Workout Tip #4: Work Out Without Working Out

Sometimes you don’t have to “work out” to get a work out. In fact, some of the best fitness moments I can remember were times when I got lost in the fun and had a great workout to boot. I remember in high school playing pickup basketball for hours with friends. We played aggressive and rarely stopped for breaks. The sheer fun and competition were excellent and I burned more calories in those 2-3 (sometimes 4) hours than I would have in a gym. And, the experience was much more memorable.

Last week, I watched this principle in action when I went to Cedar Point with my school. I walked around a huge amusement park in hot weather, logging nearly 17.000 steps on my pedometer! I was way too tired to go to the gym afterward or even move really! Yet, I didn’t need to because it was an incredible workout and also incredible fun. I also got paid since I was technically working! Not bad.

So, find those ways to work out without really “working out.” They’ll make you fitter, healthier, and happier.

Workout Tip #1: Do What Works

I used to think that running, especially over long distances, was the measure of a person’s athletic and fitness abilities. I’m not sure why exactly, perhaps because it seemed that good runners looked athletic. So, I would force myself to run and get bored out of my mind. Then, I’d quit running. And since running was exercise, I also quit exercise.

From a logical perspective this is called “fallacious” thinking, specifically a “straw man” argument. I setup running in my mind as the only proper exercise and when I couldn’t run, I thus, couldn’t exercise. It was silly thinking, but it truly hindered my exercise. I had to create a “clean slate” with exercise and working out and you may have to as well.

First, exercise is simply burning calories. Granted, it can be intense, moderate, or weak, but burning calories is burning calories. So, while you may burn more calories playing an intense game of squash than walking for thirty minutes, if you hate squash and don’t play it, the 100 calories you burn from walking is better than the 0 calories you burn from not playing squash (even if those who do play squash would burn 400 calories in the same amount of time).

Second, remember your age. Just because you were a basketball stud in high school doesn’t mean you need to run out and join the nearest pickup game at age 48. While that may be an excellent way to get in shape, it may also be an excellent way to get so sore the next day that you give up exercising for another 30 years. Basically, you may need to reinvent what exercise means for you. I say “may” because perhaps you can exercise the way you used to. Most of us probably can’t; if anything we don’t have time for 3 hour practices 5 days a week with games on the off days.

Finally, and related to one and two, keep an open mind. Trying new exercises will keep your routines more interesting and you’ll stop your muscles from getting used to the same old stuff (this is a good thing, btw). Plus, you may find something you actually love to do. For example, I never knew how relaxing and and exhilarating cross country skiing could be until I tried it.

Today, I actually enjoy running, at least outdoors (treadmills still bore me to tears). I admire those hardcore runners, but realize that I don’t need to be one myself.

Basketball

I haven’t been much of a basketball player over the years. Even though I played football and some baseball in high school, I stopped playing basketball formally in 6th grade. However, I am currently good friends with our basketball coach, and I do athletic administrative work for the school, so I was asked to play basketball with the kids during the off-season. Reluctantly, I agreed. I say “reluctantly” because I really hadn’t played in years, except perhaps playing with friends in high school, and I tend to avoid situations in which I know I’ll make a fool of myself!

I have really enjoyed it though. It is very good exercise, and I have been getting in really good shape as I lose the last few pounds I started to lose a year ago. I have taken off about 10 pounds in the last 2 months, and that has really helped me get down the court faster than I did in the spring (when I started playing again), even though I wasn’t obese then by any means. I love keeping up with the kids. My skills aren’t the greatest (although they are really improving), but the kids know that this 30-year old will be keeping up with them the whole time. I am not the tallest guy, but I love defense, especially getting rebounds. The competition keeps me going a lot longer than if I were just running by myself. I have come to really appreciate the value of sports. I have never had a low opinion of them, but seeing improvements in myself and our basketball players makes me appreciate the hard work that goes into making it work.