Great Exercises You Actually Want To Do

couple dancing( — Sometimes you need to break out of the gym and mix things up with some new types of workouts…especially when the weather is warm.

“The most ideal activities are ones that don’t feel like exercise,” notes San Diego’s Jessica Matthews, MS, certification director for the American Council on Exercise and an adjunct professor at Miramar College in the department of exercise science, health, and nutrition.

So switch up your routine this summer and try one one of the below workouts – you won’t even feel like you’re working out, but you’ll still reap the fitness benefits.


Dance is another fun activity that also happens to offer one of the best workouts. You’ll burn calories whether you choose ballet, hip-hop, country-line, or ballroom dancing. Dance is an exercise that encourages creativity and moving your body freely. And, while you’re learning new moves, you’re also getting a great workout. “Depending on the intensity of your steps, dancing can burn between 130 and 250 calories per 30 minutes,” Matthews says.

Fitness Games

Any number of active video games, such as Dance Dance Revolution, Nintendo Wii, Wii Fit, and Dancetown, to name a few, can be included as part of a well-rounded exercise routine, Matthews says. And because video games are so much fun, you might not even realize that they’re helping you to stay fit — the hallmark of all the best workouts. How many calories you’ll burn depends on the workout game, but 30 minutes of Wii Boxing can burn 216 calories; whereas, 30 minutes of Wii Fit Free Fun or Island Run can burn 165.


Bike riding is a wonderful summertime exercise that’s fun and helps you stay fit. You can bike as a family and feel that you’re getting great quality time along with a painless workout. Many communities offer great riding trails for exercise with a view. For safety, be sure that everyone wears a helmet, Matthews says. If you’re going for a longer ride, pack a healthy picnic lunch and stop to refuel. You’ll want to take water with you, too


Summertime is ideal for swimming, another low-impact aerobic exercise. You can get a great total body workout from swimming and have so much fun doing it that you won’t think of it as exercise, Matthews says. “Swimming puts limited stress on your joints, bones, and connective tissue, which makes it a suitable option for almost anyone, from children to pregnant women to older adults.” Thirty minutes of lap swimming at a slow to moderate pace burns about 286 calories if you weigh 150 pounds.


A game of summertime baseball is a great way to be active and exercise without that workout feeling. Baseball can improve your hand-eye coordination and strengthen your upper body (from throwing) and your lower body (from short bursts of sprinting). Baseball also improves your concentration and mental focus. Play two innings — about 30 minutes — and you’ll burn about 170 calories. Exercise for all nine, and you’ll burn a whopping 765 calories.


Walking is a great low-impact aerobic exercise that almost anyone can do, Matthews says. It’s one of the best workouts because you can do it just about anywhere, whether you’re on a ‘staycation’ or are renting a place by the beach or a lake. To make a walking workout seem even less like exercise, take a walk after dinner around the neighborhood with a friend or a family member. Walk together at a brisk pace, about 15 minutes a mile; if you weigh about 150 pounds, you’ll burn about 300 calories an hour.

Martial Arts

Doing martial arts activities can be a wonderful workout that doesn’t feel like you’re working out at all. Any form of martial arts will have lots of benefits, Matthews says, because they all incorporate strength, coordination, and mental discipline. “With martial arts, proper training and equipment to prevent injury are a must,” she says. A 150-pound person will burn about 340 calories for every 30 minutes of kickboxing, karate, or Aikido.


You may not realize it, but gardening is also one of the best workouts, with many types of exercise built in. A half-hour of gardening, Matthews says, can burn about 150 calories and is an effective form of resistance training. If you turn over your compost pile, pull weeds by hand, and do some raking, you’ll get an upper-body workout — upper arms, shoulders, chest, and back. Hoeing trains your upper arms in particular, while digging is good for your thighs and glutes. Use a push mower and you can get your heart pumping, too.