Government guidelines recommend that we should do at least two and a half hours of moderate activity a week. But getting fit doesn’t always have to mean going to the gym, or going on a major health drive. There are plenty of fun, and even unconventional ways that can help you to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity in each day – it’s just about finding something that suits you.
With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a list of 10 creative ways that you can get fit and have fun at the same time.
1. Try a barre class
Barre classes are inspired by ballet, but you don’t need any ballet experience to take part. They also use elements of yoga, pilates, and strength training. These low-impact classes are designed to strengthen your muscles (throughout your whole body, but especially your core, glutes and legs), and improve your posture.
Barre classes are so called because they usually feature a ballet barre or a chair (if you’re at home), which you can use to support you during many of the moves performed throughout the class. These moves will be slow and controlled, and will require you to hold your body still while you contract specific muscles, until you start to feel the burn!
You can do barre classes from home, as there are plenty of online classes available. The Royal Academy of Dance have a series of beginner barre classes for over 55s on their YouTube channel. You can watch the first lesson here…
There are also plenty of barre classes available at local gyms, community and leisure centres – so it’s worth getting in touch with yours to find out which barre classes might be available to you.
2. Hunt for treasure
If you’re keen to get outside and get moving, then consider going geocaching. In a nutshell, geocaching is an outdoor activity that will allow you to hunt for treasure using GPS coordinates on your phone. A typical geocache container will be waterproof and contain a pencil and logbook for you to sign and date to prove that you found it, before returning it to its original location for other’s to find. Some geocaches have the addition of small trinkets, which you can trade for some of your own.
There are millions of geocaches around the world, and there could be thousands in your local area just waiting to be found. The reason that geocaching has become so popular is because it’s a secret adventure that connects people everywhere. There’s something very exciting about unearthing a mystery container that only geocachers will know about, and seeing how many other people have also been at that location. Geocaching can also give purpose and direction to your walks, and motivate you to increase your mileage. There are no limits on how far you can travel to search for your next cache – it’s completely up to you.
If you’d be interested in giving geocaching a go then all you need to do is download the free geocaching app and use it to navigate to caches nearby. Who knows what you could find…
3. Take your dog to a meetup event
While it can be fun to walk your dog solo and spend some one-on-one time together, dog walking can also be a great time to socialise. There are plenty of dog playgroups and meetup groups out there, where dog owners come together at fixed times to take their dogs on long walks. The dogs play, while you chat – and before you know it you’ve walked miles without even realising it. Dogs are naturally pack animals who thrive on interaction with other dogs and people, so a meet up in the woods can be just as stimulating for them as it is for you. Plus, with all that playing, they’ll probably get much more exercise than they would on a solo walk, and it can be lovely to see your dog having so much fun with new friends!
If you’re keen to find a canine meetup group near you, then it’s worth having a look on meetup.com. There are also plenty of meetup groups on Facebook that you might be interested in joining – it’s just a case of finding one near you. If you want to get fit, make some friends and have your dog love you furever, then why not get in touch with a couple of groups today?
4. Dance at home like no one’s watching
One of the best things about dancing at home on your own – like no one’s watching – is that you will be able to let all your inhibitions go and completely let loose. There are very few of us who can resist turning the volume up and moving to our favourite songs, whether we consider ourselves to be good dancers or not! So why not create your own feel good playlist that you know will always get you up on your feet? That way, whenever you feel that you need to get moving you can turn it on and get lost in the music. You can burn 200-400 calories during just 30 minutes of continuous dancing, and you might be surprised at how quickly the time passes.
If going freestyle isn’t your thing, then you could also try doing an online dance class at home. YouTube is full of free lessons, and there’s a dance style and level to suit everyone. If you want something that will really raise your heart rate but that doesn’t focus too much on technicality, then it’s worth trying something like latin-inspired Zumba Gold or African dance, which can be easy to follow. Or if you want to spend time learning some of the more technical aspects of different styles of dance, you could give belly dancing, salsa or ballet a try. For further inspiration on where to start, you might like to have a read of our article 11 online dance classes for beginners.
Try an African dance workout with Kukuwa
5. Spice up your walk
If you’ve become bored of your regular walk, then consider spicing it up by doing something a bit different – like going for a mindful walk, or a photowalk. Or, planning a walk to somewhere completely new that you’ve never been to before. You might be amazed at how even simple tricks like turning a regular back and forth route into a circular route can help make it feel more satisfying.
Mindful walks are helpful for relieving stress and anxiety because they bring you back to the present moment, by encouraging you to notice the sights, smells and sounds around you as much as possible. So many of us walk around thinking about other things and paying little attention to what’s happening around us – but there’s plenty to take in if we look for it. For example the dog playing happily with his stick in the park, or the smell of freshly baked bread as you walk near your local supermarket or bakery. It can be surprising how much you notice when you really immerse yourself in your surroundings. If you’d like some guidance on your mindful walk then you could try listening to a 10 minute walking meditation on the Mindful website, or downloading the walking meditation on the Headspace app – which offers a two week free trial.
Taking your camera for a walk can also be a helpful way to make your walks more enjoyable. Photowalks, like mindful walking, encourage you to take a closer look at what’s going on around you, and you may find that your creativity really starts to flow when you’re exposed to changing scenery and surroundings. You can take photos of anything at all that inspires you – from two seagulls squabbling over a piece of bread, to a dandelion swaying gently in the wind. Hopefully you’ll return home with a sense of achievement and a few positive memories. If you’re interested, you might like to have a read of our beginner’s guide to photography or our article 8 fun photography projects.
Finding a new route
If you’re bored with your walking route, then chances are, you probably won’t feel very motivated to head outside – which is why it’s a good idea to plan new routes, in preparation for new walking or hiking adventures. It’s difficult to feel bored when you’re in new territory, and you may be more compelled to walk further when you’re in explorer mode.
AllTrails is a useful app, which can help you find new walking and hiking routes with beautiful scenery across the UK. Simply download the app and enter your postcode or the name of your city and you could be exploring with confidence in no time.
6. Learn to hula hoop
We often associate hula hooping with our childhood days, but it’s a fantastic way to improve your strength and balance at any age. Studies show that on average hula hooping burns 7 calories a minute (that’s 210 calories in a 30 minute session!), while strengthening and toning your abdominal, hip, thigh, glute and leg muscles. Hula Hooping has become increasingly popular, so much so that every year on the 5th October, hoopers across the globe celebrate World Hoop Day. Hula Hooping celebrities include Catherine Zeta Jones, Michelle Obama and Grace Jones.
Often the trickiest part of learning to hula hoop is of course learning how to get your hoop to stay up, as you rotate it around your waist. While there is some technique involved here, hula hooping does require a fair bit of practice to start with. You will also need to make sure that you purchase the right size hula hoop, because this can also influence whether it stays up or not. This helpful Youtube video can talk you through how to find the right hoop for you. If you really want to challenge yourself, then you could consider buying a weighted (1-2kg) hula hoop for extra exercise. Surprisingly, weighted hoops are also easier to keep in the air! Once you’ve got a better idea about what hoop size you need, it’s worth having a look at the selection of hoops available on Amazon.
After you’ve chosen your hoop, the next step is to get that hip action going. The video below will show you how you can get started!
7. Set yourself a 30-day fitness challenge
We often feel more motivated to exercise when we are able to see that we’re making progress – which is why a daily fitness challenge can be a fun way to get moving. Most fitness challenges are split over 30 days, and are designed so that you can work on increasing your strength and fitness a little bit each day. It can be helpful to keep a journal during this time to document any mental or physical changes to your health. You could also ask a friend to join in, so that you can encourage and motivate one another.
Examples of 30-day fitness challenges include the plank challenge, which is brilliant for strengthening the muscles in your core. Weightwatchers have a 30-day plank challenge which you can download here. Another one is the 30-day step challenge, which will help you to gradually increase your steps. Try this one from MyFitnessPal here or consider doing a step challenge to raise money for charity. For example, you could sign up to Cancer Research’s Walk All Over Cancer challenge, where you walk 10,000 steps everyday for a month, or the Diabetes UK One Million Step challenge where you will aim to walk one million steps over three months.
Fitness challenges are a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zone and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end. Many people also find them to be helpful tools for getting started with exercise because once the 30 days is over, the hope is that you’ll be happy enough with your progress that you’ll want to carry on.
8. Do some DIY, gardening or deep cleaning
While deep cleaning or DIY might not be everyone’s idea of fun, it can be an incredibly satisfying way to burn lots of calories without thinking about it. The majority of us do daily chores anyway such as washing up or cooking – but it is usually those that we do during a deeper clean or DIY jobs that tend to work us harder. This could include activities like painting the ceiling, decluttering and dusting, or cleaning the oven, which you might find some inspiration for in our spring cleaning article.
It could also include gardening jobs like clearing a flower bed which has become overrun with weeds. Activities like these (that require a level of lifting, stretching and repetitive movements like pushing and pulling) can help you to work on your balance, strength and flexibility, whilst lifting your mood and helping you to maintain a healthy weight.
Interestingly, you can burn 376 calories by pushing a lawn mower around for an hour! Or if you don’t have a garden, then you can still burn 176 calories per hour doing jobs like dusting and hanging up clothes, or 352 calories in two hours doing some window cleaning. There’s never been a better excuse to dig out your mop, duster or garden spade! And it’s an added bonus that you’ll have a squeaky clean house, or happier garden at the end of it. You can find more gardening inspiration in the home and garden section of our site.
9. Try a boxing inspired workout
Boxing for fun and fitness is a great way to release any tension and frustrations that have been building up. If you’re looking for a workout that will make you feel empowered and in full control of your mind and body, then this is it. With every jab, hook or uppercut, your problems get smaller, as you grow in strength and confidence.
The punches thrown during a boxing inspired workout strengthen your arms and shoulders, while boxing stance can help to strengthen your core, back and legs. Boxing workouts are also helpful if you want to work on your balance and coordination.
While there are plenty of boxing inspired workouts out there that can enable you to have fun and get fit, there are also plenty of testimonials from people over 50 who have either taken up or are still boxing later in life. Have a read of this one from Marion Dunn or watch this one from Alan Roberts.
If you’re interested in boxing for fun and fitness, then it’s worth browsing YouTube, and choosing a boxing workout that suits you. Have a look at this one from Billy Blanks as an example.
Some gyms also run boxing inspired fitness classes for older adults, so it’s worth checking in with yours to see what might be available to you.
10. Take to the water in a kayak
For those that would prefer to get out on the water, kayaking can be an attractive option. As you paddle your way across lakes or seas, you will not only get a full body workout – you’ll also get to soak up the natural peace and beauty of your surroundings. Some people prefer to kayak alone and clear their head, whilst others prefer to take lessons or be part of a kayaking community.
If you’re looking for some guidance on kayaking, then it’s best to get in touch with your local kayaking centre who can offer you some helpful pointers on getting started, or the chance to hire all the kayaking equipment you need. If you feel confident going it alone, and you plan to kayak on inland waterways like rivers and canals, then make sure you apply for a licence (lakes are fine to kayak on freely). You can find out more about licencing on the Canal and River Trust website here.
Whether you want to take a relaxing paddle through calm lake waters, or you’re a bit of a thrillseeker who’d prefer to navigate rougher waters during white water kayaking – there’s something for everyone. Once you’ve got all your equipment and a clearer idea about what sort of kayaking adventure might be right for you, it’s worth checking out some of the best kayaking routes in the UK, here. Just be sure to follow all the sensible safety recommendations if you’re a beginner.
One of the main reasons that we might avoid exercise is because it feels like too much of a chore. But exercise can be fun, and it is really easy to get your heart rate up or your muscles working without watching the clock, or consciously thinking about the fact that you’re exercising.
We hope that the ideas above will help you to start thinking creatively about the different ways you could incorporate more activity into your daily routine. Once you find something that you enjoy and can have fun with, it’s much more likely that you’ll stick at it and become happier and healthier as a result.
If you’re considering other ways to get more active, you might want to take a look at some of our other fitness-related articles…
Have you tried any of these ways to get fit and have fun? Or do you have any additional ideas that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you! Join the discussion on the health section of the Rest Less community forum, or leave a comment below.