If you want to be more active + badass + physically/mentally healthy but hate running, you’re definitely not alone. While the benefits of exercise (like better sleep quality, more energy, and the release of stress) are great, the experience of exercise can leave a lot to be desired. Although I think there are pros and cons to running, I also believe that it’s grossly overrated as an accessible exercise for people who are just starting to get into personal fitness. It’s high impact, it’s boring, it can injure you in a disturbing number of ways, and it’s incredibly easy to just give up and walk.
My personal philosophy on exercise is tied into self-care — a good fitness routine can enhance your life in a major way, and it’s important to come at it from an angle of:
- having fun
- doing what works for you
- challenging your body but not criticizing it
- improving your health, both in your emotional and mental well-being
- feeling comfortable in your own skin
(Please note the absence of “get hot/lose weight/acquire a specific body type” on that list!) On that note, here’s some of my favorite non-running, get-your-heart-rate-up exercises:
- rowing — whether on a rowing machine or in a kayak or canoe, this is a great way to get your heart rate up and work out your whole body. Just make sure to use proper form!
- hiking — this is a great social activity, and the scenery is an added bonus. I recommend a picnic halfway through.
- jumping rope — boxers do this for a reason — it helps keep you moving and on your toes. if just jumping rope is boring for you, look into learning some tricks.
- swimming — doing laps is so so good for your upper body, plus you have an opportunity for fashion with your swimsuit. I always feel like my muscles are stretched out really well after swimming, and I tend to be less sore than with a lot of other exercises.
- dance — from zumba to dancing in your bedroom, this one is definitely a mood booster + a good social activity
- tabata — this workout is essentially calisthenics intervals. the idea is that you work really hard for a short burst, take a break, short burst, take a break, and so on. you get your heart rate up and a decent workout in a short amount of time, so it’s good if you don’t have time to go to the gym and want to do it at home. while there are different premade workouts you can choose from, sprints, burpees, mountain climbers, pushups, situp variations, and jumping jacks are all good starting points for a build-your-own-tabata
- burpees — the burpee is satan but at least it’s something different
- technically running, but running up and down stairs / bleachers — whereas jumping rope makes me feel like a boxer in training, this one conjures up the image of high school sports training
- skiing — I’ve never gone skiing, but people rave about it so if that’s something that’s available to you, I say go for it
- rock climbing — this is a fun thing to do occasionally. I’ve always found it a little inconvenient, because you have to go find a place that lets you climb on their rocks and use their ropes and I’m really lazy. (Yes even as I write about fitness.)
- rollerskating/rollerblading — CHANNEL YOUR INNER DERBY GIRL/80’S GODDESS AND SLAP ON SOME SKATES. GO GO GO!
- ice skating — ice skating is great and fun and an excuse to have hot chocolate and hold hands with a cutie, and it’ll work out your legs in the same way that non-ice skating and rollerblading will
- sports : soccer, basketball, tennis, etc. etc.
- hula hooping — this can be really cool. in the same line as jump roping, you can learn tricks/routines. a girl I went to high school with does this and it’s captivating to watch. (my hula hoop skills are still in the baby stages)