Should exercise be as easy as child’s play?
We know it’s good for us and we know we should do it, but exercise doesn’t come naturally for everyone and many of us just don’t find it fun.
So, could it be more enticing if we were to adopt it into our lifestyles in a more quirky way? Could reverting back to childhood make exercising easier and feel like less of a chore?
“Physical activity needs are best met by engaging in something that you enjoy,” says Dr Joann Lukins, Director of Peak Performance Psychology.
“So if it’s skipping, gymnastics or hula hoop, as long as you’re moving, that’s great.”
Lukins notes that if you have specific fitness goals then you need to ensure the activity is meeting the requirements that you have. However, for general health, she says that non-traditional activities can certainly be a great option.
“Lack of fun is the main reason attributed by adults and children for dropout rates in sport,” Lukins says. “When we’re doing something we enjoy, the benefits are further reaching than doing something out of obligation. Therefore, play-based fun activities are likely to ‘bring out the child’ in us and have positive benefits in terms of engagement with the exercise.”
So what are the sort of exercises that could help get our heart, excitement and motivation pumping?
Hula hooping – core strength
Founder and owner of Hoop Empire, Bunny Hoopstar, has been teaching hula hooping to adults for 11 years both in Australia and worldwide. She says that the adult hoop movement is massive and growing.
“Most people want to connect with their inner child, friends or family members as they engage in what is commonly know as ‘fun fitness’,” she says.
“Hooping is a fantastic way to let go of daily stresses and to tune into your body as it’s creative, colourful and makes you feel free.”
Hoopstar teaches 6-8 week courses and says that a weekly practice over an extended period of time offers great progress for a beginner to master foundational moves.
She notes the benefits associated with hooping include increased core stability, balance, alignment, body awareness, strength, coordination, rhythm, endurance and relaxation.
Additionally, it provides a great workout.
In fact, a 2010 study by the American council on exercise found that hula hooping burns over 400 calories per hour, and as many as 600 per hour when other parts of the body such as arms and legs are engaged.
“Flying Trapeze is becoming increasingly popular with adults as a way of increasing fitness or as a one off challenge,” says Jesse Jensen-Kohl, Head Instructor at Sydney .
“Physically, it’s relatively easy to try, but as you develop and do more classes, the challenges increase giving you endless possibilities,” he says.
Jensen-Kohl notes that physical benefits include toning, flexibility, balance and improved muscle strength.
He also says it’s great for maintaining a healthy mind – something that was reflected in a 2012 study where participants with mental health conditions undertook 6-12 trapeze lessons a week, over a period of six weeks.
At the end of the study, all participants reported psychological benefits including enhanced self esteem, greater motivation and the ability to overcome mental barriers.
“Many people find it hard to stay motivated with fitness, but the flying trapeze shifts the focus from your fitness to your goals,” says Jensen-Kohl.
“In doing so, you get fitter as you progress, as well as being surrounded by positive,
Gymnastics – resistance training
Tori Hand is a Head Coach at Falsegrip Gymnastics and a former competitive gymnast. She says that gymnastics strength training classes for adults have become very popular, with advanced students attending as many as 6-7 classes a week.
“For most attendees, the emphasis is on integrating strength and mobility and developing a stable physical structure,” she says. “However, we definitely notice an increase in confidence in clients too as they progress.”
Hand notes that when people enjoy and have fun with their training, they’re far more likely to be motivated to maintain consistency.
“With gymnastics strength training, there’s always a new skill to attain, which means there are constantly new goals to strive for,” she says.
But the benefits don’t just end there.
Studies have shown that resistance training improves joint health, maintains muscular development and improves cardiovascular fitness too.
Rollerblading / Inline Skating – leg work
“I think the biggest reason adults want to learn rollerblading or skating is to find a fun activity with fitness as an added incentive,” says Peter Schaffer, founder and instructor at YouSkate.
Schaffer says that being able to do something they previously thought was impossible is incredibly fulfilling for the individual.
He also says that the dynamics of rollerblading are very similar to skiing, in that your mind has to embrace every moment with no room for unnecessary thoughts – something he likens to meditation.
“Studies have shown that aerobically, rollerblading is better than cycling, but not quite as good as running because skaters are able to spend some time just coasting or rolling,” says Schaffer.
“If we introduce skating up hills however, rollerblading can outperform running as well. Just make sure you have the skills to come down!”
Other benefits of skating include good calorie expenditure, reduction of body fat, and leg strength development.
Trampolining – full body workout
Whilst trampolining is still something of a niche, Emily Steele, Skyfit National Fitness Coordinator, says it’s becoming one of the fastest growing ways to exercise that there is.
“As soon as people realise how fun it is and how much of a workout you get it becomes addictive,” she says.
Steele says that the classes give you a full body workout, improve lymphatic drainage and immunity, decrease body fat and build strength.
She also notes that the happy chemicals are flowing after a Skyfit class, so it leaves you with a long lasting smile.
As a motivator to get up and moving, she believes trampolining is a great option.
“It’s a non-intimidating environment, and there’s no equipment you won’t know how to use,” she says. “It’s a workout that will be so fun you won’t know you burnt up to 500 calories in 30 minutes. Plus, there aren’t many ways that you can exercise and laugh and smile the whole way through.”
Liked this? Read these!
Got something to say? Get it off your chest here
The Juice Daily is a Fairfax Media owned website