By Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
While staying serious about your workout plan is a good thing, it doesn't mean you can't have a little fun with exercise now and then! In fact, a silly workout may help you burn more calories and reinvigorate your usual routine--all while engaging your abs thanks to all the laughter! Check out some of these crazy-fun workouts that offer some real health and fitness benefits.
What It Is: These specially designed "rebound exercise shoes" claim to be the world's lowest impact shoes available, and can be worn for everything from dancing, running, jumping and during their custom fitness classes.
Why It's Beneficial: They are kind of like having mini-trampolines strapped to the bottom of your shoes, but they look way cooler (think moon shoes)! If you need to stay away from higher impact moves like running or jumping, strapping on a pair of these means you can run and bounce pain-free—and rack up a great calorie burn. Not to mention, you'll probably get plenty of attention and meet some new people by wearing them in public. Check them out in action in this fun dance class video!
Photo Courtesy of: http://www.kangoo-jumps.com/
What It Is: Just like it sounds, this form of yoga involves actually laughing while you move! It typically involves less yoga and more laughter than its name implies, and can be done by people of all shapes, sizes, ages and fitness levels. Sure, it seems kind of ridiculous when you see it in action, but the results aren't: Laughter yoga has actually been proven to help relieve the serious symptoms of depression, for example.
Why It's Beneficial: Even if you aren't struck by something funny, simply creating fake laughter sounds can help release stress and anxiety. Laughter yoga is especially helpful for anyone who may have been previously intimidated by the seriousness of yoga and help lighten the mood when trying a new form of the mind-body practice. Learn more about laughter yoga here.
What It Is: Hula hooping is a fun way for anyone to fit in fitness. It involves using special hoops in various colors and sizes with choreographed routines.
Why It's Beneficial: Research conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that hooping is a cardiovascular (aerobic) workout. Their very small study looked at "intermediate to advanced" female hoopers. When the subjects followed a 30-minute hooping video that included seven different hooping "dances," their heart rates elevated significantly--near 85% MHR, which is high-intensity aerobic exercise for sure.
The study found that the hoopers burned about 210 calories in 30 minutes (so roughly 420 calories per hour), which is comparable to traditional fitness classes. Additionally, hooping is a great way to challenge your core and focus your mind.
What It Is: Zumba is one of the most popular fitness trends around, and water exercise has been around a while, too. Put them together: and you're doing Aqua Zumba: Zumba dancing in the shallow end of a pool, led by an Aqua Zumba instructor! Participants stand waist deep in a pool and follow along to dance routines in impact-absorbing, resistance-promoting water. If splashing around to music in the water seems silly to you, don't laugh it off till you've tried it. It's much more challenging than it looks—and a ton of fun!
Why It's Beneficial: Not only will you still burn plenty of calories, you get the added benefit of water resistance (about 12 times that of exercise done on land), without the impact on your knees, hips or ankles. Learn more about Aqua Zumba here.
What It Is: Pole fitness is a hot trend that you'll find in high-end fitness clubs and home gyms alike. While most people think of pole dancing as something that happens in a strip club, pole fitness competitions are serious business—and require amazing strength, grace, coordination and fitness. Pole fitness classes and DVDs teach novices the basic skills to learn impressive moves and help build strength and stamina in a fun, out-of-the-box way to think about fitness.
Why It's Beneficial: Try a pole fitness class, and you'll likely get a great combination of cardio, strength-building exercises and flexibility as well as build skills and coordination that'll make your friends jealous (and your partner blush). The better you get at pole fitness, the stronger and fitter you become! Learn more at www.xpertpolefitness.com.
What It Is: Rebounding is just another name for exercising on a mini-trampoline, and it's definitely a fun and effective form of fitness! Rediscover the fun you had on the trampoline as a kid, while appreciating the benefits of a no-impact workout that you crave as an adult.
Why It's Beneficial: Not only can rebounding be a great cardio workout, but some rebounding classes or workouts also offer a toning element to help strengthen and slim your body. And, proponents say it even helps boost circulation, stimulate your metabolism and improve your body's cell function. SparkGuy's a fan!
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