Ten types of exercise to shoot your mood to the skies

Non-traditional ways to stay active during quarantine

By Natalie Foote

At this point in quarantine, time is an illusion. The structured days that many have been accustomed to are gone, and with them, productivity. But not all hope is lost: exercise can add structure to your day and help you take breaks. While it has been widely advertised that quarantine is the perfect time to “get into the best shape of your life,” or “lose an unrealistic amount of weight in a ridiculously short amount of time,” these workouts or programs are often repetitive and make exercise a chore instead of a fun way to release stress. So, here are ten ways to get moving that make exercise enjoyable.

1. Have a dance party

Every hour or so, take a break, crank up those beats, and dance! Even if it’s just for a song or two, dancing has proven cognitive benefits, is a natural mood booster, and can burn up to 300 calories per half hour. That’s the same as a light jog or swim. Ready to take it up a notch? Countless YouTube and TikTok videos can help you learn some new moves to add to your routine.

2. Make cleaning fun

With the right mindset, cleaning can be exercise and be fun. Try turning it into a game. Need to dust the house? Come up with a point system, then race a family member to see who can get the most points in ten minutes. Now, you’ve spent ten minutes running around the house and cleaning without even thinking about exercise. This game isn’t limited to dusting. Take any task and add a time limit or a point system. This will take your mind off of both cleaning and exercise while you work to win the game.

3. Go on a photography walk

Not many people can resist taking pictures of a cool tree or a pretty sunset. So, make a walk out of it! Bring along your phone or camera, throw on some tunes or enjoy the sounds of nature, and go. You won’t even realize how much exercise you’re doing. Squatting for that perfect camera angle? Exercise. Tip-toeing on a curb to get that incredible view? Exercise. Walking beside a field of flowers? Exercise. Even a quick twenty-minute walk can burn 100 calories and leave you with great photos.

4. Fun challenges

The challenges vary, but usually, you follow a workout based on how your name is spelled, a deck of cards, events that happen in a TV show or movie, and many more. Choose something you’re interested in and look it up on the internet. There’s something out there for everyone.

5. Build your own workout

Going online to wade through an endless stream of workouts can be overwhelming and time-consuming, but there’s a solution: make your own workout. With some help, building your own routine can motivate you to go through with it. Setting goals and building a custom routine and schedule will not only help you take control of your fitness, but it will also be a fun experience. It’s your chance to experiment.

6. Stand more often

If you’re against anything and everything that even remotely resembles exercise, this one’s for you. Everyone walks and stands every day. Just do it more! Find a surface in your house that could work as a standing desk, like a kitchen counter, a dresser, or even a shelf. Then work for a few hours while standing up. Since you’re focusing on your work, standing won’t be much of a difference, and you’ll be burning between 100-200 calories every hour just by standing. Standing while working has also been linked to increased productivity. You’re exercising while getting work done faster—a win-win situation. 

7. Walk while you work

If you have a treadmill with handles, find a flat board to set across them, set your speed to a comfortable walking pace, and start working. This can be tricky to get used to, but it gets your blood flowing, and with it, your ideas. Even if you don’t have a treadmill, you can incorporate waking into your study routine by walking while listening to review videos or other auditory material. Since you’re focusing on a task, walking won’t seem so boring.

8. Play video games

Yes, you read that right—video games. Video games are often associated with laziness, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Tons of video games can get you moving, like the classic Wii Sports or Just Dance and even Virtual Reality (VR) games. All that standing and turning can keep you moving for hours. Even a game that isn’t VR and doesn’t involve moving can be played while standing up instead of sitting down. 

9. Punch anything and everything

Okay, well maybe not your little sister, or your wall, or your fridge. Find something soft like a pillow, mattress, or the air around you. Then go for it! Make sure your form is good, but otherwise, unleash your anger on that unsuspecting pillow. Similar to mini dance parties, mini punching sessions can help you easily incorporate exercise into your day. Boxing burns more calories than any other sport at about 800 calories per hour, so those mini sessions add up! If punching gets boring, learn different moves or look up workouts on YouTube.

10. Amateur parkour

Amateur parkour is one of the most fun ways to exercise for those with an adventurous spirit. While traditional parkour is hard-core and usually dangerous, amateur parkour offers the excitement of parkour while still being safe. There is no official definition of what “amateur” parkour is, so it’s what you make of it. Jumping off a few curbs with some spin jumps, tumbling in your front yard, or building a mini obstacle course are great ways to get started. To make it even more fun, try video-recording yourself to show your friends and family!

No matter what you choose, get moving. Exercise releases endorphins, a natural mood booster. And taking breaks for physical activity helps people be more productive. So, out with boring and repetitive exercise and in with fun ways to get moving!


A girl types and walks on a treadmill. Photo by Natalie Foote. 

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