In the busy world that we live in today, there are many ways to exercise. Some of suggestions listed below are sports, others are specific types of exercise - all of them will make you sweat. They are ranked on their physical difficulty meaning that if you thought you could just start them and would find that they would be easy …. think again!

1.  Marathon Running
Test your physical and mental strength by completing a marathon! The marathon official distance is 26.219 miles (42.195 km) long. It can be completed by running, walking, run/walk/run strategy or by wheelchair. It is a challenging event because of its duration.

 Benefits are:

  • You will burn lots of calories and lose weight - training for a marathon requires a lot of effort and discipline but it will turn your body into a calorie burning machine.
  • You will travel to new destinations – by participating in marathons in various cities and countries, you will discover new places and see a wide range of local areas in the race.
  •  It boosts your confidence – by setting and achieving goals, it releases positive endorphins that can help give you a greater sense of empowerment.
  •  It relieves stress – when you run, you force your body to exert excess energy and hormones.  Running helps you sleep better and it reduces the risk of developing tension headaches.

2.  Gymnastics
Gymnastics is a sport that includes exercises requiring strength, balance, flexibility, agility, co-ordination and endurance.

 Benefits are:

  • It will make you very strong - gymnasts are naturally among the strongest people in the world.
  • You’ll impress your friends - being able to do a backflip or a free-standing handstand will get you that wow response from your friends.
  • You’ll increase your flexibility - working on backbends and pikes require more flexibility than the average workout.
  • It helps you to learn to fall better without hurting yourself – gymnasts fall all the time so you’ll have perfected the art of falling without injury. 

3. Triathlons
A triathlon is a multisport race with three continuous and sequenced endurance races. The most common form includes swimming/cycling/running over various distances. It is a whole body workout developing strength in the upper mid-section and lower body.

 Benefits are:

  • You will lose weight due to the cross-training effects of swimming, cycling and running.
  • You will learn to handle stress more effectively as it pumps up your endorphins to make you feel less stressed about situations that normally bother you.
  • You will spice up your training!  Triathlons mean never having to work through that some old boring workout - if you’re tired of swimming, you switch to cycling or running.
  • You will set new challenges for yourself. If you’re getting sick of the same old sport or gym programme, a triathlon is perfect when you need a new challenge.  It’s a great way for beginners to try out all three sports at once.

4.  Metafit
Metafit is a high-intensity workout including a series of bodyweight exercises with interval style training designed to keep your body burning calories long after your training session is complete.

It is a super-efficient way of training which means you can spend less time training each week while still cashing in on all the fat burning metabolism boosting and heart-pounding benefits. Metafit exercises can be tweaked to suit your fitness level whilst still maintaining the intensity for an effective HIIT workout. 

Benefits are:

  • No equipment is needed – all you need is a great instructor and some Metafit beats.
  • It is an efficient workout - you can burn as many calories in 20 minutes of Metafit as you would jogging on a treadmill for an hour.
  • It takes the boredom out of training and presents even the most seasoned exercises with a challenge.
  • It increases your metabolism – it stimulates the production of the human growth hormone in the 24 hours post workout. This hormone is not only responsible for burning more calories but is also responsible slows down the aging process.

5.  Zumba
Zumba is an exercise fitness programme that involves dance and aerobic movements performed to energetic music.  The choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, and mambo.  Bodyweight exercises such as squats and lunges are also included in this activity.

Benefits are:

  •  It burns calories - 300 to 600 calories can be burned in a 45 minute session.
  •  It improves posture and flexibility – you’ll be working out unique muscle groups and accustoming their joints to more unusual movements and stretches.
  •  It increases co-ordination – the multi-tasking elements of Zumba, as well as graceful dancelike motions, can keep your body well balanced and unified.
  •  It reduces anxiety – Zumba boosts your mood by releasing endorphins that can eliminate stress hormones in the body.

6.  Calisthenics
The word Calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek words Kalos which means beauty and Sténos meaning strength. Calisthenics is a form of physical training focused on teaching you to master your own bodyweight using minimal equipment.  

Using the resistance of your own body to build strength, increase flexibility and burn fat, the exercises can be performed anywhere there is a floor and enough space to move around in. Instead of using plates, barbells, dumbbells or machines, you use what weight you already have – move your body through different motions to make you stronger and improve your physique.

Calisthenics Workout – Monday/Wednesday/Friday
1.  Push-up: 3 sets max reps
2.  Chin-ups: 3 sets max reps
3.  Single leg squats: 3 sets max reps
4.  Bench dips: 3 sets max reps
5.  Ham-glute raises: 3 sets max reps
6.  Calf raises: 3 sets max reps
7.  Handstand push-ups: 3 sets max reps
8.  Crunches: 5 sets 25 reps

Benefits are:

  • Increased muscle and tone - calisthenics are one of the only ways to build muscle mass and strength without the use of weights.
  • Flexibility – when you get stronger, you also become more flexible.
  • Weight loss – a circuit of calisthenic exercise will increase your heart rate burning additional calories contributing to weight loss.
  • Calisthenics will improve endurance – meaning ‘staying power’ associated with the ability to withstand hardship or suffering during an exercise programme.

7.  Boxercise
Boxercise is an exercise class based on the training concepts boxers use to keep fit.  Classes take a variety of formats but a typical one may involve hitting pads, kicking punch bags, press-ups, hitting punch bags, shuttle runs and sit-ups. Boxercise classes are aimed at men and women of all ages and fitness standards. As no class involves the physical hitting of an opponent, it is a fun, challenging and safe workout.

Benefits are:

  • Great for aerobic fitness, boxing provides a useful balance between cardio and resistance training with no treadmill in sight.  With a combination of steady cardio and high-intensity blasts, your heart rate will be increased as you punch and move.
  • De-stress – although there is no physical contact, it enables you to release your stress by channelling your aggression.  
  • Lose weight – because it is high-intensity training, you have the additional benefit of shredding those excess calories.
  • Tone your muscles – a boxing training session involves every muscle in the body, especially the core and shoulders.  A good boxercise tones legs, abdominals, chest, shoulders and back – that’s pretty much everything!

8.  Sprinting
 Sprinting is running as hard as you can for short periods of time, typically 400 metres or less. Most people think of long distance when it comes to running.

Benefits are:

  • Lose body fat fast - sprint training is one of the best forms of conditioning to produce significant fat loss and it does so in an amazingly small amount of training time.
  • Build muscle - sprint training will help you build muscle as it boosts your testosterone levels which will lead to building muscle and fat loss allowing you to look leaner and run faster.
  • Build mental toughness - sprint training can and needs to be done in a short amount of total training time. Sprints are hard and they hurt. Although there will be moments of doubt when you are in the middle of a sprint workout, you must not give in. By pushing through the physical discomfort and pain, you will build confidence in your physical and emotional ability.
  • Prevent depression - sprint training improves hormone balance and makes you happier as just about every form of exercise has shown to reap some mental health benefits. 

9.  Pilates
Pilates is a form of exercise which concentrates on strengthening the body with an emphasis on core strength. Pilates concentrates on posture, balance and flexibility and the chance of injury is much lower than with other strenuous forms of exercise. Pilates also focuses on the mind-body connection.

Benefits are:

  • It improves posture – no matter what your daily activities are whether its carrying groceries, brushing your teeth or doing some gardening, Pilates makes you aware of the importance of pulling your stomach in and pulling your shoulders down for good posture and alignment.
  • It improves breathing – the careful attention to breathing patterns practiced in Pilates not only improves breathing patterns during your workout but also improves blood circulation in the body.
  • It improves muscle strength and tone – your abdominal muscles, lower back, hips, and buttocks all remain contracted and engaged during a Pilates workout.  The constant tension helps build better endurance and strength.
  • It improves flexibility – Pilates is a great way to improve the flexibility of your muscles and the mobility of joints. Regular practice not only relieves aches and pains but will make every movement feel easier from putting on your socks in the morning to getting out of a chair at the end of the day.

10.  Yoga
Yoga is a mind-body practice with a 5000-year history in ancient Indian philosophy. Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques and meditation or relaxation. 
Benefits are:

  • It improves flexibility – during your first class, you may not be able to touch your toes but if you stick with it, you will notice a gradual loosening and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible.
  • It increases your blood flow – yoga gets your blood flowing. Relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga boosts levels of haemoglobin and red blood cells which carry oxygen to tissues and this can lead to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes.
  •  It can make you happier - consistent yoga practice can lead to a significant increase in serotonin levels which can decrease the risk of depression.
  •  It improves your balance – regularly practising yoga increases proprioception.  Better balance could mean fewer falls. Positions like tree pose build strength in the ankles and calves and tones abdominal muscles which make us feel less wobbly!

Kieran Keenan is an advanced personal trainer and the owner of Fitsquad.