Maybe you’re averse to cold-weather outdoor miles, maybe you’re nursing an injury, or maybe you’ve spent a lot of time putting one foot in front of the other and want to spice up your exercise! No matter the motivation, cross training is something that can benefit all athletes and keep you strong, healthy, and mentally engaged in exercise. Here are some fun activities that are good ways to challenge your body and AREN’T running or walking!
Swimming is an all-around amazing way to stay fit. It is an extremely challenging activity with low risk of injury, and it offers a plethora of unique health benefits. In addition to helping you keep up your cardio-vascular health, swimming also takes the weight off of your joints, and the gentle water pressure can help flush your lymphatic system, ridding your body of toxins. It is a great option for those who experience pain or discomfort when walking or running!
2. Weight Lifting
Cardio is great and all, but don’t ignore strength! Weight lifting, when done safely and with proper form, can have significant positive effects on your overall health. It forces you to work on stability, isolate important muscle groups, and can improve bone health! The more varied your training is, the better your body will feel, so don’t be afraid to mix in some weight training with your mileage plan!
If we are being completely honest with ourselves, stretching is something that most of us could probably use more of (looking at you, runners), but many of us don’t know where to start. Taking an online yoga class is a great way to guide you through a stretching sequence while getting in a gentle workout. While encouraging flexibility, mobility, and stability, yoga is an amazing way to prevent injuries and become more in tune with your body!
Moving to music is an awesome way to get your mind off the workout and have some fun! There are so many varieties of dance to choose from, and each comes with its own challenge and benefits. West African will give you an excellent quad workout and sense of rhythm, while salsa will improve your agility and test your muscle memory! Look into dance studios near you and see if they’re offering virtual or socially distanced classes.
5. Rock Climbing
We had to put this one on the list because two members of the RTE team are avid climbers (in fact, the picture above is our very own Mimi!). It’s our favorite thing to do that doesn’t involve steps! Climbing can sound like an intimidating way to cross train, but we promise it is so much fun and way easier than you think! We put a lot of strain on our lower bodies when we’re racking up those miles, so rock climbing is a great way to flip the tables— give your legs a break, and put your upper body to work! Fear of heights? No problem! Try bouldering, which uses no ropes or harnesses, lots of squishy pads, and only lets you climb up to 15 or so feet off the ground (that's what Mimi is demonstrating above!).
6. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
Challenge yourself with a full-body workout that centers around heart rate variability and active recovery! This may not be a good option for those who can’t walk or run due to an injury (there are a lot of compound movements and it's pretty strenuous), but it is a perfect option for someone looking to move their workouts indoors for colder months or simply wants more variety in their exercise!
No matter what your cross training goals or interests are, it is always beneficial to switch up your exercise! If you are trying a form of exercise for the first time, it is important to consult an expert or someone with plenty of experience in the activity so that you can avoid injury and get the most out of your new workout! Have fun, be safe, and stay healthy!