As we learned in chapter 3, weight loss comes easier when you add physical activity. Many of us have plenty of excuses for our sedentary lifestyles: We work too hard, can’t afford gym memberships, have too many demands on our time, or just plain don’t like to exercise.
If you hate exercising, it’s probably because you’re not getting the right kind of exercise. Some people are perfectly happy running on a treadmill day in and day out, but there are many more who dread the monotony.
If boredom is keeping you from getting a healthy amount of cardio, mix up your routine with some fun activities. Group sports like basketball and flag softball burn far more calories per hour than a treadmill, and they’re fun and social to boot. Call up some friends, or visit your local activity center to sign up for an amateur sports league.
Swimming is another great way to burn calories. Jump in the pool and paddle around, then jog as fast as you can in the shallow end. The water provides enough resistance to kick your metabolism into high gear. If you have a local beach, brisk walking on the sand will burn more calories than walking on pavement.
Kids also provide opportunities for calorie burning. If you have a baby, contact your local stroller club to go on walks with other new parents. You can keep an eye on your little one while you get in shape. If your child is older, they will appreciate some one-on-one time spent tossing a football, shooting hoops, or just swinging and sliding at the playground. These activities help you burn calories while you bond with your child.
If you have a garden, you’ve got a calorie-burning goldmine. Lawn work, including mowing the grass and planting shrubs and saplings, is a great way to firm up and lose pounds. Weeding, pruning, picking flowers and vegetables, and laying sod are all calorie-burning activities. Spend an hour a day working on your landscaping, and you’ll soon see the results in your yard – and on the scale.
Maybe you’re an animal lover. Try walking your dog in the evening, or taking the neighbors’ dogs for a walk. Take your pet to the park for some Frisbee action. Saddle up a horse and go for a relaxing trail ride. Don’t have a pet of your own? Try volunteering at a ranch or animal shelter. Caring for and cleaning up after the animals is a rewarding act that enriches their lives and helps you stay in shape.
There are also plenty of human-based charities and foundations which can use volunteers. You could serve your community by helping build homes, stack and sort food donations, or join walks and runs to raise funds for medical research.