It is hard to stay healthy in this modern world. If you are reading this right now, I am willing to bet that you are sitting down. That is not a criticism, believe me – I am sitting down right now too so that I can write this. Many jobs today consist of sitting at a desk, or only moving around a very limited area (hey, we can’t all be bike couriers!). Chances are, you got there after a long commute, all of which was also spent sitting down. Weird as it seems, that level of non-activity is exhausting! When you get home, what do you most want to do? That’s right: sit down.
I suppose it would be easy to try and shame someone for working, living and feeling this way. “Just exercise! What’s the big deal,” they might ask. The truth is that feeling mentally fried after a day of either over or under stimulation is a more common complaint than you may think. It is completely normal to want to crash after a long day at work, and you are not the only person to feel this way, by far. The main takeaway I want you to have from this intro however, is that what you are feeling is mental exhaustion, not physical exhaustion – and a great cure for mental exhaustion is exercise. Yes, really! Now obviously, you are a busy person, so you are going to want the most payoff for the time you carve out for exercise. With that in mind, here is a list of exercises that burn the most calories.
I love this activity, because I feel like it is something anyone can do. There is not much impact on joints (they are being used a lot, but not slammed into), you can build up your ability level slowly, and it can very easily become a group or family activity. A woman of average weight – roughly around 160 pounds – can expect to burn over 800 calories per hour if she cycled at top speed the whole time. A man of average weight can expect to burn more like 900 calories.
If you do not exactly live in a place suitable for bike riding, or if you are in a tiny apartment and can not store a bicycle, check into your local gym. Cycling or “spinning” classes are often available even without a membership. These are high intensity, fun and positive group classes utilizing stationary bikes. Many places also make creative use of party music and dance club lighting. It would be hard NOT to have fun there!
Staying with the low impact exercises first, swimming is so good for your joints that it is often recommended for physical therapy patients and pregnant women (every situation is different, so check with your doctor first!). This is another activity which can be fantastic for groups or families, because who doesn’t love going for a dip in the pool? If you are the type who does not like to sweat, this is the workout for you.
Most of us do not have a pool in our back yards, so you may need to join a gym or swim club for this one. Once you do though, you can expect to burn between 700 and 800 calories per hour if you swim continuously. As an added bonus, gyms with indoor pools are open year round. Nothing helps beat the winter blues than a heated pool in the middle of January. Due to its gentle motions, this is an exercise you can keep up for life.
Hey, have you noticed how Zumba has taken off in recent years? Remember back to a time when you had never even heard the word mentioned (all of three years ago)? There is a reason everyone and their grandmother has hopped on board this amazingly fun and energetic workout: it works.
Dance is a fantastic means of moving your body, and if you are the type of person that has trouble sitting still when you hear a favorite song on the radio, then by all means, get involved with Zumba! This is an uplifting, energizing and positive class, all founded on the principle that working out ought to be fun. If you have to drag yourself to a class you don’t want to go to, it is only a matter of time before you stop going. Zumba instructors figure the onus is on them to create an atmosphere worthy of a class waiting list.
If you want to get started right now, today, and with zero start up costs, all you need to do is open your door, and begin running. Now obviously, if you are not a seasoned runner (Your humble blogger is anything but!) you will want to work up to it at first. There are tons of apps and programs you can load right onto your smartphone which will incrementally increase the amount of running you do, until you are proficient. You may be surprised at how quickly you make gains in your ability.
Running will burn something like 600 calories per hour. Bear in mind that running for an hour straight is something that must be worked towards over time, but if you feel like you have the heart of a runner in you, go get started. The extra fresh air and vitamin D you get from being out in the elements more often helps with those bluesy feelings we sometimes struggle with too.
High Intensity Interval Training (or “HIIT”)
So you say you are on a time crunch, but you still want to rock out am amazing workout in a relatively short time.? Welcome to the crazy, exciting and fast paced world of HIIT. Short for “High Intensity Interval Training” these workouts tend to last around 20 minutes, without any breaks whatsoever. Unlike running, elliptical machines, or any other type of sustained and repetitive motion, HIIT operates on the premise of continually changing muscle groups.
Your workout might look something like this:
30 jumping jacks
15 body weight squats
30 Jumping jacks
30 Second plank
… and so forth. As you can see, each exercise is occurring in short, intense and effective bursts, allowing the body to remain active continually without wearing out any one muscle group. When operating at peak performance, one can expect to burn a whopping 300 calories in just 20 minutes
If you have ever seen certain combinations of yoga poses referred to as a “flow”, then you are already familiar with the basics of Ashtanga Yoga. Sometimes also referred to as “power yoga” you might consider this a little more challenging than other classes.
These are a series of moves which blend into one another, meaning that unlike more traditional yoga, you are not standing still, or holding these poses for very long. The continual movement actually causes this form of yoga to affect you more like an aerobic workout might. At the same time, you are still enjoying the long stretches, the balance improvement and the overall calming effect you are already accustomed to.
Kickboxing combines an aerobic workout with high intensity interval training, and a little self defense practice thrown in as well. I’ll put it this way, if you are going to try this one at home, make sure you have moved your furniture a bit first. You are going to be all over the place!
This is a great, intense workout that switches between bursts of activity and rest. The continual stop and start allows you to keep your heart rate up, while also giving you a chance to recover for the next round. This is also a great class to take if you want to know how to throw a proper punch, or deliver a defensive kick. So often, people who are untrained end up injuring themselves when trying out a punching bag, because they do not have proper form. Kickboxing helps to correct that, making sure you are protecting your joints at all times so as to avoid injury, while working muscles properly.
Another activity you can begin right now, with little to no startup cost is hiking. Now, what a “hike” means to you probably has a lot to do with your ability level. If you are relatively new to hiking (like I am), stick to gravel trails with light hills, and very little “off road” obstacles. Once you feel like you have some stamina built up, you can begin upping the challenge level as you go along. After a few months of regular practice, you might not see those waist-high boulders as deterrents anymore, but rather as fun additions to the trail. Up the difficulty level by adding weight to your backpack (a lot of which should be taken up by water bottles), and bring some friends along for encouragement.
Looking for an overall introduction to getting healthier? Check out Udemy’s class called “The Perfect Health“, and begin turning things around today!