• Atul Prasad

Get Sportin'

We all want to be fit, but not all of us are athletic. Hobbyist World takes a look at some great, low impact activities that will help you get into shape while being kind on your body.


Rowing, Kayaking and Canoeing



Rowing is one of the oldest Olympic sports and one of the few low-impact exercises that work for all the big muscle groups. It's great for strengthening your abs and lower back. And rowing burns more calories than cycling or running for the same amount of physical effort, says Frederick C. Hagerman, director of the Work Physiology Lab at Ohio University.


Although you can get the benefits with your gym's rowing machine, the real fun comes from getting on the water. You can buy a lightweight open-water shell and explore some nature while getting a great full-body workout.


Start out on a local lake or flat-water river and eventually, if you're feeling brave, learn to navigate faster waters. Or try some interval training — pushing hard for a minute, backing off momentarily, then pushing again.


Tai Chi



Tai chi — at least traditionally — is slow. Although it may not seem like a workout, it's a great option for those recovering from an injury. Commonly referenced as meditation in motion, tai chi can help maintain strength, flexibility and balance, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Not to mention, tai chi can help you develop a stronger mind-body connection, as much of the practice focuses on bodily sensations.


Tai chi sessions are usually structured with an easy warm-up of shoulder circles and neck stretching, which helps you begin to tune into your body. The instruction or practice varies according to the instructor but typically includes a dozen movements. Tai chi also includes "Qigong," which is several moments of gentle breathing exercises.


Hiking



Invest in a good pair of hiking boots, bring along some water and healthy snacks and get hiking. It's a great way to get some cardiovascular exercise, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Walking along uneven surfaces, especially with some added elevation, is also a great way to work your core and improve your balance.


Alongside the physical benefits, hiking is a great tool that many uses to de-stress. Not only does hiking take you away from your office or computer screen, spending time in nature can be a relaxing practice. To maximize the aerobic benefits of hiking, add changes in altitude (i.e. hills) and enough distance to give you a genuine workout.


Dance



From ballroom to belly dancing, dancing will give you a great aerobic workout. There are so many variations that you're sure to find one that suits you: Bollywood, tango, merengue, tap.

In fact, the British National Health Service recommends dance "for losing weight, maintaining strong bones, improving posture and muscle strength, increasing balance and coordination and beating stress."


While most forms of dance are perfectly safe, be cautious of the higher intensity forms like ballet or hip-hop. And don't forget to have some fun! The great thing about dancing is the pleasure it gives while you're sweating your way to fitness.


Rollerblading



Rollerblading is a great cardio exercise, especially if you're looking for a more low-impact option. Contrary to what you may believe, rollerblading can be modified to increase the challenge by bending your knees and lowering your upper body, according to A Healthier Michigan. This helps build your leg and core strength.


You can also consider doing intervals by picking up your speed for two minutes, then backing off for three. Or choose routes with a few hills. While it's an efficient means of transportation, safety is an important precaution to consider when rollerblading. Always wear protective equipment including padding and a helmet. Make yourself aware of any traffic hazards in your area, too.


Cycling



We’ve loved biking ever since we finally took off our training wheels. It just so happens to be a great way to fit in some exercise without putting as much strain on your joints.


And if you’re a commuter, we’ve got great news. A 2017 study found that cycling to work may reduce your risk of developing heart disease and cancer by 45 per cent compared to nonactive commuters. That’s some serious pedal power.


Pilates



You aren’t going to get a strong core by doing crunches all day long — try Pilates instead. Plus, you may even lose weight without putting too much strain on your joints.


A 2017 study showed that an eight-week Pilates program was enough to help participants change their body composition.


Cross-country skiing



This flat-terrain travel keeps things heated — even in the cold. So put on your skis and start pumping those poles. You’ll keep the pressure light (as powdery snow) on your body. To increase the intensity of your workout, try skiing uphill.


A 2018 study in Finland confirmed that folks who participated in cross-country skiing had a lower risk of mortality from all causes. Just another reason to go grab some skis.

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