11. Try Different Options Until You Find One That Fits

Exercise is a broad term. Just about anybody can find some kind of exercise they actually enjoy. Maybe joining a gym is the answer for you—all those classes, all that equipment, the sauna and spa to relax you afterwards, even child care! Maybe you need something more tranquil than high-impact aerobics, and you’ll find new inspiration in a yoga class. Maybe you just need to get out into the fresh air and take a walk. Even if you find something you can only, at best, tolerate, try it for a while. Expand your fitness horizons and keep an open mind.

12. Get Outside and Move

Walking is great. It’s easy, fun, and can get you out in the fresh air or can provide an opportunity for socializing with friends while you all shape up together. Walk at a brisk pace for thirty to sixty minutes at least three times each week, and preferably five to six times per week. If you feel particularly inspired by great views, fresh air, and the lovely and varied smells of the natural world, choosing an outdoor exercise can inspire you to keep up the habit. Whether you walk, jog, run, bicycle, roller blade, cross-country ski, hike, or climb mountains, exercising outdoors is good for your body and soul.

13. Play Sports

Team sports can be an excellent way to get exercise and a social life at the same time. Weekend football games, tennis leagues, racquetball tournaments, playground basketball games, beach volleyball, or whatever else is available in your area and interesting to you can be so much fun that you’ll forget you’re exercising! Swimming is another great sport to consider. Swimming is great for people who love the water, people with joint or orthopedic problems, and people who have a lot of weight to lose. The water buoys the body so that joints, bones, and muscles don’t feel the impact of exercise, making injuries less likely for people who are vulnerable to the impact. Work up gradually to thirty to sixty minutes of steady swimming. Varying your strokes—freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, sidestroke—will help work all your muscles. Water aerobics is very popular and fun, too, and it can be tailored to any fitness level.

14. Join a Gym

A gym provides fellowship, a wide range of fitness possibilities from aerobics classes (step aerobics, cardio funk, kickboxing, and many other types of aerobics are offered these days) to yoga to racquetball to swimming to weight lifting to the latest in exercise machines, from high-tech treadmills to no-impact elliptical trainers. In many clubs, you can also find personal trainers, nutritionists, sports leagues, and child care, as well as other amenities such as massage therapists, saunas, spas, steam rooms, and snack bars filled with healthy fare.

Plus, if you’ve paid for a membership, you might be more inspired to get your money’s worth.

15. Breathe and Stretch with Yoga

Yoga is an ancient Indian method of exercise designed to “yoke” body and mind. Yoga involves specific postures, breathing exercise, and meditation. Hatha yoga, most popular in the West, consists primarily of the postures and breathing exercises. Yoga is an excellent fitness activity on its own and also makes the perfect complement to other fitness activities because it increases strength, flexibility, circulation, posture, and overall body condition. Yoga is great both for people who have a hard time slowing down, and for people who have a hard time engaging in high-impact or fast-paced exercise. Yoga is among the more perfect stress management exercises. Its original purpose was to gain control over the body and bring it into a state of balance in order to free the mind for spiritual contemplation. Yoga can help you to master your body so that it doesn’t master you.

16. Strengthen Your Core with Pilates

Pilates is an increasingly popular core-strengthening routine that uses either special machinery or a simple mat. Pilates concentrates on strengthening and gaining control over the body’s core, or the torso, especially the abdominal and back muscles. Many fitness centers and certified individuals offer Pilates classes. The exercises are part yoga, part gymnastics, and part ballet. Because Pilates have become so popular, classes and even do-it-yourself Pilates books are widely available. However, nothing beats the expertise of a certified Pilates instructor to help you get the exercises right.

17. Flow with Tai Chi

Tai chi and its precursor, Qigong, are ancient Chinese Taoist martial arts forms that have evolved to fit the twenty-first century. Rarely used today as a method of defense, tai chi consists of a series of slow, graceful movements in concert with the breath designed to free internal energy and keep it flowing through the body, uniting body and mind, promoting good health and relaxation. Tai chi is sometimes called a moving meditation. Qigong involves specific movements and postures as well as other health-maintenance procedures such as massage and meditation to maintain and improve overall health and balance the body’s internal energy (called “chi” in China).

18. Get Out on the Dance Floor

Whether you take an organized class—ballet, jazz, tap, ballroom dancing, swing dancing, country dancing, square dancing, and Irish dancing, to name a few—or go out dancing with your friends every weekend, dancing is great cardiovascular exercise and also a lot of fun. Something about music makes exercise seem less like exercise, and dancing, especially for fun, even alone in your house with the music blaring, is about as “unexercise-like” as you can get, but with all the benefits. Vigorous dancing can also be an excellent way to relieve tension and anxiety. So, get up and shake it!

19. Mix It Up

Try a different kind of activity once a week. Also, varying your pace can add up to increased health benefits. Author and exercise physiologist Greg Landry, M.S., suggests interval training, a simple way to vary any exercise you’re already doing. Landry suggests warming up for five minutes, then exercising at your regular pace for four minutes, then stepping up the pace for one minute. Then, for the rest of your workout, work four minutes at a regular pace, then one minute at a fast pace, and so forth. Interval training can help you to break past a weight loss plateau, help get you in shape faster, increase your energy and your body’s rate of calorie burning by raising your base metabolism rate, and keep your workout more interesting.

20. Pump Some Iron

Weight lifting isn’t exactly aerobic activity, but it’s an important part of any fitness routine. Lifting weights is great for any adult. It builds bone mass and can reverse osteoporosis. It increases muscle tone and helps your body to burn more calories because the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn during the aerobic portion of your workout. Stronger muscles means everyday efforts, from lifting grocery bags and small children to carrying that box of office supplies into the supply room, are easier. You’ll feel better, your posture will improve, and your body will look firmer and shapelier.

21. Don’t Overdo It

Lift weights no more than every other day (or every day, but alternating which muscles you work). If you strain your muscles too much, you could end up with a serious and painful injury. To find a good plan, talk to your health club trainer, find a good book on weight lifting that addresses your personal goals (toning or building), or subscribe to a magazine, such as Shape, that keeps track of the latest news and research on weight lifting and provides different routines with detailed explanations on technique and benefits.

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