Make Exercise a Blast
Zorbing, caving and kiteboarding—oh my.
Before the winter chill forces you back into your living room to hibernate, this is your last chance to drag yourself outside and get moving. What, nobody to do it with? Well, we've got a heaping helping of fun stuff to do that will trick your friends into working out with you (and have fun at the same time).
Go balls to the wall with Kickball! If you're the kid that was always picked last for this schoolyard game, now is the time to put your big boy brawn behind the ball and exact some revenge. Kick-ball is making a comeback, popping up in co-ed leagues across the nation, with nearly 200 leagues nationwide. You'll not only get a kick out of pelting your pals in the head, you'll also like the calorie-burning payoff. Canadian researchers found that just six minutes of intense exercise a week can keep people as fit as three hour-long jogs, but there's a catch. Those six minutes need to come from four 30-second bursts of all-out effort with four-minute rests in between each sprint, making your sprint from base-to-base a killer way to get your heart-rate up and your pant-size down. According to the World Adult Kickball Association, the average 200 lb-guy will burn 455 calories during a typical 60-minute kickball game. Not bad for an hour's work.
If your idea of an underground expedition is cleaning out your basement, try digging a little deeper. Essentially reversed rock climbing, caving requires climbers to pair up with a buddy to negotiate vertical drops, using rope and reverse climbing and crawling techniques. "Caving really hits you at all angles. You get your heart-rate moving by the aerobic demands but then you also build muscle by hoisting your own weight around," said Dengel. Unless you're an experienced caver, stick to the commercial caverns, which are public or privately maintained caves that are easily accessible to the general public, many of which can be found at www.gorp.com.
Whether it's on a white water river, Deliverance-style, on a placid pond or, if you're brave, the open ocean, a good paddle will burn several hundred calories in an hour, working your arms, back and torso. "In a kayak or a canoe you provide all the power to get that boat moving. Sustain that power for the duration and you'll see some serious benefits," said Donald Dengel, Ph.D., associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Minnesota's Clinical Research Center.
But don't pass kayaking off as a strictly upper-body workout, if you're a proper paddler, a firm core and fully engaged legs help add to your power and keep you balanced. If you and your buddy opt for a two-person kayak, don't think you can mooch a free ride by letting him do all the work. In fact, doubling up will help keep you on your toes, requiring intense coordination between the paddlers to keep upright and synchronize movement. A 2-hour paddle on a class 2 rapid river is equivalent to doing 3000 crunches. You decide which you'd rather do.
Getting blown away doesn't have to be a bad thing. Take your friends on a wild ride on the wind with Kiteboarding. This sport is about harnessing the wind any way you can and it uses serious arm and core muscles to do it. "I've seen people's bodies completely transform in a month of kiteboarding," says pro kiteboarder and editor of The Kiteboarder magazine Ryan Riccitelli. But, Riccitelli says, you don't have to be superman to take a wild ride on the wind. "Absolutely anyone can do it; with proper instruction I've seen a six-year old kid all the way to a 70-year-old man do it. As long as you have a good instructor, you can have fun almost immediately."
What's better than running down a hill? Hurling your friend down a hill inside a big plastic ball! It's call Zorbing and it was developed in New Zealand in the 90s, when an adventurous group of Kiwis didn't think it was enough to go outside for a run, and chose to kick boredom's flabby ass, by stuffing themselves in a clear plastic sphere and tumbling downhill. Zorbing is a fun and insane group activity where the whole lot of you can cram inside the air-cushioned ball and go spinning down a slope at about 50 miles per hour. It may make you feel like a gerbil in a wheel, but when was the last time you saw a tubby gerbil?