Whether you run in the park near your home or head to the gym on a regular schedule, sometimes doing the same old fitness routine can get boring. The danger in that is it becomes tempting to skip your workout altogether. Also, you can max out on your strength-building and calorie-burning potential by doing the same exercise regimen all the time. You can actually burn more calories and challenge your body better by shaking up your routine once in a while. Here are four activities you may not have considered, each of which offers something different to maintain or improve your fitness level.
Fencing has been compared to playing chess at 100 miles an hour because it calls on both physical and mental skills in near equal amounts. Competitors use one of three weapons: the foil, the épée or the sabre, which is the heaviest and most like a traditional sword. Fencers wear protective clothing, including a mask with a mesh face, and points are scored by touching one’s opponent in certain approved spots on the body as the fencers move back and forth along a fencing strip on the floor.
Fencing at advanced levels is done with electric gear that registers every time a point is scored, but many communities use traditional fencing rules including the honor system or with a visual referee. You can easily purchase gear online, and most fencing schools have salle gear, equipment that can be borrowed by new students. This sport builds cardiovascular health, flexibility and strength as well as keeps the brain in top shape with its strategic nature. It doesn’t have to be particularly high impact, however, so it’s a good option for people with mild joint issues or who want to avoid arthritis in the future.
Tai chi is considered a “soft” martial art from China. Practitioners use movements similar to those learned in hand-to-hand self-defense training, but they are performed more like a choreographed dance than one-on-one sparring. These sequences, called forms, vary in length, and they have different origins within Chinese history.
All tai chi forms, however, are like moving meditations. They incorporate regular deep breathing and ask for internal focus, so they are ideal for relieving stress. Tai chi also builds flexibility as well as strength. In China, large groups of people of all ages perform tai chi forms together. However, this activity can be done alone or with just a few people, making it perfect for someone who is on the road a lot for work or doesn’t want to be tied to an exercise class schedule.