13. Dance the Night Away

Even if you have two left feet, turn on your CD player or put your iPod in its docking station and start moving. Whether it’s in your bedroom or your living room or a local club or studio, dancing is wonderful exercise. In fact, aerobics as a form of exercise began as an offshoot of jazz dance (sort of like New York City’s Rockettes). Because you move quickly and use all of your limbs, you burn a ton of calories dancing. The funny thing about dancing, too, is that all you really need is a sense of rhythm and an enjoyment of music—you can be good at it no matter what your size or shape.

14. Decide on a Dance

Here’s a list of different dance styles, their benefits, and their calorieburning count for a moderate intensity for 30 minutes. Try these dances to work your body and boost your metabolism.

Ballroom dancing: Burns 150 calories an hour. Strengthens leg, shoulder, ab, arm, back, and glute muscles; increases flexibility; improves concentration; only increases heart strength if you do fast steps, such as swing dancing

Ballet: Burns 150 calories per hour. Strengthens leg, shoulder, ab, arm, back, and glute muscles; increases flexibility; does not increase cardio power (you need concentration and stamina)

Country line dancing: Burns 125 calories an hour. Strengthens leg, shoulder, ab, arm, back, and glute muscles

Disco dancing: Burns 175 calories an hour. Strengthens leg, shoulder, ab, arm, back, and glute muscles; strengthens the heart

Salsa dancing: Burns 170 calories an hour. Strengthens leg, shoulder, ab, arm, back, and glute muscles; increases flexibility and strengthens the heart

15. Go Horseback Riding

Just imagine bundling up in a sweater and scarf on a chilly spring or fall morning and riding a horse along a beach past crashing waves or through a leafy forest glade, replete with dew-laden spiderwebs and small critters scurrying out of your path. The world looks and feels different from the back of a horse. Horseback riding seems to heighten the senses of sight, smell, and touch. Riding at full gallop requires the use of those thigh muscles and feet and hands to stay in the saddle. Mounting and dismounting also can provide a little workout. But the joy of sitting atop a horse and observing the world awakening is a bonus for doing horseback riding as an exercise.

16. Join a Bowling League

You might not know that the ancient Egyptians enjoyed a good game of bowling. Of course, their balls were stone and players at opposite ends of the lane threw their balls (a big one and a smaller one) at the same time. Today many bowling leagues are looking for a few good participants. Of course, you can bowl alone if that makes you happy, but many people believe that bowling is a game best enjoyed in the company of family or friends. Getting out for a few hours of bowling is good for shifting the constant pressures of home and work and decreasing stress levels while strengthening your friendships by engaging in pleasurable activities with your bowling partners.

17. Take Diving Lessons

You’ve dreamed of seeing coral reefs, sunken treasure ships, and the beautiful world that lies beneath the surface of the ocean. What’s keeping you from making your dream a reality? Dive shops often have dive instructors who will teach you the basics in a swimming pool. Then you’ll take day trips to the ocean or a body of water where you can put what you’ve learned to work. Divers watch out for each other and the friendships can continue long after the dive is over. Find the time, money, and the courage to go after your dreams. On the other side of achieving them, you’ll feel pleasure and gratification and have a few new friends. And you’ll lose lots of weight!

18. Coach a Children’s Sports Team

If you have children, you already know how much they love to run while playing games in the yard or at school. You can help them develop an appreciation for teamwork and good sportsmanship by coaching their team in T-ball, soccer, gymnastics, synchronized swimming, football, track and field, or other sports. Children are naturally happy and enthusiastic. Volunteer to serve as their coach and share in their joy when they play. You may discover that winning or losing really isn’t as important as how they play the game.

19. Choose an Active Vacation

Take an active vacation, with no goal other than to enjoy yourself and have fun. There are spas with a fitness focus, resorts with activities (skiing, swimming, and skating), walking vacations, biking trips, hiking treks, and far more adventurous options, such as mountain climbing, backwoods cross-country snowshoeing, kayaking, trips during which you learn to sail, and other skill-focused adventures. Whatever your choice, be sure to bring the equipment requested and the right shoes so that you’ll be comfortable and able to take part in all the activities.

20. Make Fitness Your Destination

When you plan your next vacation, consider centering it around physical activity. Build hiking or kayaking or even mountain climbing into your plans or look for an organized event you can participate in. Here are some planned events that offer the opportunity to visit new places, be active in the great outdoors, and meet new people while having fun.

• Bay to Breakers, San Francisco, California

• Bike Ride Around Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California

• Gasparilla Distance Classic, Tampa, Florida

• Peachtree Road Race, Atlanta, Georgia

• Run to the Far Side, San Francisco, California •

21. Take an Adventure Vacation

For bold travelers, there’s nothing more exciting than an adventure vacation. Not only do you get to experience a place you’ve never seen before, but you also get to challenge yourself physically and keep in shape. This type of vacation can go in many directions. Are you interested in biking? Perhaps you’d like to bike through France, stopping at hostels along the way. Do you like running in races? Why not follow a trail of 5K races all over New England in the spring? Here are some other ideas that might fulfill your adventurous whims.

• Walk the outback of Australia.

• Learn to surf in Hawaii.

• Learn to sail in the British Virgin Islands.

• Bicycle through Baja California.

• Hike to Machu Picchu.

• Helihike in British Columbia.

The important thing to remember about these trips is that they require training. Even if you’re very active, you need to train specifically for the type of trip you’re going to take. Ask the group you’re going with to advise you on ways you can get in shape to get the most out of your trip.

22. Make Any Vacation an Active One

While adventurous vacations are lots of fun and give you great memories, they can take a lot of planning and money. If you don’t have the means or the stamina for such a vacation, don’t worry! You can turn almost any vacation into a fitness vacation with just a few easy additions. The following is a list of things you should consider taking with you on your trip, although, of course, the exact list will depend on your location and activity:

• Bathing suit, towel, bathing cap, goggles

• Exercise bands

• Exercise DVDs

• iPod with downloaded workout programs

• Sneakers

• Workout clothes, including bike shorts

• Yoga mat

Finally, if you want to consider luxury with fitness, consider fitness spas! Spas used to be associated with weight loss and deprivation, but now they have accepted and embraced the knowledge that fitness is an essential part of health, weight loss, and relaxation. Spas will encourage you to hike, swim, lift weights, and do Pilates and yoga, and you can do any of these things in Arizona, Tennessee, or Provence!

23. Build a House with Habitat for Humanity

Swing a hammer, carry some lumber, and help build a home for a poor family if this appeals to your social conscience. Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org) is a nonprofit organization that works in tandem with volunteers in communities worldwide to build houses for low-income people. Former president Jimmy Carter and his wife spend a week every year swinging hammers to help erect affordable shelter for the poor on behalf of Habitat for Humanity. If you believe that you could be doing more to help the less fortunate, then grab your hammer, get out there, and work up a sweat with—and for—people like yourself.

24. Adopt and Regularly Walk a Rescued Dog

Animal shelters all over America often have more animals than they can properly care for, meaning that some animals’ lives will end there. You can make a difference by choosing to adopt a pet from a shelter. Regular exercise keeps your animal—and you!—trim, agile, limber, and mentally alert. Physical exercise improves his joint health as well. Take him to the dog park where he can play with other dogs, too, because dog experts say it is good for his socialization skills. If your dog belongs to one of the larger breeds such as a Labrador or German shepherd, leaving him in your backyard does not guarantee that he will exercise on his own. Take the time to exercise together as part of your daily routine. Whether you’re walking, jogging, or swimming together, think of it as happy bonding.

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