In the woods

Exercise that Doesn’t Feel Like Exercise: Top 10 Ways to Make Exercise More Fun

If you’re anything like me, you don’t particularly enjoy going to the gym or doing structured exercise. I am fully aware of the benefits that exercise can provide, but I have always preferred finding ways to be active that are fun and enjoyable. Read on to learn about my favorite ways to incorporate exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise.

1. Walking the Dog

Walking my dog is by far my favorite way to exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise. Not only does it benefit her by burning off some of her excess energy, but it also gives me an excuse to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. This doesn’t usually feel like exercise to me because we aren’t on any particular agenda; we walk a bit, we stop and sniff some things, and we talk to the neighbors (who are also walking their dogs). 

Check out this cutie! Who wouldn’t want to give her all of the W-A-L-K’s her little heart desires??

Nancy the Australian labradoodle

2. Swimming

If you have access to a pool, a lake or the ocean, swimming can be a great way to move your body and burn calories without even realizing that you are exercising. Bonus points if you can swim laps or join a group class like water aerobics!

3. Yoga

Many people view yoga as either a super spiritual practice or an activity for very flexible individuals. However, there are many different levels and kinds of yoga, ranging from guided stretching to a full body workout. Even if you don’t think you would be good at yoga, I am confident you can find a routine that works for you. Yoga not only provides exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise, but it also helps with stress relief and flexibility. One of my favorites is Yoga With Adriene on YouTube.

Yoga pose

4. Playing with the kids (or grandkids)

If you have kids or grandkids, bring out your inner child and just play. You get to spend time with your loved ones, build relationships, and get exercise at the same time. Play tag, hopscotch, or a made-up game that your 4-year-old grandchild wants to play. It doesn’t really matter. As long as you are moving your body, you are burning calories and getting the benefit.

5. Going on a hike

Okay, so this may feel like exercise depending on the difficulty of the hike and your fitness level. But personally, I would much rather go on a peaceful hike through the woods than go to the gym and work out. Most of the parks in my area (and I’m sure yours, too!) have trails of varying difficulty and distance so you can choose the one that matches your abilities. Check out for a hiking trail near you!

In the woods

6. Dancing

Dancing is something that anybody can do with no equipment needed. It doesn’t matter if you have skills or not! Just turn on some music, and get moving! If you need more structure, try following a Zumba or Dance video on YouTube.

7. Cardio Drumming

Many of you may be unfamiliar with the concept of cardio drumming. It isn’t a super common method of exercise, but it can be an excellent way to get moving in a low impact way and have fun at the same time! Cardio drumming is a guided fitness activity that combines aerobics, drumming, and dancing to music. The moves can be modified to any fitness level. Check out this drumming channel, AeroDrumz, on Youtube!

8. Yard games

Going to a cookout or outdoor get-together this summer? Be sure to play corn hole, ladder golf, or horseshoes. Sure these activities don’t burn as many calories as biking or jogging, but every little bit counts. Yard games can be a great way to get exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise.

9. Video games

Typically video games are thought of as a sedentary activity, but if you are strategic about your choice of game, you can get a good work out! Try Wii Sports, PlayStation Move, or Just Dance to burn calories while having fun. Most active video games can be played either solo or with others.

10. Kayaking/canoeing

Maybe watersports are more your style. Kayaking and canoeing can be a solo or group activity and can build upper arm and core strength, as well as burning a good amount of calories. If you live in Metro Detroit you can head to one of the metroparks and rent a kayak for just $10 an hour. Many other cities have canoe and kayak rentals available, as well.


Bonus: Cleaning

Lastly, I threw in a bonus idea. This activity may not be as popular as the first ten, but if you are going to do it anyways, might as well count it as part of your exercise for the day. Cleaning, especially a whole-house spring cleaning, can certainly help you to work up a sweat and can burn several hundred calories depending on the activity!


Let me know your favorite exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise in the comments below!

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