6 Unconventional Exercises That Don’t Feel Like A Workout

An older man and woman riding bikes through fall foliage with their feet raised playfully off the pedals.
Written by Risa Schulman
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3 minutes

We all know that exercise is good for us, but some days a visit to the rec center or your home gym feels more like a chore than a treat. Finding a workout you love means you’re more likely to stick to your routine, meet your health goals, and have fun while doing it. To help you rediscover the joy of movement, we’ve put together 6 unique workouts that don’t feel like exercise. Whether you’re exercising at home, outside, or in-person, one of these workouts may just become your new favorite!

Read More: Low Impact vs. High Impact Exercise

Non-traditional Workouts For Athletes Over 40

1. Dancing

From Bollywood to Burlesque, dancing is a full-body workout that gets your heart rate up, improves your strength, and builds your balance and coordination.1 Depending on the intensity, 30 minutes of dancing can burn anywhere between 90 to 266 calories, which is about the same as jogging.For an at-home option, search for free dance routines on YouTube or explore paid options through third-party websites and dance DVDs.


2. Video Games

You read that correctly - to work up a sweat (and have a blast doing it) a fitness video game like Wii Fit, Just Dance, or Beat Saber will get you out of your seat and moving. Not only can you get your heart rate up, but you may also unleash your inner child.

Video Games

3. Tai Chi

Tai chi, sometimes known as “meditation in motion”, is an ancient Chinese tradition that was originally used to teach self-defense. Today, tai chi is a gentle form of exercise and stretching that combines breathing and movement to help increase muscle strength, flexibility, and balance.3 In addition, the practice can also help decrease stress, anxiety, and depression.4

Tai Chi

4. Aerial Yoga

Aerial yoga (or “anti-gravity” yoga) is similar to traditional yoga with one big difference: you’re suspended a few feet off the ground using a supportive hammock. While it may sound like something you’d see in Cirque du Soleil, you don’t have to be an acrobat to fall in love with this exercise. Aerial yoga offers some of the traditional benefits of yoga (like increasing your flexibility and improving your blood pressure and cholesterol5 ) and may be especially beneficial for those who experience back spasms, scoliosis, or herniated discs. However, hanging upside down isn’t for everyone and if you’re just starting out, it’s important to learn the fundamentals from a qualified instructor. Also, if you have heart failure, defined spinal problems, glaucoma, or other medical condition, talk to your doctor before participating.6

Aerial Yoga

5. Skiing

If you’re looking for a great outdoor winter sport, try skiing. The sport mixes endurance and resistance training, which could have a positive effect on the circulatory system, and your leg muscles. In addition, skiing seems to benefit the entire cardiovascular system by lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your heart, and reducing arterial stiffness, a risk factor for heart disease and Alzheimer’s.7


6. Stand Up Paddleboarding

You may need to wait until spring to try this workout, but it’s worth it! Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is an increasingly popular sport in which you stand on top of a large, surf-like board and use a paddle to navigate the water. This relatively new sport is praised for increasing balance, core strength, and aerobic fitness.If you’re new to the sport, rent the equipment from your local sport shop, national park, or recreation facility. Depending on where you decide to paddle board, you may need to purchase a season permit.

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Finding an exercise you love makes it easier to incorporate movement into your everyday life. Whether you choose a workout from this list or find an alternative, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new workout routine. Once you begin, start slow, listen to your body, and enjoy the thrill of your favorite workout!

Written by:

Risa Schulman


Risa Schulman, Ph.D. took her lifelong love of science, people and the fulfillment of potential to create a multifaceted career in R&D, business, health and wellness, and empowering individuals. 

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