Category Archives: Exercise

What Are the Best Forms of Exercise for People Who Dislike Sports?

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve never been into team sports. My interest in fitness didn’t develop until adulthood because all of the physical education classes I took in school were almost exclusively focused on basketball, football, volleyball, kickball, and baseball.

Since I wasn’t an athletic or coordinated kid by any stretch of the imagination, gym class wasn’t a useful or fun experience for me. Every year we played the same sports, and every year I reconfirmed my lifelong disinterest in those forms of exercise.

I’m not going to make assumptions about why – or even if –  anyone who reads this might also dislike sports, but my reasons for feeling that way could be summed up as such:

  1. Competition does nothing to encourage me to run faster or play harder. In fact, it has the exact opposite effect on me.
  2. As someone who didn’t (and honestly still doesn’t) have great eye-hand coordination, I was injured in gym class often enough that I began to negatively associate exercise with the pain I experienced every time I got hurt even though those injuries were always pretty mild.
  3. Sports, and especially team sports, are mind-numbingly boring to me. No offence to anyone who enjoys them, but I’d seriously rather watch paint dry.

One of the nicest parts of graduating college and becoming a full-fledged adult was realizing that I’d never again have to play any type of sport or participate in other athletic competitions.

Luckily, neither of these things are required in order to stay in shape. There are many cooperative and/or solo forms of exercise out there that I won’t be able to cover all of them in this post. What I am hoping to do is give a nice overview of things someone can try if they want to improve their fitness but have no interest at all in individual or team sports of any kind.

I’ve decided to split this list into two categories. The first one can be done without the need to buy, borrow, or otherwise gain access to any special equipment other than the clothing you might need to wear during it.

The items in the second one do require some sort of equipment.

No Equipment Needed

  • Walking (without or without a dog or other furry companion).
  • Jogging
  • Walking or running up stairs
  • Bodyweight exercises
  • Dancing
  • Hiking
  • Martial arts
  • Parkour
  • Housework (scrubbing the floors or tub, etc).
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Tai Chi
  • Arm wrestling

Equipment Needed

  • Swimming
  • Horseback riding
  • Obstacle courses
  • Skateboarding
  • Weightlifting
  • Gymnastics
  • Rowing
  • Roller blading
  • Geocaching 
  • Gardening and other yard work.
  • Hula hooping
  • Canoing
  • Skipping rope
  • Trampolining
  • Orienteering 
  • Freeze tag and other active childhood games
  • Laser tag
  • Rock climbing
  • LARPing

Ultimately, the “best” options will vary from one person to the next based on your interests and current level of physical fitness, of course, but I think these lists are a great place to start. I know I’m curious to try geocaching and Tai Chi one of these days. LARPing sounds like it might be interesting, too.

Respond

Are you a competitive person? What forms of exercise do you prefer to do? What does your current workout routine look like?

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My Review of the Challenging Chair Cardio Workout

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this post is in no way intended to give out medical advice. Please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before beginning this or any other type of exercise. 

A couple of years ago, I tripped on a slippery set of stairs and sprained my ankle. Luckily, it was a pretty mild sprain that healed well with home treatments, but I remember how bored and frustrated I was with the very limited number of things I could do to burn off energy while it was healing.

This story popped into my mind when I first stumbled across the Challenging Chair Workout a few weeks ago. The vast majority of the workouts out there assume that everyone will at least be able to stand firmly on both of their feet. When such activities aren’t possible due to an injury, it’s so nice to know that there are other options for people who want to keep training to the best of their abilities while they heal.

Before I dive into my review of this workout, let me also note that there is never affiliate marketing in this or any other post on my site. I’m sharing this routine simply because I found it useful and encouraging for the times when it isn’t possible for me to do a regular workout. Hopefully, you’ll think the same thing!

If the embedded link doesn’t work, click here for an alternative link to this workout.

About the Chair Cardio Workout

The video is 27 minutes and 40 seconds long. That time includes a short warmup in the beginning and a cool down at the end, so I’d estimate that it contains about 20 minutes of actual cardio exercise and abdominal work.

You don’t need any special equipment to do this workout. As long as you have a chair, bed, or other sturdy and comfortable place to sit, you’ll be set.

My Review

I believe in being honest and descriptive when you review something. It’s always nice to read other people’s reviews of products or services when they take the time to explain specifically what it was about it that stood out to them. That is equally true for positive as well as negative feedback. Everyone has different tastes, so what was a highlight – or a dealbreaker – for one person might have a completely different connotation for someone else.

The only vaguely negative thing I have to say about this workout is subjective. It simply wasn’t challenging enough for me. I was able to do all of the moves quite well the first time they were introduced, and I had barely broken out into a sweat at all by the time it ended. If I were looking for a replacement for my regular routine while healing from an injury, I’d need to find something more vigorous for my particular needs unless I’d been out of commission for quite a while.

With that being said, this is an excellent choice for beginners or people who have not been able to exercise at all in a long time in my opinion. Everything else I say about it will be positive from this point on.

Caroline Jordan, the woman who created this workout, really knows her audience well. She reminded her viewers multiple times that it was perfectly okay to take breaks, skip certain moves, or change the way they participated for anything that was painful for them. There were several times when she gave specific suggestions on how to modify certain moves to accommodate issues with injuries or flexibility in general. That gave this workout an added layer of depth that made me want to share it with my readers even more.

I adored Caroline’s upbeat attitude. She was positive and encouraging from the beginning to the end. I especially liked the fact that she talked her audience through the faster portions of the routine. She also had all kinds of friendly tips for how to stay motivated when you feel like you’re never going to recover or worry that a certain movement is too hard to do right now.

The lack of background music was a refreshing touch as well. Unless I’m practicing a dance routine or watching a TV show while I do a workout that I’ve already memorized, I prefer silence as much as possible. It’s so much nicer to only be able to focus on the trainer’s voice while I’m trying to copy their movements.

Speaking of movements, there was a decent amount of repetition in this video. Caroline guided her viewers through all of the moves twice. I sure do like it when fitness experts do this. While this routine was a simple one, it’s always nice to try the same thing more than once while you’re getting used to it.

The balance between cardio and abdominal strengthening exercises was handled nicely. I prefer routines that offer a mixture of activities like this. They make it easier for me to remain interested in them as well as to keep going if I find a certain section challenging.

In short, I liked this workout quite a bit. It’s not something I’ll be adding to my current rotation of videos right now because of my current level of fitness, but I will be saving it for reference if or when I ever injure one of my feet again. While I hope that never happens, I’m really glad that I’ll have something to fall back on if I need to stay off of my feet for medical reasons.

Readers, have you ever sprained or broken your ankle? Have you ever done a chair workout? I’d love to hear your stories about those topics.

Health and Fitness at the Dollar Store

One of the biggest misconceptions some people have about getting fit is that it requires a significant investment of money in the beginning if you’re starting out with little to no equipment.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

A few nights ago, I took a stroll around a dollar store to see what kinds of health and fitness items they had for sale there. I jotted down everything I could find that could somehow be connected to this topic, and the list was much longer than I ever would have imagined it would be.

Seriously. I was expecting to find maybe ten things there, but I ended up finding closer to a hundred of them if every category is fully expanded to include every example in them.

This is what they had for sale there:

  • T-shirts
  • Hats
  • Sandals
  • Hair ties
  • Socks
  • Sports bras
  • Ponchos
  • Support insoles for shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Beach towels
  • Goggles
  • Bug Repellant
  • Sunscreen
  • First Aid supplies (bandaids, disinfectant, etc).
  • Plastic and metal buckets of various sizes (for transporting dirty or wet items back home)
  • Reusable plastic water bottles
  • Fishing poles
  • Headlamps
  • Small lanterns (if hiking or camping are on your to-do list)
  • Pet toys (for playing tug-of-war or fetch)
  • Pool toys
  • Toys and games for all ages/abilities (dart guns, dart boards, balls, chalk, jump ropes, etc)
  • Young children’s toys (plastic baseball bats, miniature golf clubs, etc)
  • Balloons (for water balloon fights or other similar games)
  • Beach toys (small shovels, plastic molds for making sandcastles, etc).
  • Frisbees
  • Rainbow flyers
  • Gardening tools (hand rakes, small shovels, etc).
  • Badminton rackets and balls
  • Plastic/rubber balls for other sports
  • Hula hoops
  • Sports equipment (rackets, balls, etc).
  • Yoga mats
  • Kettleballs
  • Resistance bands
  • Exercise wheels
  • Push up stands
  • Stretch bands
  • Roll out exercise wheels
  • Yoga mats
  • Yoga towels
  • Nonperishable, fairly healthy snacks (nuts, beef jerky, bottled water, canned fruit, applesauce.)
  • Many types of large reusable bags (for toting around everything on this list!)

Some of the items on this list did cost more than a dollar, but all of them were very inexpensive in general.

Whether I was planning to hike, swim, build sandcastles play any number of sports, jog, lift weights, stretch, do yoga, garden, go camping, or participate in any number of other activities, there were products for almost every type of exercise one could possibly imagine. I was seriously impressed by their selection.

Why am I recommending checking out your local dollar store if I believe in minimalism and buying quality over quantity?

There are a few reasons why this could be a smart idea under certain circumstances:

Not Everything Needs to be Well-Made in Order to be Useful

Several years ago, I bought a sun hat from the dollar store that suits my purposes perfectly when I want to exercise outdoors on a sunny day. Was it fashionable? Well, only if you’re a time traveller from 1995, but I’m not the kind of person who worries about how trendy I look when I’m working out.

Why spend $60 on something like that if you can spend $2 or $3 instead for the exact same outcome? For the kinds of activities I do, the type of hat doesn’t matter in the least. Anything that shades my face and neck from the sun will be more than adequate for my purposes.

It’s a Low-Cost Way to Try New Activities

For example, I like the idea of playing badminton. Every so often, I toy around with the thought of playing that sport as part of my fitness routine.

As mentioned above, the dollar store carries badminton equipment. While it isn’t made from high quality materials, it would be the perfect thing for me to play around with if I ever decide to finally add this sport to my list of preferred activities.

Spending a few dollars wouldn’t break the bank, and I could  go to a secondhand store or a regular store to find much sturdier equipment if I decided that this was something I wanted to play more than occasionally and my original racket broke.

Speaking of broken items….

Losing or Breaking A New Item Won’t Be So Disappointing

I’m very protective of the few possessions I have that are top-notch. Anyone who wants to borrow them has to earn my trust first, and I’d horribly disappointed if they were damaged, lost, or destroyed in an accident or through someone else’s carelessness. There are certain places that I really wouldn’t want to take those items to due to the risks of them being exposed to the water, dirt, or sand that could ruin them.

The nice thing about dollar store purchases is that you don’t stand to lose hundreds or thousands of dollars if they’re accidentally broken or lost. I wouldn’t hesitate to lend out something like a hula hoop or a pool toy I bought from the dollar store to a friend or relative.

If that item was later returned to me in pristine condition, great! If not, I’ve only lost a few dollars at most. Replacing it won’t hurt my bottom line at all, so I don’t have a problem lending it out or taking it places where the risks of something happening are higher than usual.

What’s At Your Local Dollar Store?

Assuming you live in a part of the world that has dollar stores (or pound shops/variety stores, as they’re sometimes called), what kinds of health and fitness items have you spotted there?

I’d love to compare my list with yours!

My First Outdoor Walk This Spring

My first outdoor walk this spring happened this past weekend. Since it isn’t possible to magically transport one’s readers to Toronto to experience this for themselves for half an hour, I’ll tell you exactly what it was like.

The wind had a slight cold snap to it, and I shuddered a little bit every time it blew against me.

There were still dirty patches of snow on the ground. They were especially noticeable in parts of my neighbourhood that don’t get a lot of sunlight in the average day.

The sunnier places where other snowdrifts had recently melted were now soggy puddles of cigarette butts, lost receipts, candy wrappers, and other small pieces of garbage.

A few people were bundled up in big, warm coats like it was still winter. Others had transitioned to lighter spring  jackets.

Some of the dogs were still wearing their cold-weather jackets, too.

The ground was muddy in the places where it wasn’t paved over with cement. It was brown and dull just like the bare trees and most of the bushes.

But on the Other Hand….

I live in a city, but the contrast between the sky and the ground here reminds me a little of my neighbourhood.

There was no ice on the ground at all. I could walk as quickly as I wanted to without any fear of slipping and falling.

The temperature was warmer than it’s been in months.

No one was wearing toques, gloves, or scarves. Many people who were wearing heavier coats had left them unzipped. This isn’t something that happens when it’s truly cold outside.

Some of the dogs weren’t wearing any winter coats at all.

One guy was walking down the street while wearing  running shoes, a pair of shorts, and a t-shirt. I would have been chilly if I were him, but maybe he was from a much colder climate and found 10 C balmier than people in southern Ontario do.

When the sunlight touched my face, it felt warm. It’s always a happy surprise when that happens for the first time in the spring!

There were the beginnings of so many flowers poking up from the soil that I couldn’t begin to count them all. It’s too early for the majority them to have buds yet, but their stems were looking green and healthy.

I even saw two red flowers that had already begun to bloom. They must have either been recently transplanted from a warm indoor location or be varieties that don’t require many warm days at all before they bloom.

When I looked at the trees closely, I saw tiny buds on their branches.

Some parts of the sky were brilliantly blue. Toronto can go many weeks without a single clear day during the autumn and winter, so it was a thrill to look up and not see a thick layer of grey clouds overshadowing the sun and sky. It was like the world had doubled in size overnight.

Spring has finally, truly arrived in my city. I look forward to many long walks as the weather warms up. What are you looking forward to this spring?

Why You Should Take a Minimalist Approach to Replacing Workout Gear

Consumerism is one of the biggest reasons why I’m so selective about which health and fitness sites and social media accounts I follow online.

Many of these sites are filled with pictures of people exercising with colour-coordinated outfits and gear. These photos are pretty to look at, but that approach to fitness is also completely different from the way I do it.

This is how my reasoning on the topic goes. If it isn’t missing, broken beyond repair, or otherwise in genuine need of a replacement, why bother matching anything? That doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

Exercise isn’t about looking attractive while you’re working out.  It’s about taking care of yourself and hopefully reducing your risks of many common diseases in the years to come.

Therefore, I replace my gear as it wears out or as I find myself growing strong enough to need, say, a heavier set of hand weights.

It Saves Money and Time

The average store is designed to be as enticing as possible, an this is even more true for stores that are part of a chain or that are run by people who have a lot of experience in marketing . Everything from the background music to the lighting to how the products for sale are displayed is carefully calibrated to squeeze as much money out of the customer base as is possible.

Even people like me who deeply dislike shopping can be swayed by this kind of marketing. While not every impulse purchase is going to turn out to be something that you regret making, you can avoid spending more than you intended to in the first place by only shopping when you genuinely need something and by condensing your trips as much as possible.

Shopping also sucks up a lot of time because it was designed to work that way. There are many stores out there that routinely change where they keep specific items in order to get their customers to look around for a while before they find what they needed. Hopefully, their thinking goes, you’ll find something interesting that you weren’t planning to purchase and add it to your cart while you’re trying to find that one thing you were actually planning to buy.

The best way to win this game is to avoid playing it in the first place.

It Demonstrates Why Quality Is More Important Than Quality

One of the other biggest reasons why I don’t replace my exercise gear regularly is that I do my best to pick the highest quality items I can afford the first time I buy them.

For example, there is a store in my neighbourhood that often has sports bras on sale for $10 or $15. Will they work okay in the short term? Yes, they’d be fine as a short-term solution. With that being said, they’re made of incredibly flimsy material. If I bought one of them it would almost certainly wear out and need to be replaced in six months.

The sports bra I ended up buying three or four years ago cost about $60. It’s barely shown any wear since then, though, and I expect to get several more years of use out of it before I need to begin thinking about replacing it.

Let’s be generous and assume that all of those inexpensive sports bras lasted a full six months each. After ten years, I will have spent between $200 and $300 on them.That doesn’t include the time needed to repair them or to replace them when they finally fell apart.

In the same time frame, I would have spent $120 on the more durable bras. I would have only needed to gone shopping for one replacement in that decade, and I probably wouldn’t have had to spend any time repairing ripped seams or other issues in the meantime.

It’s Environmentally Friendly

Photo credit: Nadine3103.

Buying inexpensive gear doesn’t only hurt your bottom line over the longterm, it also hurts the environment. Reusing and recycling are important steps in the process, but reducing what you consume in the first place is even better.

Why throw away ten used sports bras over a decade if you can toss out one instead? This might not seem like a huge deal when you’re looking at the purchasing decisions of one single person, but it has a dramatic effect on how well our renewable and non-renewable resources are managed when you look at the decisions made by a large group of people.

Every little bit helps.

Incidentally, I am in no way intending to embarrass anyone who can’t afford to pay more upfront in order to save money and renewable resources in the future. Shopping at secondhand stores or swapping with a friend are both excellent ways to cut down on the expense of exercise gear and help the environment at the same time. Do what you can when you can, and don’t worry about the rest if your finances are tight.

It Encourages Problem Solving

Not every problem needs to be or should be solved with money.

When I get the urge to buy something that isn’t a basic necessity like food, I sit with that urge for a while and take note of how often I wish I had bought it.

For example, several years ago I found this plastic reusable water container that could be folded up and put into your pocket when it’s empty. It was nifty.

I came very close to buying it that day, but I decided to keep track of my thoughts about it as I was out and about over the next several months to see how regularly I might have used it.

How often did I wish I had a water bottle when there were no drinking fountains nearby? Well, it turned out that this mostly happened on hot, humid summer days. I can only think of a handful of situations when that device would have been handy to have because of how much I avoid spending a lot of time outdoors during a heat wave. Becoming more familiar with where all of the water fountains near my neighbourhood were located solved 80% of my problem, and always drinking a big glass of water before heading out on those days solved the other 20%.

If I were someone who spent a lot of time far away from public drinking fountains or other sources of free water in the summer, my answer to this question would have been completely different. Due to my current habits, this isn’t a worthwhile purchase for me for the time being. I am keeping that bottle tucked away in the back of my mind if this ever changes, though. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

I would have eventually figured this out if I bought it on a whim, but I’m glad that I didn’t have to learn that lesson that way.

Respond

How often do you replace your workout equipment and clothes? How much, if at all, does it matter to you that they all match? What’s your philosophy on this topic in general?

What I Missed the Most About Working Out

Its’s been a long time since my last workout thanks to a stubborn cold I caught weeks ago that only now seems to have faded away for good. There are many other things in this world I can sit patiently through:  obscure jokes I don’t understand; long lines at Service Canada when I need to… Read More

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