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5 Activities That Are a Great Workout Without Feeling Like it

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We all know we need to move more, but many struggle to maintain a workout routine. What if you found activities you loved to do but did not feel like you were working out? There is a way to hit your movement goals and have fun. Here are five activities that are a great workout without feeling like it.

What makes a great workout?

We all know that we should be working out a minimum of 150 minutes a week to receive the health benefits of exercise. What people may not realize is that there is no one size fits all approach to working out. A great workout incorporates large muscle groups and revs up your heart rate. In addition, it’s important to work the core by engaging the trunk without support, improving balance, and adding resistance to build strength. Many of these activities incorporate all of the elements of a great workout.


Hiking can be perfect if you enjoy being outside in nature and exploring new areas. You are incorporating walking, which is a great low-impact activity to get your heart rate up, and you are supporting your mental health by being out in nature. You can even add resistance by carrying some weight on your back to strengthen your legs. In addition, hiking is excellent for core stabilization and balance.

One study found that hiking burns more calories than walking or running because people want to spend more time in nature. It’s a more pleasurable experience, and you do not realize you’re doing physical activity. So, grab a friend and head outside for an easy way to increase your activity levels.


Gardening incorporates many fitness benefits, including core stabilization, balance, and aerobic exercise. You are crouching, raking, digging, and weeding. To feel the exercise benefits of gardening, it has to be more active movements. Gardening can burn 100 calories in 15 minutes! In addition to the physical activity element, it has excellent health benefits. According to a study published in 2019, gardening for four hours a week helped reduce the risk of dementia by 56%. If you are going to be outside for long hours, make sure you wear your sunscreen!


Do you ever just dance the night away for hours without thinking about it? Put on some music you love, and get moving because dancing is an excellent form of cardio. Thirty minutes of dancing can burn up to 200 calories, just as much as jogging! It has brain-boosting benefits as well. Dancing does not have to be an organized class. You can practice dance trends at home or head online for the vast free courses on social media applications.

Water Activities

Water activities are a great way to burn some calories. I can attest to this! I went paddleboarding for the first time and was so sore in my shoulders afterward. It felt like I was working while having fun. Activities like paddleboarding, kayaking, windsurfing, etc…. recruit strength, flexibility, balance, and core engagement. In addition, it is a great low-impact activity for all. The best part is stand-up paddleboarding can burn between 300-400 calories an hour! That is comparable to a moderate fitness class.

Other water activities that burn a lot of calories

Here is a list of water activities with an estimated calorie count per hour. However, the number of calories burned during these activities may vary based on age, weight, and fitness level.

  • Swimming (vigorous) – 715-892 calories
  • Rowing (moderate to vigorous) – 501-739 calories
  • Surfing – 313-446 calories
  • Water polo – 590-704 calories
  • Kayaking (moderate to vigorous) – 396-528 calories
  • Scuba diving – 295-356 calories
  • Kneeboarding – 297-356 calories
  • Water aerobics – 187-281 calories


Have you ever broken a sweat after a few hours of bowling? No, you’re not out of shape; you are getting a great workout! Bowling is a great way to increase movement while having fun with family and friends. If you are good enough, you can even join a league and make it a regular thing. Bowling incorporates strength, balance, flexibility, and aerobic activity. A 155-pound person can burn at least 200 calories in one hour of bowling, and if the alley has great music, dance along for an added burn. Just be mindful that many of the allies have great snack foods, so think before you eat if exercise is your goal!

Find an Activity That Works For You

As you can see, you can do many alternative activities for exercise. Although this is not an exhaustive list, these are just some ideas to get you started. It’s important you get up and moving to prevent lifestyle-related conditions. Find something you love to do that increases your heart rate, and you might find yourself loving exercise!

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