Every year, you tell yourself you won’t overdo it, but inevitably you waddle away from the holidays with a little extra weight and a touch of regret. There are far more interesting ways to burn those calories than boring yourself thin on the treadmill, so grab your sense of adventure and try some of these out instead.
1. Rock Climbing
Even if you’ve never tried before, you can get a terrific workout by rock climbing. Climbing walls have exploded in popularity, and are available to test your skills in a whole variety of gyms and specialized venues. You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment or years of practice to enjoy a sport that will test both your physical and mental endurance. Who knows, you may graduate to the real thing and one day find yourself face up against the granite of the Maine Coast or the sandstone in Utah’s Canyonlands.
Does rock climbing sound too daunting for you? Start by looking for a local rock climbing gym in your city. Rock climbing gyms have everything you need to get started on your training and journey towards climbing real rocks. It's also a great way to meet and talk with people that have all levels of experience of rock climbing.
Whether you like to go it alone or share your craft with a friend, kayaking is one of the best upper-body workouts around. You’ll be working on your back, shoulders and arm strength, even if you’re just paddling around the lake. Sea Kayaking is an even greater challenge, with the wave resistance pushing you to burn those calories more quickly. Just keeping your balance will require you to use muscles you may not have heard from for awhile, so grab a lifejacket and get out there.
There’s not a lot of difference between hiking and going for a walk because one person’s stroll is another man’s challenge. You get to set the pace at which you move from a brisk tour of the neighborhood to rocky trails or hilly ascents. All of it burns calories, and moving around in the great outdoors is great for relieving stress. You’ll soon find yourself craving fresh air and sunshine instead of wishing you still had some pumpkin pie in the cupboard.
Going for a ride is an effective way to shed pounds that doesn’t take a toll on your joints. Like hiking, you get to choose the terrain, and intensity, of your workout. Hill climbs are the fastest way to burn calories, and you should alternate between standing and sitting in the saddle to get the most out of your climb. Throw in a few short bursts of speed and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’re feeling good about yourself again.
Cycling is also a great way to explore the city. If you're in a city like Los Angeles, you can mountain, beach or people watch all at the same time.
5. Martial Arts
If you want the complete package of fat loss, fitness and confidence building, try taking lessons in one of the martial arts. Those who practice competitively are some of the fittest athletes in the world. You’ll get a fantastic cardio workout and build your flexibility, strength, and agility. Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, and judo will keep you away from the kicking and punching, or you can go all out with MMA (mixed martial arts) for the most demanding physical training on the planet. All martial arts will burn tons of calories, and you’ll pick up some useful physical and mental life-skills along the way.
Martial arts is perfect for those who don't just want to be fit but to also acquire a new skill and discipline that will serve you for the rest of your life.
No matter how you choose to burn-off that extra plate of turkey and mash, do it in a way that challenges and intrigues. You’re far more likely to stick with something that pumps your adrenaline, so make it a thrill-ride and explore the joy of getting outside your comfort zone.