There's little I love more than a good run or high-energy kickboxing class where you leave completely covered and dripping with sweat. There's something about being drenched that signals—to me—that I've had a really good workout, really given it my all. But I'm not normal. I know that for most people, especially those who don't like exercise, sweating has a big ick factor to it.|
Sweat can get in your eyes, it can make you smelly, and it can really mess up your hair. And let's face it: Some people hate sweating so much that they don't like to work out But don't throw out your workout with the sweat puddles. Even though heart-pumping and sweat-inducing high-intensity exercise is often touted for its health and weight-loss benefits, low-intensity workouts have their perks, too. In fact, a three-month study from the University of Queensland in Australia found that subjects who did Tai Chi (a graceful mix of gentle exercise, stretching and meditation) regularly for 90 days—without any high-intensity activity—had decreases in blood pressure, blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Not to mention that they also reported lower levels of depression, slept better, had more energy, and dealt with stress more easily.
Oftentimes lower-intensity exercise can be more enjoyable than more intense forms of exercise because it's more comfortable. We all know that exercise that is more comfortable and enjoyable—not some sweaty form of torture—is exercise that you want to do for the long haul. And any exercise you do regularly is good exercise! Below are eight no-sweat, lower-intensity workouts. If you're someone who avoids exercising because you think you'll have to shower afterwards or will spend the time gasping for air, think again. These eight activities are perfectly stress- and sweat-free!
Pilates exercises, which are based on dance, yoga, gymnastics and calisthenics, are designed to strength the core, lengthen the body and improve posture (think of the body of a ballerina). This form of exercise involves little to no cardio work, but instead builds on moves that target the abs, back and overall core strength. With Pilates you won't be sweating per se, but you'll definitely be feeling the burn with moves like The Hundred, Double Leg Stretch and other challenging exercises that mix focused breathing with serious core work.
Get started tip: Check out Coach Nicole's 12-minute Pilates Video!Water Workouts
If you hate to sweat, working out in the water is awesome because even if you are sweating, you won't even know it! Swimming can be an incredibly relaxing workout that works your whole body with little impact on your joints, so it's perfect for people with significant amounts of weight to lose or individuals with injuries or arthritis. Whether it's lap swimming, a water aerobics class or channeling your inner kid and just doggie paddling down and back at the pool, jumping in the water can do wonders for your health.
Get started tip: Take the plunge for the first time.Walking
It doesn't get much easier or more natural than walking. You can walk outdoors, indoors or on the treadmill. It doesn't really matter where you are as long as you get moving. Research shows that walking may help just about every health ailment you can think of. It reduces heart attack risk, manages weight, controls blood pressure, lengthens life span and reduces your risk of breast cancer—just to name a few. The other great thing about walking is that it can be as intense as you want it to be. You just want to make sure that you're walking at a fast enough pace to be slightly out of breath while still being able to hold a conversation. As long as it's not 80 degrees outside or in your climate-controlled health club, you shouldn't break much of a sweat.
Get started tip: Read up on SparkPeople's comprehensive Walking Guide.Cleaning the House
Doing chores around the house definitely feels like work, but did you realize that it could be considered a workout, too? Talk about multitasking! Light housework such as dusting, taking out the trash, organizing and changing the sheets burns about 170 calories an hour for a 150-pound person. Heavier, more intense chores such as sweeping the floor, washing windows, scrubbing the floors and cleaning out the garage can burn more than 250 calories an hour. And it doesn't just have to be in the home. Working in the yard can burn serious calories, too. Pushing a power mower for 20 minutes burns about 95 calories, and raking can burn 137 calories in 30 minutes.
Get started tip: Turn house cleaning into a home workout.Tai Chi
As mentioned in the study above, Tai Chi is a very gentle, meditative activity that is rooted in martial arts. One 30-minute session of Tai Chi burns about 84 calories for a 150-pound man or woman and can result in both fitness gains and stress reduction. The ancient Chinese form of exercise promotes balance, coordination and stretching—all good things for your health!
Get started tip: Check your local health club, martial arts studio or community recreation center for a beginning Tai Chi class to see if it's the right activity for you. You can even purchase or rent a Tai Chi workout DVD!Strength Training
On SparkPeople, we often tout the benefits of strength training. After all, lifting weights builds muscles, boosts metabolism and helps you to do everyday activities more easily. But the best part of strength training to those who don't like to sweat? It doesn't have to take a lot of time or a lot or perspiration to get your lift on. In fact, by doing a few push-ups, squats, lunges and triceps dips, you can get a full-body strength workout in less time than it takes you to shower—which you won't need to do if you take a quick 30-second break between moves to keep your heart rate down to a no-sweat level.
Get started tip: Check out this 20-minute resistance band workout that you can do anywhere!Yoga
Similar to Tai Chi and Pilates, yoga is another mind-body exercise that is perfect for those who like to move without getting sweaty or too out of breath. It can reduce stress and increase strength and flexibility. It may also improve body image, as a study published by the University of California at Berkley shows that women who practice yoga have better body image and less disordered eating patterns than women who take part in traditional aerobic exercise.
Get started tip: Find the perfect style of yoga for you. (Just don't choose "hot" Bikram yoga—it's designed to make you sweat!)10-Minute Bursts
Yes, this list is supposed to only include low-intensity, no-sweat workouts, but I couldn't resist throwing in the idea of doing 10-minute exercise bursts. These 10-minute exercise bouts are usually a tad more intense, but they're quick, easy to squeeze into a busy schedule and are the perfect way to do "something" even when you don't feel like it. Plus, recent research shows that short spurts of exercise have similar benefits to longer workouts—cool, right? The saying really is true: Don't sweat the small stuff.
Get started tip: Try one of Coach Nicole's workout DVDs. Filled with 10-minute routines, you can use them to mix and match your perfect workout.
Just remember that if you're looking to burn a lot of calories, you'll need to do these lower intensity activities longer than a traditional high-intensity workout—but every bit counts. What's your favorite no-sweat workout?