We explore the workouts that make you feel better inside and out – without major stress on the body.
While some of us love to get hot and sweaty with a good cardio session or going for a long run, there are some of us, well… who don’t.
These people (who may or may not include myself), would much rather burn some calories in a more relaxing way, or in a way that doesn’t feel so much like ‘working out’.
Which brings me to possibly the greatest news of my exercising life, there are in fact relaxing (yes, relaxing) ways to burn calories (and lots of them).
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Head of Training at The Australian Institute of Fitness Kate Kraschnefski tells Body + Soul her top 6.
Not only is dancing fun and social but it is “a whole-body workout,” Kate says.
“It’s good for your heart, it makes you stronger, and it can help with balance and coordination. Learning to dance is not only an excellent way to physically improve your health, but can boost your emotions, as well! Dancing has shown to increase self-confidence and self-esteem by providing an expressive outlet and the opportunity to learn something new and fun.”
But if your dancing resembles something more like Elaine from Seinfeld rather than J.Lo, or if you simply can’t get anywhere to dance (hello Covid-19) having a bop around the house can still burn some serious calories and be super fun too.
“Make a playlist of your all-time favourite tunes and have a boogie,” Kate suggests. “This should burn around 200 calories in half an hour for the average person and is also sure to boost your mood.”
Cleaning the house
While not everyone finds cleaning relaxing, we all know it needs to be done… eventually. So, housework fan or not, why not combine the two activities and as Kate says, “shape up, while you clean up!”
“Similar to dancing, set yourself a playlist for some energetic and motivating tunes to get you through your weekly set of chores. The bonus? For the average person, light cleaning will burn around 170 calories per hour, but it gets closer to 200+ if there is scrubbing or deep cleaning involved.”
“While there are many types of Yoga, they all have in common the benefit of mind-body connection and assisting us to become more present,” Kate explains.
“If relaxation is your goal, try even 30minutes of Hatha Yoga. This should burn around 150 calories and also help you achieve some daily Zen. Go for longer or a more challenging type of Yoga if you want more of a burn.”
With many of us walking more than ever before due to Covid-19 lockdowns and our need to get our daily vitamin d and social fix, it can also burn some mean calories.
“Walking at a moderate pace is a great way to burn calories and improve your overall body composition. If you go for 45 minutes or more, you’ll be sure to be tapping into your fat-burning energy system. In addition to the calorie burn, walking is great for heart health and general wellbeing.
To assist feelings of relaxation, try a long walk at the end of a busy day. The average person should burn around 250 calories in an hour,” says Kate.
“Even If you are not a swimmer, completing mindful movements you would normally do on land like walking or jogging while immersed in water can burn extra calories. Because water offers heavier resistance than air, working out in the pool or ocean can make the same exercises that you would do on land more challenging,” Kate explains.
And calorie wise, a leisurely swim can burn about 200 calories in 30 minutes! So, with the warmer months approaching this may be the perfect time to dive right in.
Training with weights
Finally, Kate explains one exercise that will literally have you burning calories while watching Netflix! That’s right, burning calories while doing absolutely nothing (other than important viewing of course!)
“While a weights workout itself is not the most relaxing thing in the world, having more lean muscle mass means that you actually burn more calories all the time, even when you are doing absolutely nothing. And how relaxing is that?
Muscle is metabolically active tissue. Having more of it requires more calories to maintain and to move around. Even after a weights session, you are burning more calories than other types of training as your muscles repair and regrow as a result of the stimuli that has been applied. This elevated state can last for up to 48 hours, depending on the intensity of your workout.”
Kate Kraschnefski is the Head of Training at The Australian Institute of Fitness
Shona Hendley is a freelance writer and ex-secondary school teacher. You can follow her on Instagram here.