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Most Popular Fitness and Sports Activities To Stay Fit and Healthy

Most Popular Fitness and Sports Activities To Stay Fit and Healthy

When it comes to choosing a fitness or sports activity, it is best to find challenging and fun activities that can keep you motivated. You should also take into account your current level of fitness and health in choosing a physical activity. When creating a fitness program, you should always keep the following in mind:

  • Meet your needs
  • Challenging
  • Fun
  • Available where you live
  • Cost-effective

Should you see your doctor before starting a fitness program?

Generally speaking, even if you haven’t exercised for a while but are in good health, you can start exercising at a light to moderate level without getting an extensive medical exam. However, if you have a medical condition, are at risk for heart problems or have a prior injury that prohibits you from participating in some physical activities, you should see your doctor before starting a new fitness program. Your doctor can help you develop a suitable exercise plan while taking into consideration your age, health, physical condition and other key factors.

Aerobics

Aerobics is one of the most popular forms of exercise practiced by millions of people as it helps to promote overall fitness and health. Especially, if heart disease runs rampant in your family or you experience extreme times of stress in your life, you should look into aerobics as a way to improve your fitness and cardiovascular health.

There are various forms of aerobic workouts you can try including:

  • Standard aerobics
  • Step aerobics
  • Water aerobics
  • Dance aerobics

Aerobic exercise vs. anaerobic exercise

An aerobic exercise becomes anaerobic exercise, also called isometric exercise, if done at a level of intensity that is too high such as strength training or sprinting. Basically, any exercise that requires short exertion of energy and high-intensity movement is called anaerobic exercise where increased oxygen production is not required. Anaerobic exercises work muscles and strengthen bones.

Standard Aerobics

This form of aerobic exercise can be done in a gym or at home. If you need motivation and help in learning routines and individual exercises, you should take an aerobics class offered at a gym or community center. This is because you may have to perform exercises you have not done before, instructors will be able to help you execute them properly.

In a standard aerobics class, you will have to do various exercise routines. Exercises that focus on certain parts of your body, including legs, hips, thighs, shoulders, arms and waist, will not only help you tone these areas but also increase your oxygen intake as these exercises are often performed quickly and in repetition.

Certain groups of people such as seniors, pregnant women or overweight people who can’t perform high intensity workouts can try low impact aerobics. This type of aerobics consists of rhythmic movements and involves exercising large muscle groups.

Step Aerobics

Step aerobics is similar to standard aerobics except you will use a step while you exercise. The “step” used in aerobics is usually a 4-12-inch raised platform. The step is intended to simulate stairs which increase heart rate and oxygen flow. Step aerobics can also help tone thigh and calve muscles as the exercises are done in repetition with a focus on these muscle groups.

Classes are usually broken up into groups with varying level of difficulty based on the pace, height and duration of the routines used during the class. Many classes combine step aerobics with other activities such as jumping rope, sliding or aerobic dancing. If you enjoy a vigorous workout, then step aerobics is for you.

Water Aerobics

Water aerobics relies on water resistance to help you build muscle and endurance. Classes usually take place in a fairly shallow pool where standard aerobics exercises are performed, often set to music to keep the participants motivated. The water acts like a weight where the participants have to resist in order to tone muscle and build endurance.

Water aerobics is considered to be an ideal physical activity if you have joint problems, chronic pain or are recovering from injury. As an added benefit, due to the buoyancy of the water, you will put less strain on the injured areas in your body.

While water aerobics is a low-impact workout, you can make it as challenging as you want and have fun too. Water aerobics is also popular among seniors and pregnant women.

Dance Aerobics

Dance aerobics combines exercise and dancing into various routines that are performed with the music. Aerobic dance includes various levels of difficulty. Low impact aerobic dance is slower and simpler to do than intermediate and advanced levels. There are different types of aerobic dance such as Hi-Lo aerobics, Hip-Hop aerobics, jazz aerobics and Zumba.

If you like dancing and exercise, dance aerobics can be the ideal type of workout for you. It is a fun and exciting workout that can help you strengthen your body, provide energy to carry out your daily activities more efficiently and have a nice looking body.

Pros and Cons of Aerobics

Pros

  • Burns fat
  • Tones muscles
  • Reduces risk of heart disease due to strengthened cardiovascular system
  • Improves functioning of the respiratory system
  • Reduces stress
  • Easy to learn
  • Different varieties to keep it exciting and fun
  • Easy to fit into your time schedule
  • Choice of taking a class or using a DVD tutorial to do it at home

Cons

  • May not be appropriate for those who have back or knee injury
  • May not be suitable for those who are obese or overweight
  • Exercises may be difficult for some
  • Low risk of injury

Aerobics is a wonderful way to exercise, tone muscle, increase blood flow and oxygen intake. When inquiring about an aerobics program, ask questions to the instructors at your gym or those you know who take classes.

Yoga

Yoga

Yoga is different from aerobics as it is considered a low intensity exercise. It is used to promote awareness of the body through a series of stretches and poses. Yoga has become a popular way to help tone the body, lengthen skeletal muscles and reduce stress.

Yoga Poses

Yoga is all about challenging your limits and reaching new levels of strength and flexibility, both internally and externally. Having said that, the most important aspect of yoga are the poses. These are stretches that are held for a few seconds or more. Generally speaking, you should try to hold the yoga poses for about 10-12 breaths which can be increased with practice. However, practicing yoga should not be a source of pain and discomfort for you, and you should never try to stretch beyond your body’s capacity.

The duration of each yoga pose will depend on several factors such as:

  • Type of yoga you practice
  • Your physical fitness
  • Existence of any medical conditions
  • Your age
  • Your willpower

While yoga poses have their own names, they fall into two distinct categories: standing poses and sitting poses. Both can be used to increase flexibility, tone muscles and reduce stress.

Most Popular Yoga Poses for Beginners

There are over 300 hundred yoga poses that can be used during a session. Here’s a list of the most popular yoga poses for beginners:

  • Bridge
  • Child
  • Cobra
  • Crane
  • Crescent lunge
  • Dancer
  • Downward facing dog
  • Half pigeon
  • Mountain
  • Plank
  • Seated forward bend
  • Tree
  • Triangle
  • Upward facing dog
  • Warrior 1 & 2

Many people feel intimidated when they first try yoga. As mastering the poses is essential to getting all the benefits that come with yoga, you will have to perform each pose as they are taught to you. It is through these poses that you will be able to stretch various muscles in your body. Deep stretches can help tone your body and improve your posture. Those who are under a lot of stress or want to improve their flexibility will benefit from yoga. Many people say that they feel more relaxed, sleep better at night, and have more energy during the day.

Yoga classes

Yoga classes are available for beginners and advanced participants in most localities. If you don’t know much about yoga, you should take a class in order to learn the poses and perform them correctly. You can visit one of the yoga studios in your town to see what type of classes they offer and if they have any openings that will fit your schedule.

Most yoga classes are small. After instructors demonstrate a pose, the class will imitate it. Instructors will go around the class to help those who need help. After a few months, you should be able to execute the poses and benefit from the stretches.

While classes are beneficial in teaching you the basics of yoga, you are required to follow the series that the instructor creates. Those who are familiar with basic yoga may want to stay home and create their own series of poses.

If you don’t think you are ready for a class, or you are familiar with some of the basic yoga poses, buying an instructional DVD is a good way to practice yoga at home. There are many yoga tutorials on the market that cover beginner, intermediate and advanced poses.

Yoga for Meditation

In addition to increasing flexibility, yoga can also reduce stress, both physically and emotionally. Sitting poses are used more often for reducing stress because you can better meditate by sitting. Those who practice yoga usually begin with sitting poses, add standing poses, and then return to sitting poses.

Meditating requires silence or soft music. You should give yourself enough time to practice yoga, as getting your body to unwind can take more than 30 minutes. Reducing stress is important for anyone who has a busy schedule. If you work in an office or you are on your feet all day, relaxing with yoga in the evening can help restore and refresh your body, mind, and soul.

Pros and Cons of Yoga

Pros

  • Easier on the body than other fitness programs
  • Relaxes body and mind
  • Therapeutic benefits to the body and mind
  • Reduces stress which can help prevent illnesses
  • Improves one’s mental agility
  • Increases flexibility and muscle tone
  • Does not require any gear or equipment
  • Poses can be done anywhere
  • Choice of taking a class or using an instruction DVD to practice it at home

Cons

  • Must be able to dedicate time to the poses
  • Many people need to take a class in order to learn the poses
  • Yoga lessons can be expensive
  • Shouldn’t be done while pregnant or recovering from an injury
  • Muscle cramps
  • Lack of qualified instructors

Even though yoga is a relaxing form of exercise, it is not for everyone. If you cannot devote time to learn the poses and perform them correctly, you will not receive all the benefits yoga offers. If you are looking for a low impact fitness program, you should give yoga a try.

Walking

Walking

Walking is different than those fitness activities that require you to go to a gym or take a class in order to benefit from the program. Walking may be the most popular type of exercise you can do on your own.

For many, walking a mile or more a day can help increase blood circulation, flexibility and energy level. Walking is the simplest form of exercise people can do every day. Whether it is walking to work, walking around town or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, you can create a fitness program that fits your needs.

When beginning a walking program, the only equipment you will need is a timer, step counter and a good pair of walking shoes. As walking is considered a low impact physical activity, many people think they do not need to wear quality shoes. But if you plan on walking every day, you should buy a pair of light-weight walking shoes with padded inserts, rubberized soles and arch support to prevent ankle, shin and knee injuries as well as blisters and calluses.

When walking for fitness, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Stretch before beginning your walk.
  • Walk at a brisk pace for 20-30 minutes.
  • Plan your route before you start walking.
  • Wear lighter clothing.
  • Wear reflective clothing if walking in the evening or at night.
  • Walk in warm or cool weather and avoid extreme heat or cold.

Walking as a form of physical activity is a great way to get fit and improve your health as well as see interesting things around your neighborhood to the bargain.

Pros and Cons of Walking

Pros

  • Good for overall fitness
  • Burns calories
  • Reduces stress
  • Easily measurable
  • Little equipment needed
  • Can be done almost anywhere
  • Suitable for most people
  • Option of walking alone or with a partner

Cons

  • Time consuming
  • Low intensity exercise
  • Poor for fitness if not done at a brisk pace
  • Unsafe to walk in extreme cold or hot weather
  • Low risk of injury

Jogging or Running

As walking, jogging or running is one of the most popular types of physical activities you can do on your own to improve your level of fitness and health.

Jogging or running is considered a high impact exercise as you will be increasing oxygen intake and blood flow faster than you would by walking, and your muscles will be working harder. Jogging or running is a good way to tone your body, improve your cardiovascular health and stamina.

You should invest in quality footwear that will absorb most of the shock that comes from your feet hitting the ground. This will help prevent injuries like sprained ankles, knee and joint pain as well as lower back pain.

When jogging or running, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Stretch before and after running.
  • Only run for a maximum of 30-40 minutes.
  • Wear light clothing.
  • Wear reflective clothing if walking in the evening or at night.
  • Carry water with you in order to stay hydrated.
  • Do not run if you have injured yourself.
  • Do not run in extreme heat or cold.

Jogging or running is a fitness activity that can be short lived if you do it too often. It is the most common cause of sports injuries, Injuries to the knees are common, which could force a person to find a low impact exercise. Keep in mind that if you run too often, you increase the risk of torn ligaments and pulled muscles.

How often should you jog or run?

How often you should jog or run is one of the most important questions to ask before you start this kind of fitness activity. Research shows that a person has to jog or run at least a couple of times per week to get the full benefits from this type of activity. You should also take into account your goals, daily schedule and level of physical fitness in deciding on the jogging or running frequency.

The difference between jogging and running

The main difference between jogging and running is the pace you move at. In general, jogging is described as going at a speed of less than 6 mph, while running is described as going faster than 6 mph. In short, jogging is faster than walking and slower than running.

Pros and Cons of Jogging or Running

Pros

  • Great for overall fitness
  • High calorie burn
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Improves functioning of the respiratory system
  • Improved concentration
  • Reduces stress with mental health benefits
  • Easily measurable
  • Little equipment needed
  • Can be done almost anywhere
  • Most people can participate
  • Option of jogging or running alone or with a partner

Cons

  • Risk of developing osteoarthritis
  • Breast sagging
  • Hard for most people
  • Not suitable for obese people
  • Not safe to jog or run in extreme cold or hot weather
  • Risk of injury

If you are looking for an exercise that you can do at any time in most locations, jogging or running is one of the easiest type of exercise you should consider.

Weight Training

Weight Training

If you want to build muscle, strength and endurance, you should give weight training a try. In order to create a plan that will get you results, you will have to join a gym or invest money in equipment like weights, mats and weight lifting machines, if you have the space in your home.

Weight training involves using weights of different measurements and rotating them to build muscle, strength and endurance. Muscle building is beneficial in many ways:

  • Bodies that have more muscle have less fat
  • Muscle provides you with more endurance and strength
  • Muscle adds tone and shape to your body

Weight Training and Weight Change

Weight gain

Many people are surprised to find out that they have gained weight after a few months on a weight training program. Weight gain is normal as body fat is gradually replaced by muscle overtime, and muscle weighs more than body fat.

Weight loss

While you will probably lose some weight after beginning this type of program, weight training is more about shaping your body and building muscle mass rather than losing weight. Combining weight training with aerobic exercises is a great way to lose weight while building muscle and toning your body.

Developing A Weight Training Routine

If you are new to weight training, you may want to visit a gym and hire a trainer who specializes in weight training. You will have to determine the following before beginning your training:

  • Current weight
  • Body fat percentage
  • How often you should work out
  • Your goals
  • What to expect from this type of workout

Your weight training routine will vary depending on your gender, what you are capable of lifting, and your body type.

Free Weights and Gym Machines

Most gyms have a combination of free weights and gym machines based on levers and cables so those working out will be able to focus on specific muscle groups while increasing endurance, strengthening skeletal structure and building muscle mass. While you can choose the types of weights and equipment you feel more comfortable using, however, chances are that in order to achieve your goals, you will have to use a combination of free weights and gym machines. This approach will yield the best results.

Free weights

Free weights include bar bells, dumbbells and kettle bells. They can be found in a variety of weights and sizes. Some have removable plates that can be used to switch from one weight to the next.

When using free weights, it is important to stand straight and place support on your lower back and spine. Always lift weights using your knees and not your back. Pick up free weights slowly so you don’t injure yourself.

Gym machines

Gym machines are available for those who want to build the muscles in their legs, arms, chest and abdomen. These types of machines have adjustable weights with levers and cables for a variety of workouts.

When using gym machines, correct posture is important as the body functions more efficiently when it is aligned properly. Bad posture may result in a poor workout and injuries especially when you are using too much weight. Try your best to maintain correct posture at all times when using these machines and adjust the weight as necessary.

Here is a sampling of the most popular gym machines available today that can be used to build muscle, strength and endurance:

  • Assisted Dip Workstation
  • Back Extension Bench
  • Cable Lat Pulldown
  • Cable Pulley Station
  • Hack Squat Machine
  • Overhead Press Workstation
  • Pull Up Bar or Frame
  • Seated Cable Row
  • Smith Machine
  • Unilateral Low Pull

Pros and Cons of Weight Training

Pros

  • Burns fat
  • Builds muscle
  • Increases strength and endurance
  • Strengthens skeletal structure
  • Tones muscles and shapes body
  • Prevents the onset of chronic conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis
  • Improve overall body coordination
  • Relieves stress
  • Easy to track progress

Cons

  • Muscle development differs in everyone so results may vary
  • Pressure on heart can lead to heart enlargement and complications in the future
  • Stress fractures may occur on the bones
  • Requires high degree of self-discipline
  • Not suitable for everyone
  • Risk of injury

Weight training is a difficult and challenging physical activity which should be performed under the supervision of a qualified instructor for best results.

Sports Activities

If you do not think you can stay motivated by any of the fitness activities mentioned so far, perhaps you can try other sports such as biking, skating, swimming, rowing or tennis. If you like team sports, joining an organization or local sports team can keep you motivated in pursuing your fitness plans. With scheduled practices, games and other events, you will have to show up and do your part for the team.

Team sports are a great way to meet new people, get exercise and reduce stress. Popular team sports include:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Field hockey
  • Rugby

When you join a team, you will be grouped together with others who also want to incorporate fitness into their lives. Having a group attitude like this can only motivate you into sticking with your routine.

Finding Team Sports

You will not have to look far to find team sports. You can find several opportunities for team sports in the area you live. Common places include:

  • Company sponsored team sports
  • Community centers
  • Fitness club sponsored events
  • Weekly pick-up games with friends
  • Charity team sporting events

Check community bulletins, ask people who live in your community and research local sports teams online. Many teams post ads and other messages before the start of every season for those who are interested.

Getting Along with Others

When it comes to team sports, the biggest obstacle is making sure that everyone on the team gets along with one another. If members on the team constantly fight or quarrel, then you will no longer have fun, which will ruin your motivation. Even though this is considered a fitness activity, there are other factors to consider.

If conflict becomes an issue, you can do the following:

  • Talk to the captain of the team
  • Try to understand where the problems are coming from
  • Leave the team and find another activity
  • Finish out the season and move on to another team

Sometimes conflicts will not go away, and you will have to make the decision as to stay with the team or leave it.

Pros and Cons of Team Sports

Pros

  • Good for overall health and fitness
  • Raise competitive spirit
  • Enjoy being a team player
  • Enjoyment of the game
  • Equipment provided
  • Opportunity to interact and socialize with other people
  • Learn more about your community

Cons

  • Have to rely on others
  • Season is only a few months
  • Teams change from year to year
  • Conflicts can occur
  • Requires too much time
  • High risk of injury

If you enjoy sports activities where other people are involved, then you should find one in your community to get involved with. You will be a part of your community and be able to compete against others who are on the same level as you.

Final Words

Exercising regularly offer many health benefits, both physically and mentally. Physically, it can help you control your weight, tone your body, lower the risk of heart disease, and strengthen your muscles and skeletal system. Mentally, exercising improves mental health by reducing both stress and anxiety. It can make you feel relaxed and boost your mood by inducing the brain to release endorphins throughout the body. It can also enhance self-esteem and self-confidence.

While the basic principles and guidelines of fitness for health remain the same, however, the types of physical activities you want to try will depend on your individual circumstances, personal preferences and fitness goals.

The fitness programs mentioned so far can easily fit into different lifestyles. When looking for a fitness program, it is important to find activities that will not take away from your prior obligations. Find programs that compliment your life, not complicate it.

“The Beginner’s Guide To Fitness For Life”

  1. The Importance Of Physical Activity For Health and Fitness
  2. Most Popular Fitness and Sports Activities To Stay Fit and Healthy
  3. How To Pick The Right Fitness Center – Top 12 Factors To Consider
  4. The Importance Of Fitness For Women
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