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When you think of volleyball you may think about beaches, blondes, and bikinis. While this social and energetic game is definitely played by the shore, you can also find numerous courts in parks and gymnasiums across the country. The game is easy to learn, fun to play, and with nine people on each team, it’s definitely very social in nature. But don’t let that fool you: volleyball may be an enjoyable sport, but it also offers a great aerobic and muscular workout.
There’s no need to take volleyball lessons to learn how to play the game. You can usually find a pickup game at the beach or in a local gym. Some towns have amateur leagues with regular, scheduled matches. The best way to improve your game and learn new skills is with plenty of practice.
The basic rules of the game are fairly simple-hit the ball back and across the net without letting it touch the ground. Volleyball is definitely a team sport, requiring you to work together with your teammates calling out shots and moving strategically to cover all ground so at least one person can get to the ball in time.
The amount of calories you can burn during volleyball depends on how aggressively you play. If you stay on top of the game and consistently go after the balls, the game can be a great cardiovascular workout. In addition, volleyball can help tone your entire body. Your arm and shoulder muscles are used when you hit the ball and your legs are worked when you jump to reach the ball. If you’re playing at the beach, your legs will get an extra workout because of the resistance of the sand.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Before your game, take five to 10 minutes to go for a walk or light jog. This will warm up your muscles and let your heart rate elevate gradually. At the end of the game, you should walk around the court for a few minutes to allow your body to cool down.
Be sure to stretch your calves, hamstrings, quads, and shoulders before and after your game in order to prevent injury and reduce soreness.
If you’re looking for a sport that is fun and challenging, tennis might be the game for you. Because you play against an opponent, you’ll stay focused and won’t even notice that you’re exercising. Tennis can be played with or without a partner. With numerous indoor and outdoor courts around, tennis is a game you can enjoy all year round.
The best way for a beginner to jump into tennis is by taking a lesson with a professional instructor. You’ll learn how to hold the racket and how to hit a backhand, forehand, and serve. Proper grip and stroke technique is important in preventing injuries like tennis elbow, a repetitive overuse injury in the forearm that is caused by holding your racket improperly. Before buying a racket, ask your instructor for tips on what type is right for you. You can usually rent rackets at a pro shop.
Tennis is a sport that requires a lot of time and practice to master. Beginners will enjoy learning the basics of the game and being able to hit the ball across the net. But with practice you’ll learn more advanced skills such as being able to aim the ball to where you want it to land while strategizing the movements and locations of your opponent so you can hit the ball just out of their reach.
Tennis is a competitive sport which requires either two people (singles tennis) or four people (doubles tennis) to play a game. The basic rules and scoring are fairly simple but should be learned prior to playing a game.
Playing a lot of tennis will not only improve your game, but also strengthen and tone your muscles, especially in the arms, legs, and back. Running back and forth across the court to hit the ball will help build endurance. Your aerobic workout will become more intense as you get better because you’ll be able to hold a rally for a longer period of time.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Before starting your game, you should warm up for about 5 to ten minutes by walking or jogging around the court a few times. This will allow your muscles to get warm and your heart rate to increase gradually. If you’ve been playing vigorously, allow yourself a few minutes of cool-down when you are done.
Be sure to stretch your calves, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, shoulders, arms, and back before and after playing in order to prevent injury and reduce soreness.
Tai chi is practiced as a series of graceful motions that flow smoothly into one another while the body is held straight and upright. The continuous movements are gentle and circular, exercising every part of the body equally. The movements are performed slowly and with meditative concentration.
The goal of this ancient Chinese martial art is to cultivate and increase the circulation of “chi” or life energy. Practitioners believe that the free circulation of chi improves health by permitting the blood to circulate freely and by creating balance in the body’s systems.
Tai chi is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. It is a low impact activity and the level of difficulty can be readily adjusted for the participants.
Take a look at a book or video so that you can become familiar with the various types of Tai chi. If you like what you see, visit some schools and make sure the teachers are experienced. Proper training generally takes eight years.
Tai chi takes time and practice. A “form,” or sequence of continuous movements, can include 60 positions and take up to six months to learn. It might take an additional six months to perfect it. Because practice makes perfect, you should also practice on your own. Tai chi can be done just about anywhere, in class, at home, or outside, as there is no special equipment necessary.
In tai chi you learn how to relax even while you are maintaining a strong posture and performing demanding moves. While the controlled motions require plenty of muscle strength, it is typically the lower body that gets a good workout. You can build very strong legs with the leg bending, leg lifts, and lunges.
Tai chi develops concentration, reduces stress, increases muscular endurance and improves posture, balance, coordination, and flexibility.
Tai chi dramatically reduces the risk of falling among the elderly and recent studies have shown that it can also significantly improve flexibility and mobility for people with osteoarthritis.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Since tai chi classes usually include warm-up stretches, you won’t need to do so on your own. And because it is a fairly gentle exercise, it doesn’t require a cool-down. However, you can stretch your entire body after class when your muscles are warm and pliable. This will help to improve your flexibility.
If you want a great workout while having lots of fun, look no further than swing dancing. The history of swing dates back to the 1920s, when people started dancing the Charleston and Lindy Hop to jazz and Big Band music. Harlem, New York is considered to be the birthplace of swing.
Swing dancing was named after its moves - the leading partner actually swings the other person from move to move, including swinging the partner overhead or under the leader's legs. The dance quickly spread across the country, with different regions developing their own unique styles. There are at least 15 different types of swing, including the Lindy Hop, Carolina Shag, Cajun Swing, and West Coast Swing.
You should have no problem finding a swing class at your health club, a dance studio, or even at a community college. It’s a good way to learn the basic steps and a great way to meet people. And don’t feel discouraged or avoid the sport if don’t have anyone to go with you to the class--in most classes, students go solo and dance with each other.
Because you’re constantly in motion, swing dancing offers a great cardiovascular workout. It helps burn fat and tones your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and hips. Swing dancing also builds endurance and stamina.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
You should allow yourself a five to 10-minute warm up before hitting the dance floor. Go for a brisk walk or dance slowly for the first few songs. This will allow your muscles to get warmed up and your heart rate to increase gradually.
At the end of your dance session, walk around the studio or dance floor for several minutes to allow your body to cool down.
Be sure to stretch your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps before and after dancing to prevent injury and reduce soreness.
Swimming is one of the few sports that offer an intense aerobic workout while being gentle on the body. As such, it is a great activity for people of all fitness levels, particularly the elderly or people whose bodies cannot tolerate high-impact workouts. Swimming is also a good activity for pregnant women who want to strengthen their abdominal and back muscles.
You can learn to swim by yourself, but it may be worth your while to invest in a few lessons. There are several different strokes to master and learning to do them correctly will help you maximize your workout and avoid injury. If your health club does not have a pool, check with your local Y for information about group or private lessons.
Before jumping in the pool, it’s a good idea to invest in a bathing suit that fits properly and does not require a lot of adjusting. If your eyes tend to become irritated easily, you may want to purchase a pair of goggles to protect your eyes from the chlorine in the water. If you’re swimming outdoors, make sure to wear a sunscreen of at least spf 15 or higher and reapply every few hours. If this is your first time in the water, it may help to use a kickboard (a light foam board that floats) to support your upper body and be sure to swim where there are lifeguards close by.
Swimming is an intense aerobic exercise that works your arms, abdominals, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. It also tones the body and builds endurance. Because it is low-impact swimming has a lower risk of injury than many other sports.
Another added benefit of swimming is that it may help improve bone health. In a recent study, researchers found that swimming, even if started in adulthood, produces increased bone mineral content, which helps keep bones healthy and strong. Bone mineral content in swimmers was 12 percent higher than in non-swimmers.1
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Begin your workout with a five to 10-minute warm up. That may mean swimming a few laps slowly or going for a quick walk or jog beforehand to warm up your muscles and elevate your heart rate. Slow down the pace at the end of your workout to allow your heart rate to descend gradually.
Be sure to stretch your arms, calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps, before you start to swim and again after cooling down to avoid injury and soreness.
Imagine being in a workout studio with rows and rows of stationary bikes. The light is dim, the music is pulsing, and your instructor is ordering you to push yourself to your physical edge. This is what a typical spinning class, also known as studio or indoor cycling, is like. Not for the faint of heart, these rigorous classes were originally designed to help train professional cyclists.
If you’re interested in taking a spinning class, head to your local health club. Keep in mind that these classes are challenging, so you should be in fairly good cardiovascular shape. If you’ve never taken a class before, get there a few minutes early to learn how to use the bike. You’ll need to learn how to adjust the seat and handlebars to fit your height, how to adjust the tension on the bike for varying degrees of difficulty, how to use the toe clip, and how to brake.
Bring a towel with you--you’ll need something to wipe your handlebars with once your sweat starts flowing. Women should wear a sports bra for extra support.
Like regular outdoor biking, spinning gives you a great cardiovascular workout while building muscle tone and endurance. It works your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, hips, and stomach. It’s also one of the best calorie burners: you’ll expend up to 500 calories in a one-hour session.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Most classes begin with a warm-up, but if yours doesn’t, make sure you do your own before coming to class. Take a brisk walk or jog for five to 10 minutes to get your muscles warm and to elevate your heart rate.
After your workout, if your instructor has not included a cool-down period, take a few minutes to ride slowly or walk around the studio. This will help your heart rate descend gradually.
Be sure to stretch your hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, and glutes at the start of class and again after cooling down to avoid injury and soreness.
Looking for something to do that is fun, social, and gets you moving? Pick up a bat and glove and head out to a baseball field. Whether you choose baseball or softball – a gentler version of the game that uses larger-size balls, smaller diamonds, and underhand pitches – you are sure to have a fun-filled outdoor experience.
The good news about softball and baseball is you don’t have to be in great shape to get started. The brief periods of running, sliding, throwing, and catching are broken up with periods of waiting your turn to bat, which makes this an ideal sport for those wanting a slow-paced workout. But although there are periods of rest, this sport requires a lot of skill and practice to improve your game.
The only things you need to play are a glove, bat, and access to a park. For more intense play, it’s a good idea to wear a batting helmet and the proper shoes to prevent injuries.
If you can’t muster up enough people to form a team, many towns and businesses offer amateur leagues, with games once a week. When buying a glove, start off with an outfielder glove – its larger size will help you catch the ball more easily. Choose a bat that is heavy, but that you can swing easily (heavier bats make the ball go farther and faster).
To play, you need to know the rules, which are easy to pick up by just watching a game of baseball – the rules for the two sports are very similar. To boost your skills, head to a batting cage with ball machines or go to the park with a friend and practice throwing, hitting, and catching.
Baseball and softball are not the most rigorous of all sports, but they do help improve flexibility, strength, and coordination.
Warming-Up and Cooling-Down
It’s important to warm up before playing in order to loosen your muscles and elevate your heart rate. Jogging or a brisk walk around the field should be sufficient. After the game, walk around the field or diamond for a few minutes to cool down. Stretching before and after playing will prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness.
Countless people have made running their exercise of choice and it’s not difficult to imagine why. It can be done anytime, anywhere, and at a relatively low cost. If the outdoor elements are not in your favor on a particular day, you can always try running on a treadmill indoors at home or in the gym. On top of that, running provides an incredible aerobic workout – few other sports burn fat and calories as efficiently. Many people also find that running reduces tension and boosts their energy and sense of well-being. Whether you’re running a few blocks or a few miles you're guaranteed to have fun and get a great aerobic workout.
The best advice for beginners is to start slowly. Many new runners try to do too much too soon, but in order to maintain your enthusiasm and avoid injury, try walking and running a short distance for the first few weeks. You may also want to break up spurts of running with periods of walking to relax your muscles and catch your breath. Remember that you should always be able to maintain a conversation while running; if you are unable to do this, your pace is too fast.
New runners also tend to be eager to lace up their running shoes everyday. When starting out, however, it is generally advisable to limit your runs to every other day to allow your body to recuperate in between workouts. As you get more experienced, you can increase the amount of runs to five or six a week.
Although you may feel like you are ready for longer runs, it is a good idea not to increase your distance by more than three miles a week. This will help prevent injury. As you increase your distance, you will be increasing your endurance, stamina, and overall fitness level. More experienced runners may strive to run a marathon (26.2 miles) which requires intense mental as well physical strength but can be an extremely rewarding and satisfying experience.
Running is one of the best ways to burn calories: a 30-minute run at a moderate pace can burn about 300 calories. It also improves endurance and muscle strength, particularly in the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. A word of warning: running is a high-impact sport and if overdone, can easily lead to injury.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Start your run at a slow pace for 5 to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and increase your heart rate gradually. At the end of your workout, be sure to cool down by slowing your pace for a few minutes.
Stretching before and after a run is a key way to prevent injury and reduce soreness. The main areas you’ll want to focus on are your calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
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There are few sports that test your mental and physical endurance like rock climbing. Although it is a challenging sport, the payoffs are numerous: incredible views from terrain that might otherwise be inaccessible, the gratification of knowing you overcame challenges to make it to the top, and the incredible shape your body gets in.
Rock-climbing gyms are cropping up all over the country, so it is easy for beginners to build their skills and confidence before heading outdoors. It’s a good idea to take lessons to learn the basics of climbing techniques and safety, including how to tie your rope and how to belay your partner. Indoor and outdoor routes are graded according to difficulty level, which means wherever you climb there should be something for everyone, from novice climbers to the most experienced.
Rock climbing is a mental sport as well as a physical sport. Climbers must carefully plan each move to successfully maneuver up the mountain. And since no two climbs are the same, each time you engage in the sport you’ll experience a unique mental and physical challenge.
Rock climbing provides a great overall body workout. Not only do you use your arms and shoulders to pull you up to the next hold, but you also rely on leg strength to propel you. Abdominal strength is also needed to keep your body balanced. The sport also improves flexibility and coordination as you maneuver up the wall.
It is important to keep breathing while you are scaling a route. Although this may sound obvious, many beginner climbers hold their breath during difficult moves, which saps their body of vital strength and energy.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
It’s a good idea to warm up before getting on the wall. Five to 10 minutes spent walking or jogging will warm up your muscles and elevate your heart rate. Start with easier climbs and gradually work your way up to more difficult routes.
Stretching before and after climbing is critical. Give extra attention to your back, arms, chest, shoulders, and quads when stretching to prevent injury and to reduce soreness.
Please Note: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
Imagine a sport that lets you paddle through spectacular fjords, navigate hair-raising rapids, or get near a migrating whale. These are just a few trips you can take if you are on a kayak, a small and maneuverable boat that is appropriate for just about every type of marine environment. And depending on the adventure and workout you’re seeking, you can change the environment to meet you needs-calm waters for a slow, easier, and less intense ride or fast flowing rivers for an intense workout and thrilling experience.
The sport provides a great physical workout and being on the water can help reduce stress and relieve tension. It’s also a sport that you can do alone or with a group of friends-although if you’re beginner you should go with other people the first few times.
When it comes to kayaking, you will definitely want to take lessons before getting out on the water. Most outfitters offer lessons before you rent a boat from them, but it may be worth your while to sign up for a class, especially if you plan on kayaking frequently. There you’ll learn kayaking basics like getting in and out of your boat, stroke and paddling techniques, and how to maneuver your boat when it gets knocked over. If you’re kayaking on a sunny day, make sure to apply a sunscreen of at least spf 15 or higher to all exposed areas of your skin.
Kayaking is a great sport for building endurance and toning muscles, especially in the arms, shoulders and abs. It also provides an intense aerobic workout that can burn several hundred calories per hour. Considering you may be out on the water for several hours at a time, one kayak trip can burn more than 1,000 calories.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
It’s a good idea to warm up before you put the boat in the water. Go for a walk or light jog for about 5 to 10 minutes to allow your muscles to warm up and your heart rate to increase gradually. When you do get in the boat, take a few minutes to paddle slowly before going full force.
At the end of your ride, slow down your pace to cool down. If your workout was especially rigorous, you may want to walk around the shore for a few minutes after you’ve gotten out of the kayak.
Be sure to stretch your arms, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps before and after paddling to prevent injury and reduce soreness.