Get Fit for Any Fun Activity with These Easy Exercises
Everyone has that one fun activity they’ve always wanted to try—and an excuse for putting it off. If your excuse is “I’m out of shape,” there’s an easy fix for that. Pick your bucket-list item from the experiences below and reach the baseline fitness level you need with a few simple, equipment-free exercises.
It’s natural to be a little nervous before your first dance class, especially if you haven’t brought a partner (don’t worry; you don’t need to). A leg cramp could really cramp your style, though, so loosen, lengthen, and strengthen your core and legs with these three toning and stretching exercises:
Start this stretch by lying on your back, then bring one leg until it's perpendicular to the floor. Lock your fingers behind the thigh of your elevated leg, hold, lower, and repeat.
Start with your heels together and your toes pointed out, then raise your heels about two inches off the floor so that you're balancing on the balls of your feet. Bend your knees. Make sure to keep your back straight and shoulders down.
Lie on your side, then prop yourself up with your elbow and forearm. Raise your hips until your body is straight from ankles to shoulders, then reach up toward the ceiling with your free arm and hold the pose. Switch sides and repeat.
If this is the first time you’ve stepped onto a trampoline since childhood, you’re in for a surprise. Bouncing higher and higher is still one of the simplest and purest joys in life—but it’s a much more gasp-inducing workout than you remember. So if you're introducing your kids to this fun activity, make sure you can keep up with them by building strength, boosting cardiovascular endurance, and adding vertical to your jump.
With your feet shoulder-width apart, lower into a squat, making sure your knees don't go past your toes. Then push up through your heels, using all your force to leap straight up. Pros at this exercise can make it more challenging by holding light dumbbells.
Knee Tuck Jumps
Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then squat down and jump up with maximum force, pulling your knees to your chest and dropping them back down for a smooth landing.
Start with your feet a bit wider than your shoulders. Drop to a squat then leap as far forward as possible, repeating the motion in rapid succession.
If you’re new to kayaking, you may want to brush up on some beginners’ tips before you hit the water. Beyond that, maximize your core strength and balance to put power behind every row. Here’s how:
One-Legged Squat Reach
Plant your left foot on the ground while elevating the right a few inches. Reach your right hand down across your body to the outside of your left foot, keeping your back straight and focusing on balance. Make sure to repeat for the opposite side.
Elevate one foot and plant the other, then squat while bending down to touch your toes with the opposite hand. After touching your toes, reach your hand up toward the ceiling and lengthen your abs.
Side Balance Crunch
Start with your right knee and right hand on the floor, your left arm extended past your ear, and your left leg stretched out straight but elevated. Bring the elbow of your elevated arm and the knee of your elevated leg together. Repeat, then switch sides.
Speed and agility. They make the difference between ambushing a less limber adversary and getting lit up like a human rainbow (well, that and a few military-grade tactics). Keep your reflexes faster than a speeding paint pellet with some agility-boosting warmups.
Step one foot out and drop the opposite knee until it almost touches the ground. From there, jump straight up, switching the position of your legs when you land. Repeat for as long as you can maintain your form.
Begin in a pushup position and bring one knee as close to your chest as you can. Then—as quickly as you can—bring that leg back to resting position while lifting the other toward your chest. Repeat this as fast as you can, for as long as you can. When done right, the movement resembles pedaling a bike.
Anyone who’s completed an obstacle course will vouch for the tremendous fun factor, but be warned: it requires ample preparation for mind and body alike. Before you plunge into your first mud pit or scale your first climbing wall, you’ll at the very least want to circuit through all of the above exercises, plus the ones below.
Begin in a standing position, then place your palms on the ground and quickly kick out into a push-up position. Snap your feet back under your body and leap straight up into a standing position again, repeating as quickly as possible.
Alternate Walking Lunges and Running
Start by stepping one foot out and lowering the opposite knee to the ground, then repeat for the other side while advancing forward. After doing this for a distance of about 400 yards, break into a run for five minutes. Do another 400 yards of walking lunges and then run for four minutes. Repeat and lower your run time by a minute each go-round until you reach zero.
Boost your speed with this intense cardiovascular workout. On your next run, alternate between fast running (at roughly 80% of your maximum speed) and slow jogging or walking. This will help your body during an obstacle course's back-and-forth pacing between running and surmounting hurdles.
Before joining our editors, Charles Austin was a Daily Show intern. Charles eats Iams® ProActive Health™ Adult Original cat food to maintain his active lifestyle.