20 Fun Activities That Give You a Heart-Healthy Workout

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Exercise is good for your body and good for your soul. It is crucial to keep your body moving in any way possible, because that is what builds a healthy heart. Your toned thighs and sculpted arms are certainly a tremendous benefit, too, but without constant movement, your bodily systems don’t function properly.

Protecting Your Bodily Systems

The circulatory, digestive, and endocrine systems, which regulate blood transportation through your body, break down what you eat, and manage metabolism and growth, respectively. The muscular, immune and nervous systems control movement, help defend your body from diseases, and control your nerve impulses.

Your respiratory system keeps that oxygen coming in strong to your lungs and lets out carbon dioxide. Your body needs these processes to survive- as well as others. But one particular system only functions when you move: your lymphatic system.

Your lymphatic system also helps as an extra level of defense. But more importantly, it aids in circulation of proteins and nutrients. This circulation process only occurs when you move. Before any muscles are even formed, the exercises you do are like the oil to the gears inside your body. They make everything move more smoothly, and as these systems are working, hormones are being released, helping you grow and build up muscle mass. These hormones are called HGH.

HGH: Clearing the Confusion

Professional weight liftersHuman Growth Hormone is both an anabolic steroid and something that is produced naturally in your body. This hormone encourages your body to respond more quickly to its muscle development. Professional weight lifters are prone to the misuse of this hormone, but individuals who seek to increase the level of this hormone in their bodies can indeed do so naturally. The purpose of naturally increasing is to avoid all the possible negative side-effects.

The pituitary gland produces HGH in your body. Your pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain. Its purpose is to make you grow. That is why as a child, you have a much larger percentage of this hormone in your body. More hormones are needed at the time when you would be growing the most.

You could look at the pituitary gland as a sort of self-monitoring device that releases the hormone when needed. But as your body ages, your need to grow decreases and so does the amount of growth hormone that your pituitary gland lets out.

What Happens to HGH Levels in Your Body as You Age

HGH levels in your body decrease as you get older. This slow-down has prompted some individuals to ingest artificial HGH to combat aging and lack of muscle growth. Regardless of whether ingesting HGH increases muscle mass or not, there exists natural ways acquire additional muscle.

The Safe Route: Natural Ways to Raise Your HGH Levels

Your body benefits from increasing the movement of those aforementioned bodily systems.  When nutrients get distributed throughout the body, it reacts positively. When your body is receiving as much oxygen as possible, it operates more efficiently too. When your blood flows more swiftly through your circulatory system, this is when your heart pumps more powerfully too. And it is through all of these functions that then work together to keep toxins and diseases out of your body.

To encourage these systems to operate at this higher level of operation, there are activities you can do. These exercises or movements will naturally increase your HGH levels in your body:

  • Weight Train with More Intensity. When lifting weights, do so with more intensity and add in more repetitions. This will build up lactic acid in your muscles and will tell your body to increase the amount of growth hormone being released.
  • Eat Carbohydrates that you Digest more Slowly. These foods could include high fiber offerings like pears, apples and oatmeal.
  • Don’t Forget about Proper Sleep Habits. The hours that come right after you fall asleep are the important ones. It is during these that more growth hormone is released.
  • Ingesting a Few Vitamins may aid in Growth Hormone Production. Consider taking melatonin, which helps with sleep or amino acids.

exerciseHGH does have its limits. As you age, there is less need for large amounts of hormone to be released. This naturally-limiting aspect helps regulate your body’s growth and adjusts it to the appropriate size.

Now, that you have various steps to take to increase HGH naturally, the importance of heart health and exercise returns to make sure your overall health reaps the benefits from them. Recall that your bodily systems benefit from movement. Your body is unlikely to complain or to be too specific about what constitutes exercise. This is where the definition of exercise is no longer limited.

Moving Matters: What Counts as Exercise?

Exercise is a broad topic. It includes everything from walking, to running, swimming, hiking, weight lifting, jumping and so many more choices. When your body is itching to move, you need not only put on your running shoes and go out the door. There are creative ways to get you moving and ways that will likely encourage you to continue exercising.

Before the list of suggestions though, it is important to realize that exercise needs to be a part of your life- not something you do one day and then skip for weeks and then come back to. This sort of schedule or lack of schedule will yield no benefits whatsoever for your body.

Defining Healthy Exercise: Why Moving Matters

The time wasted figuring out what activities to do or whether you have time will only waste time. Many activities you probably already do on a daily basis may qualify as exercise. These activities will help your body recover from your regular exercise routines, including:

  1. Take a Walk. It sounds so simple and can provide benefits with only doing it for a relatively short amount of time. Walk for about 15 minutes at a semi-brisk pace, and you will probably go as far as a mile. Exercise done.
  1. Arrange a Hike. Many people would probably consider planning a hike to be an excellent way to get outdoors and enjoy nature. Hiking works your legs, arms, builds endurance, and can be done so for hours without necessarily feeling the effects in your body. When you go on a hike, you are likely to encounter boulders and other barriers on the trail. Leaping over them or having to step up on them means you get instant exercise plus additional bursts of energy usage.Hiking can include through the park, or through the forest. Location is not as important as the actual energy expended. Another way to increase your hike’s intensity is to wear a backpack. This added weight means your hike is now a weight-bearing exercise. If you are up for a bigger challenge than hiking horizontally, try vertically. Rock climbing can build up those arms in no time.
  1. dancingYou Should be Dancing. Putting on your favorite music will get you in the mood to move. Put on some tunes with a beat and you will find yourself moving in ways that will build muscle and strengthen your heart.You can dance away in your house or venture out and take a dancing class. There are a variety of options available that will get your body moving. The more you move the more heart healthy benefits you will receive. 
  1. Work Out Your Body and Mind with Geocaching. This involves sort of orienteering to find boxes filled with objects. The boxes are hidden by others and through clues. You need to locate them. The activity is like a treasure hunt and that can take you into forests, parks, all around.Geocaching uses GPS to find the boxes and then enters their specific code into a logbook that is found inside the box. The next person to locate the box will find the logbook as well as various trinkets left behind. It is sort of a grown up and more sophisticated hide and seek.
  1. Find a Friend. Encouragement is powerful when it comes to exercise. Finding someone else to help you get started and to continue will make the chosen activity that much more fun and that much more successful.Finding someone to do an activity with will also help you keep going because you don’t want to let them down. And hopefully, they too won’t want to let you down either. 
  1. Clean Your House. Vacuuming your house, scrubbing the bathroom, sweeping, or mopping, and other cleaning activities that require you to be up and down will burn calories and legitimately count as exercise.Make a dusting routine where you perform a quick 15-minute pick up of belongings throughout the house. If you do this every day, it will soon become a routine and one you easily maintain and continue to do. 
  1. Gardening and Digging in the Dirt. Assuming you are digging, moving soil, transplanting, moving plants, gardening can get your heart rate up or at least give you anaerobic benefit- which builds muscles up but does not build endurance.Activities like gardening can be excellent opportunities for squat-like movements. They can also be bad on your back if you lift with your back rather than your knees. It is important to remember that even though activities mentioned in this list may not be typical kinds of exercise, the same care should be taken in proper form to help prevent injury, which prevents exercise later on.
  1. Find Some Fun Frisbee Time. Throwing and catching a Frisbee uses your whole body and adding in a few other friends turn the activity into a full-fledged game. Ultimate Frisbee is still played by some and a few parks have the gear still set up. Another variation of Frisbee is playing it using many of the rules of American football.Instead of throwing a Frisbee, any ball could be substituted. Kicking a ball would also count for exercise and make the activity that much more enjoyable. Because the longer the activity goes on, the more you are likely to be enjoying it and forgetting that you are working out.
  1. hula hooping
    Photo by Eren Emre Kana / CC BY

    Go for Some Backyard or Park Activities. Take advantage of your inner child by meeting friends for a game of catch or hula hooping. You can even buy weighted hula-hoops to add additional resistance. Running through the sprinklers in your backyard is sure to be not only fun, but also heart healthy.

  1. Lose Your Chair. When working at your desk or when at home watching television, lose your chair and spend a few power minutes in a sitting position as in a stationary squat. Also, lose your chair and stand up straight and tall to do your work. This activates your abdominal muscles and helps strengthen your back muscles too.A Pilate’s ball can help you achieve some of this all-day long exercise if you switch out your usual chair for a ball. 
  1. Wrestle with Your Little Ones. If you have children, tumbling about and roughhousing are excellent ways to get your heart rate up and enjoy some additional bounding time with your kids.Besides wrestling, visiting the playground with them and running around on everything they do will certainly count as legitimate exercise too. The monkey bars builds arm muscle, balancing will tone, and you could even design an obstacle course for yourself to run through.
  1. Try Karate or Other Martial Arts. You can choose from several types of martial arts, like:
  • Kung Fu – Involves strengthening of your body and mind.
  • Muay Thai – Kickboxing, and uses fists, elbows, shins and knees.
  • Taekwondo – A combination of karate and Chinese Martial Arts.
  • Karate – Involves punching, kicking and striking objects with an open hand.
  • Capoeira – A Brazilian martial art that combines dancing and acrobatics.

Again, these are activities that could be done with friends or by yourself.

  1. Ice or Roller Skating Can Burn Calories. Ice skating is a winter activity; however, many cities have either outdoor or indoor ice skating or even roller skating opportunities. Ice-skating is a perfect activity to do instead of going on a walk. Gliding across the ice will seem so much more exciting than step after step after step.
  1. YogaSpending Extra Special Quality Time with Your Loved One. Yes, sex is exercise, whether it takes place in a bed or on a different soft surface. Either way, this activity burns calories as you build up a sweat, and get into all sorts of angles and positions.
  1. Do Yoga or Pilates While You Watch Television. We added in the television part, because although you are technically supposed to do Yoga and Pilates in a relaxing environment, sometimes those quiet peaceful moments simply are not there. And of course, watching television is a popular activity, so why not combine the two and end up enjoying your favorite show and scoring a bit of exercise. You could hold specific poses during parts of your show or during commercials.
  1. Another Snow-Based Activity. If you live where it snows, find a place to cross country ski. Cross-country skiing uses your arms, thighs and shoulders. It will also help increase your oxygen levels, too. Obviously, downhill skiing is to be included if cross-country skiing is. With downhill, your thighs gain the most benefit.Don’t forget snowshoeing, which gives you the walking benefits, but with snow-friendly contraptions that make you do a bit more work than if you were just using your feet to move.
  1. Rearrange the Furniture in Your House. Spice up your furniture design by moving some pieces around. Lifting couches, chairs, mattresses, and more will get you breathing heavily in no time. Rearranging furniture could be combined with another point on this list, which is cleaning.Spring cleaning or preparing for a garage sale is a perfect chance to slip in exercise without realizing it. Put some music on, and get busy, but be careful not to overdo it.
  1. Park Farther Out in the Parking Lot. You decide to go to the store and are trolling through the parking lot trying to find the closest spot. Make it easier on yourself and park further out and then you have given yourself a nice bit of exercise to the front door.If you are grabbing more than a few items, then you now have an arm workout too – pushing the cart or simply carrying the items you need to get, through the store and across the parking lot to your car. An additional and selfish reason to park further away is that your car is more protected by bumpers, door dings and stray carts. Your car benefits and so does your body.
  1. Wash Your Car
    Photo by BMiz / CC BY-SA

    Wash Your Car-Yourself. Taking your car to the local car wash might be simpler than dragging out the hose, sponges, soap and towels, but automatic car washes are notoriously rough on your car. They are bad for your paint because the water shoots out too hard from the hoses, and bad because they tend to miss entire patches of your car.

    But if you get all of the above materials and spray, scrub, rinse, and dry your own car, it will be cleaner and you will have just achieved a major work out. An additional unexpected workout activity to add post car washing is to wax your car – and the bigger the car, the better. It is the up and down of these activities that builds muscle mass.

  1. Jump Rope Like You Did as a Child. Jump roping is a simple activity that you can do in a limited amount of space. Fast or slow, the result is positive. It is another activity that can remind you of your childhood. Jumping in general helps develop your sense of balance. Needing to land safely and softly requires concentration and leg muscles.

Exercising: More Than Weights, Lunges and Repetitions

Exercising is a key aspect to maintaining a healthy heart. Human growth hormones are at their greatest levels when you are young. It helps your body develop muscle and grow. Increasing HGH as you age has its benefits, too. HGH helps stimulate muscle growth. Consistent sleep patterns and slowly digested carbohydrates are two ways to naturally produce HGH in your body.

But the most beneficial way to increase HGH and to maintain muscle mass, endurance, strength, and a healthy lymphatic system is to move often, all day long. Exercise keeps your bodily processes operating smoothly. When they are moving smoothly, then your body is also able to fight off diseases, which keeps you healthy.

sportsThink of these steps before exercising:

  • Decide alone or with a friend.
  • How long you want to do the activity for – you might get so into it that the time becomes inconsequential.
  • Do you want to stay at home or go outside or go further from home?
  • Start moving. The exercise-decision process need not be complicated if you stick with the most basic of questions and decisions.

Exercise should not be limited to organized sports, running or walking. Exercise is movement, plain and simple. Reducing the definition of a work out to a specific list of activities takes away from the many other things to do. Instead, it should include any and all ways that you can move your joints.

These ways can include any activities you enjoy, like hiking, ice skating, dancing, Yoga and Pilates. But other unexpected activities like house cleaning; parking further away, redecorating, and car washing are just as beneficial, so don’t rule them out, as well.

Make Exercise More Fun

A consistent aspect of these heart healthy tips is the inclusion of fun. The activity is the focus in these, not necessarily the exercise. The muscles developed and the endurance that you build up are fringe benefits. Working out is not always the most pleasant activity to do.  It is no doubt hard and tiring, but the benefits far outweigh the hardships.

The next time that you don’t feel like exercising, consider one of these suggestions to do instead. Once you get into the rhythm of these activities, you may find yourself reconsidering your previous dislike of exercise. You may find yourself discovering even more ways to give yourself a heart healthy workout.

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