You’ll find the elliptical machine in just about every gym out there nowadays, and with good reason: It provides a highly effective cardio workout that’s also low impact. The machine is extremely versatile and can help you build strength, lose fat, and improve your aerobic conditioning depending on the settings you use. And you can target different parts of your lower body by changing the incline – ramp it up to hit your glutes and hamstrings, or lower it down to target your legs and calves. It’s got something for everybody!
Sometimes simple is best. Walking, the most basic of all exercises, is a surprisingly effective form of exercise for building cardiovascular endurance. And it does not have to be vigorous to be effective – a casual stroll still burns more calories than being sedentary. If you can’t convince a buddy to join, bring your pooch – LIVESTRONG.COM members reported walking with their dog on more than 100,000 occasions last year. So lace up your shoes and get out there!
Judging by the numbers, LIVESTRONG.COM members aim to be just that: Strong. Real strong. Weight lifting, the third most popular activity tracked on the site, can help build muscle and bone density, improving strength and helping to prevent disease. There’s evidence that pumping iron also can pump up your metabolism, as increasing your muscle mass can improve how much fat you burn.
The average person burns about 100 calories for each mile they run, making this activity one of the most effective methods out there for people who want to lose weight and keep it off. Other bonuses: Runners tend to have low blood pressure, strong lungs, fitter hearts – and they get to experience “runners high,” an endorphin release that can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
What activity is more classic than hopping on a two-wheeler and going for a ride? It was fun when you were a kid, and remains enjoyable today. Bicycling is in the LIVESTRONG.COM top five tracked fitness activities (perhaps our founder has something to do with it). Mountain bikes, road racers, beach cruisers, or even tandem cycles can get you wherever you want to go – and help you burn off plenty of calories along the way.
6. Indoor Cycling
Neither snow nor rain no heat nor gloom can get in the way of your workout when you cycle indoors. The high RPM workouts, often performed to fast-paced house music, can get your heart pumping and blood circulating in a hurry. Classes let you make friends and build camaraderie as you burn upwards of 500 calories per hour.
7. Circuit Training
Want to hit your fitness goals quickly? Circuit training lets you get more done in less time by combining high-intensity aerobic activity with resistance training. The result burns fat and sculpts muscles in a fast-moving, heart-pumping workout.
Bikram, Ashtanga, Iyengar – people practice yoga for the fitness both outside and in. If you’ve never tried yoga, it’s no joke. The sequences can challenge your strength, flexibility and patience (“Are we still holding this pose?”). Sculpted arms, a stronger core and better balance are just some of the things you can take from frequent yoga practice. Oh yeah, and hopefully some Zen. Om.
9. Stair Climbing
How about a workout that is low cost and gym-free? Head to your local football stadium and hoof it up the bleachers, or hit the office stairwell. After just a few flights you’ll feel the burn. Stair climbing builds endurance, strengthens your legs and burns more calories than jogging. You can up the difficulty by taking two steps at a time or by carrying dumbbells.
Developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, Pilates was designed to strengthen both the mind and body. Looking for long lean muscles, flexibility and a strong core? Try hammering out 100’s, which helps build all three. Scoop those abs and breathe!
Want a workout that truly kicks butt? Kickboxing is your winner. The activity mixes martial arts and stand-up combat moves (kicking, punching, knee and elbow strikes, to name a few) to create a calorie-thrashing brawl that’s as fun as it is empowering. Put up your dukes!
One of the best full-body workouts you can participate in, swimming tones you up from shoulders to toes. A 30-minute swim can burn between 300 and almost 450 calories (depending on your body weight) and catapult you toward that beach body you crave. Jump in!
Samba, Swing, Waltz or Hip Hop, members on LIVESTRONG.COM are burning calories by moving their booties. Dancing is not only a great way to exercise, it’s also a fun activity you can do alone or with friends. Turn up the music and get your groove on!