don’t need to be flexible, a master at meditation...you don’t even need a proper mat! You can join a class or simply pull up a tutorial on the web and find a comfortable, maybe even peaceful spot in your home. Yoga is known for its benefits toward stress relief and blood pressure, but it is also a great means of toning the body. As with most exercises, it’s a good idea to start with a beginner level, or at least a level that best suits your ability; you don’t want an instructor who is folding into a pretzel when you have difficulty touching your toes! Yoga is about listening to your body, so there are always modifications to make the exercise best fit you, and while you’re at it you’ll find little by little you are increasing that flexibility. Check out our article on these types of yoga and what they involve! Need more information on yoga? Read up on it here.

7. Exercise videos/YouTube

Sometimes we want the presence of an exercising class, but don’t want to leave the comfort of our home. Thankfully there is no shortage of exercise videos of all variations and levels. Preview a video on the Internet beforehand and see if it’s something you’ll enjoy. Remember you’re more likely to stick with it if you are having fun. If buying a dvd is not an option, there are plenty of exercising tutorials available on Youtube. This way you can get the benefit of an instructor, with only your living room to witness any outlandish moves.

8. Dumbbells

More can be done with these weights than deadlifting. They can be incorporated into many aerobics exercises. However, when lifting weights, it is important to research the proper way, as lifting incorrectly can cause injury. Remember with weightlifting that you are working your way up. So there is no shame in starting with smaller weights, in fact starting with the right weight for you will be more beneficial to increasing muscle mass than choosing a weight too heavy. Want to give weight training a go? Find out how here.

9. Walking

Something many of us do everyday is actually beneficial to our health. This is an activity that can be done while catching up with a friend. That’s because walking at a swift pace where you can still manage to talk raises your heart rate. Walking is a great way to sneak exercise into our regular routine. For those distances that are close enough, throw on a comfortable pair of shoes and get your blood pumping. The key is to find those moments when walking is an alternative option. It can actually be therapeutic, and a nice way to clear your thoughts. Walking is also a great starting point for exercising. Maybe at first you can’t walk as fast as you’d like or as far, that’s okay! Like all exercises, the more you do it, the more you build up your ability.

10. Picking up a sport

This is all based on your personal preference. What do you like to do? There are plenty of sports to choose from. Organised sports can give you structure, something to look forward to, and a positive social experience. But this does not mean that just picking up a game with friends is not equally as beneficial. The point is that you are having fun while working up a sweat. GAA not your thing, try tag rugby or 5 a-side soccer. Simply kicking a football around with friends for an hour will be an easy way to get your exercise in without the commitment of joining a team.

Important tips for all forms of exercise

Whether you are at the gym, in a class, or doing it on your own, remember that hydrating is an essential part of every exercise. When properly exercising, you are working up a sweat, and those nutrients need to be replaced! Water is a major component of your muscle mass, and it also enables nutrient flow throughout your body. Dehydration places strains on your body, and prohibits the exercise from having its full effect. So, keep a bottle of that high-quality H20 handy.

Another tip to remember is to listen to your body. Just as each person’s body differs from one to the other, so should your exercising routine. Don’t be discouraged if your routine is not at the same level as your friend’s. Pushing through tiredness and sweat will help you to increase your stamina and ability, but you should not be in pain while working out. If you are taking on too much, you may be causing more harm than good for your body. This only means that you should scale down a bit, or alter your workout so that it pushes you, but doesn’t hurt you.

Useful resources

  • Check out Groupon for offers on yoga and pilates classes.
  • Visit IMRA for info on trails for hiking.
  • Run Ireland has a whole host of running events and competitions to get involved in.

The workouts, movements, and progressions provided on this website are for educational purposes only, and are not to be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product, or course of action. As with any exercise program, if at any point during your workout you begin to feel faint, dizzy, or have physical discomfort, you should stop immediately and consult a GP.

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Published September 11th, 2014
Last updated February 16th, 2017
Tags exercise fitness healthhack
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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