#Inactivity – fueled by cars and a sedentary work life – has been dubbed the biggest public health problem of the 21st century, a global pandemic with dramatic impact on peoples wellbeing. The latest reports suggest that around the world it was responsible for 5.3 million deaths in 2008 – around one in 10 – more deaths than smoking.
Not only does exercise make you fitter, it can also ward off numerous and often unexpected diseases, from heart attacks to diabetes, some forms of cancer and dementia. There are tentative signs it might even make you cleverer, by boosting cognitive performance and brain function.
Cycling—indoors or out—is non-weight bearing and low impact, so you can work up a sweat without stressing your joints. One of the beauties of cycling outdoors is that it’s so invigorating, you can easily burn lots of calories without feeling like you’re working that hard.
People see swimming as something really easy but if you’re swimming non-stop for half an hour, that is a really good and intense workout, no question,” says Easton. How much you get out of it will obviously depend on the intensity of the swim. Some strokes like front crawl are more taxing.
Based on Ashtanga Yoga, power yoga is a bigger calorie burner than most practices because you’re in near constant motion. You hold each pose for only a few breaths before flowing into the next and continue over and over so you’re pressing, pushing, balancing and lifting your body weight nearly constantly. Because you’re engaging every muscle, your heart rate stays elevated throughout the class—and you sweat, especially if the room is heated, a lot—so an hour-long class can burn up to about 300 calories, while also improving your range of motion and building full body strength and balance. This high-intensity interval yoga flow takes 18 minutes and can be done at home.
Walking is a stress-free way to get moving. If taking a leisurely stroll is too easy, there are plenty of ways to add intensity: Hit the hills or add weights (try dumbbells or ankle weights) to really get that heart rate up.
For a good cardio workout without all the pounding, science suggests signing up for a step aerobics class. Researchers found an hour of step aerobics gives you the same workout as a mid-distance run.
Now, now—golf isn’t just for the pros (or the retired). Take a trip to the fairway and get swinging. Bonus points for skipping the golf cart and walking the course!
So go and discover which way is most fascinating for you to stay fit.