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Summertime workouts don’t have to stressful, excessive, or mundane. As the weather warms up, we all have a few friends who want to hit up a “bootcamp” workout at the local park — and you should totally check it out! Your glutes will thank you! Or hate you. It’s unclear. — but summer is also a time to kick back, soak up the sunshine, and have a good time.

There is no reason you can’t have the best of both worlds: a glute-busting workout and fun. Whether you’ve signed up for bootcamp classes with your bestie or enjoy a regular temperature-controlled workout at the gym, we hope you mix it up this summer with one of these fun fitness activities.

Fun Summer Fitness: 9 Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Work

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Gently down the stream? Ocean? Lake? River? Doesn’t matter. The season is right for rowing and unlike that noisy machine at the gym, this workout will come with a killer waterfront view. Check online for a rowing club that offers classes or rentals. You can often buy packages for the summer in bulk to save.

    1. Paddle boarding: The main muscle groups activated are your back muscles, shoulders, arms, and abs. Burn 305 – 430 calories by leisurely paddling for an hour.
    2. Rowing (crew): Biceps, back muscles, and your abdominals are activated, while your glutes and quads continually contract. Rowing at a moderate pace for 30 minutes will burn around 210 calories.
    3. Kayaking: Muscles being trained while kayaking are the obliques, lats, and triceps. One hour of leisurely kayaking will burn around 285 calories.

 

Hit the Court

Even if you haven’t played basketball since gym class in middle school, a super fun way to burn calories and hang out with friends is by playing a game. Volleyball, basketball, tennis, soccer — so many options to choose from. Another fun idea is to join a social league, which will often include sports like kickball, touch football, and ultimate frisbee to keep it light and fun.

    1. Basketball: Apart from running, the major muscle groups used when playing basketball are in your upper body: shoulder, chest, biceps and triceps. Even if you’re not taking yourself seriously, you’ll burn around 200 calories in 30 minutes.
    2. Beach Volleyball: The primary muscles activated are your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors (for those explosive jumps!). The average person will burn around 355 calories playing volleyball in the sand.
    3. Kickball: This childhood favorite will engage your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes in addition to strengthening your core, hip, and foot muscles when you run in short bursts. Kickball will burn around 180 calories in 30 minutes of play.

 

Splish Splash

Summer is the time to get in the water! Whether you’re going to the beach, lake, or a public pool, you’ll be taking advantage of a sneaky cardio workout while you work on your tan. Water provides instant resistance training and is easier on your joints than fitness activities like running.

    1. Swimming Laps: The primary muscles used when swimming laps are the inner forearm, biceps, pecs, lats, groin, glutes, and calves. You will burn around 200 calories while swimming at a slow pace for 30 minutes.
    2. Water Volleyball: Just like volleyball on land, you will primarily be using your leg muscles such as your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors. You will burn around 200 calories while playing volleyball in the water for one hour.
    3. Water Aerobics: Water aerobics could be a full body workout depending on the class. This fitness activity is low to no impact, provides a great cardio workout, strength and flexibility training. If you’re taking it slow you can still burn 145 calories in 30 minutes. More vigorous classes will having you burning 380 calories in 30 minutes.

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We all know that regular exercise has great benefits to offer for the body. There are many ailments including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and others that can be kept at bay with a good fitness regimen or at least controlled by one. But, not many of us are aware that exercising is equally important for mental health too. In fact, just like we feel more energized and active physically when we exercise, our brain functions are also given impetus by structured fitness activities.

The link between fitness and mental agility was clearly underlined by neuropsychiatrist John Ratey1, from the Harvard Medical School, whose research has shown that fitness levels impact cognitive abilities quite significantly. In childhood, proper, adequate physical activity boosts the brain’s ability to deal with the changing body and intellect as the individual matures. In advanced age, fitness plays a key role in keeping mental health problems like dementia away.

An interesting paper published by cognitive psychologist Arthur Kramer, University of Illinois, highlights how adults unaccustomed to exercise were able to improve cognitive skills after undertaking an aerobic fitness plan for a period of half and year. Of course, this also goes to show that the benefits are seen only when the individual follows a structured exercise routine and sticks to this on a regular basis.

Consistency is the key

Neurologist Dr. Scott Mc Ginnis finds it ‘exciting’ that regular exercise, when done for at least six months, has some clear positive impact to show in the brain function of individuals. He says that both the prefrontal cortex and the medial temporal cortex of the brain are greater in volume in those who have a regular fitness program than those who do not exercise consistently2. These being the parts of the brain that manage memory and thought processes, it is clear that many age related mental health issues can be avoided or controlled merely by exercising moderately but consistently.

The best forms of exercise

Researchers believe that almost any form of exercise, not necessarily highly strenuous, is good for physical and mental well- being. In particular, aerobic exercise forms, which gets your heart beat up and your blood pumping are very effective indeed. However, for those who cannot manage aerobics yet, simpler, easier exercises like swimming or walking, offer benefits too, as long as the individual is committed to doing them every day.

A Journal of Aging Research publication3 has underlined the importance of physical exercise as an effective ‘non-pharmaceutical intervention’ that can keep the neurodegenerative diseases that come with age, at bay. So start exercising today and make sure you always make time for it so that you can live a long, healthy, physically and mentally active life.

Sources:

1: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/studies-show-the-long-term-positive-effects-of-fitness-on-cognitive-abilities/2013/12/06/b2a0bff4-5162-11e3-9fe0-fd2ca728e67c_story.html

2: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

3: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3786463/