Who says a good sweat sesh has to happen within the confines of a gym or fitness studio? Definitely not us! In fact, we are all about breaking health and wellness boundaries both literally and metaphorically. The gym is a great resource, but spending too much time there can get boring and deprive you of fresh air, sunshine, and some essential vitamin D. Plus, it only addresses one facet of health—the physical—when an all-around wellness plan needs to involve the mental, too. Here are some great ways to be wholly healthy outside the gym.
Break Boundaries: Workout Outside or At Home
Physical fitness need not occur solely within a fitness center. There are a ton of amazing ways you can get sweaty, burn cals and build muscle without a membership, including:
- Signing up for online fitness programs that introduce you to and guide you through programs like yoga, Pilates, Zumba and spinning.
- Joining a running group that meets weekly or monthly to run together and then do something social afterward, like hitting up a brewery or going to dinner.
- Going hiking and signing up for an app like AllTrails that lets you discover hiking trails and track and rate the trails you’ve conquered.
- Joining a competitive adult sports league where you meet up and play softball, basketball, kickball or frisbee golf on a team.
- Taking a rock climbing lesson and heading out to the ledges. Climbing is a ridiculously good strength and toning activity for the upper body.
- Go dancing with your friends at the bar. Just make sure to be super hydrated before you go out, go easy on the cocktails and hydrate again when you get home.
- Go ice skating or roller skating. Seriously, you’d be surprised to see how many calories you can burn from 30 minutes of laps around the rink (not to mention the sore ab and cheek muscles from the laughter that usually ensues).
Go Zen: Be Mindful and Meditate
We hate to be bandwagoners, but there is a reason why meditation seems to be so in vogue these days. Practiced by everyone from Oprah and Steve Jobs to Lady Gaga and Kat Dennings, meditation is the hottest well-being trend among health-minded celebs and wellness gurus. Though it seems ultra-trendy, the practice of meditation is actually legit ancient—it was started sometime between 5,000 to 3,500 BCE as a pathway to inner peace and spirituality.
But does it actually work? Surprisingly, yes, and not just because it helps make you feel more relaxed, mindful, spiritual and clear-headed. It also has measurable physical benefits, with some studies suggesting that regularly practicing meditation can lead to a reduction in physical pain, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression and insomnia. It also has been used to reduce symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. Sign us up, please!
Hydrate: Drink More Water
If you do nothing else to improve your health and well-being, do this: drink more water. It sounds so cliché, but the fact is that getting around eight glasses a day (give or take, depending on your lifestyle and age), is a huge deal. Besides, you know, literally keeping you alive, water helps keep your brain functioning properly and gives you a natural energy boost so that you are at the top of your game when you head to the gym or have to slay at work. Invest in a long-lasting, refillable glass water bottle that doubles as an accessory so it always stays by your side and full.
Eat Well: Go to (Healthy) Brunch
Who says brunch has to be unhealthy? Skip the bottomless mimosas and opt instead for fresh green juice and tempeh sausage. The truth is that going out to eat in general—whether it be Sunday brunch or an app-heavy Thursday happy hour—is healthier than you might think, primarily because it brings a social element to your life. The health benefits of socializing include decreased feelings of depression, a lower risk of dementia and even a longer life.
Of course, as with everything on this list, balance and moderation are key, and too much dining out can be unhealthy if you don’t know exactly what’s going into your food. With that being said, it’s not a good idea to ban yourself from the pleasures of life, especially if it involves sharing the occasional overpriced omelet or double-shot latte with a group of people who make you laugh and provide support. So go ahead and make those plans a couple of times a week!
Talk it Out: Go to Therapy
Working out your stuff with your friends over a good meal is always a great way to clear your head and feel better, but nothing’s quite as indulgent as paying someone to listen to you ramble. Incorporating regular therapy sessions into your routine can help you feel calmer, happier and more confident. And the cool thing is that, these days, you don’t even have to get in your car to get there. You can use one of the many highly-rated therapy apps or invest in a virtual therapist.
Enjoy Life and Don’t Dwell
On the path of good health and self-improvement, remember to go easy on yourself. The occasional slip-up is no biggie if your general lifestyle and daily activities support your overarching goals to live well, healthy and happy, so don’t dwell on bad days. By taking your wellness strategy outside the gym walls, you give yourself mental and social benefits that make you feel good every single day without even having to think about it.