10 Ways to Stay Active While on the Total Body Diet

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

An active lifestyle is good for your total body wellness and fosters a mind–body connection. Here are ten fun ways to get moving. From hitting the pavement to the water to the ice rink to the mat, in any season, weather, or mood, there’s an activity for you.

Running

With a good pair of running shoes, you can hit the ground running anytime, anywhere. That’s the best part about this activity — it requires very minimal gear. Whether you’re running on a treadmill, track, or paved road, you’re getting a cardiovascular workout.

Running shoes can make or break your fitness routine. Get a pair that fits your feet well and supports your running style. Your shoes should fit snug, but not be too tight. It’s a good idea to have your gait looked at while trying on shoes to determine which shoes will be the best for you.

Walking

Like running, walking requires very little gear — just a good pair of shoes and proper attire for an outdoor excursion. Whether you’re walking on a treadmill, outside, or even at the mall, to get the full benefits of walking, make sure you’re walking with purpose.

Different from a slow, Sunday stroll, walking for a cardiovascular benefit and to shed some pounds requires a bit of speed and putting your whole body into it. Think about walking home from a job interview that you just aced. You’ve got your head held high, shoulders back, and legs moving at a good, speedy pace. You’re walking on sunshine, with attitude and confidence. That’s walking the total body walk!

Wear a pedometer to track your steps. Strive for 10,000 steps a day — from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep at night. Add a bit of core strength to your walks by intentionally tightening your abdominal muscles with every step. This strategy can prevent injuries, too.

Swimming

There’s something magical about immersing your body in water. Your body feels light as it becomes buoyant. Swimming offers the best of both worlds: You can get a good workout for your heart and major muscle groups, and take it easy on your joints at the same time. Whatever stroke you prefer — freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, breast stroke — you’ll get a great workout!

Here’s why swimming is great for your total body:

  • It allows you to control and focus on breathing for relaxation.

  • It builds endurance and stamina.

  • It develops your major muscle groups (which is great for burning calories once out of the water!).

  • It’s low impact (which means it’s easy on your joints).

  • The water is soothing and meditative, making for a great escape from stress.

Bike riding

Cycling is a great form of exercise and has become a competitive sport around the globe.

Even if you learned to ride a bike when you were a kid, before you hop on a bike for exercise, keep in mind a few important points:

  • Always wear a properly fitting helmet when biking to ensure safety.

  • Sit up as straight as you can when cycling.

  • If there’s a designated bike lane or path, use it.

  • Keep a safe distance between you and other bikers.

  • Make sure your bike fits your body.

  • Bring a water bottle and a healthy snack to fuel your body well, especially if you’re cycling longer than an hour.

Yoga

Dating back thousands of years, yoga is spiritual discipline that teaches meditation, postures, and breathing techniques. It has been shown to decrease stress and depression, help minimize pain from diseases like cancer, and create positive behavior change. The premise of yoga is to create an inner awareness through self-observation without judgment. Through the premise of compassionately accepting yourself, yoga allows change to happen in your life by tapping into your inner wisdom or voice.

You don’t have to be an experienced yogi to enjoy the practice of yoga. All different ages, fitness levels, and personality types do yoga. When choosing a type of yoga that’s right for you, think about your fitness level, what you want out of it (for example, to build strength and muscle tone or to explore the mind-body connection), and your overall health (do you have any injuries or physical limitations?). The best bet is to start with a gentle type and progress to harder or more challenging types of yoga.

Pilates

Created by Joseph Pilates (puh-lah-teez) in the early 1900s, this method of exercise is a series of mat-work moves typically done kneeling, lying, or sitting to put less strain on the heart and lungs. Pilates offers strength-training, flexibility, and core work through balance and control of the body, which transcends the mat into other areas of your life.

Every age group can participate in Pilates. Know your own fitness level and what you want to gain from it. Pilates emphasizes correct form as opposed to going for the muscle burn. It’s about engaging your whole body and concentrating on individual moves physically and mentally. There are different variations of every movement that challenge you to master one and then move to a more difficult one. Pilates focuses on toning muscles with bands, springs, and even better, your own body weight.

To get the most out of your time on the mat, look for a good Pilates teacher who is well trained and has received certification through a reputable organization like the Pilates Method Alliance.

Cross-training

Working different muscle groups with cross-training is ideal. Cross-training facilities are springing up all over the country, helping people to increase their capability and capacity over a broader range of movements and activities. Whether you’re an avid cyclist crossing over into running or a runner crossing into swimming, cross-training inherently allows you to train different body parts and build endurance at any fitness level.

The key to good cross-training is to focus on activities that use different body parts and rotate these activities throughout the week or month. To reduce injury, doing this type of activity will help foster strength, flexibility, and endurance in your total body, maximizing athletic performance, cardiovascular health, and weight management over the long term. If you’re interested in finding a cross-training program near you, try CrossFit.

Skating

Whether on ice, pavement, or in a roller rink, skating is a great activity for cardiovascular health and to build up your large leg muscles. Skating burns a lot of calories — which makes it a great weight loss and maintenance activity. All types of skating are low-impact, which means it’s a joint-friendly workout.

There are risk associated with all types of skating. Learning how to fall is key, especially in ice skating, where you probably aren’t wearing a helmet. People who inline skate typically wear plenty of safety gear, like knee pads, elbow pads, wrist pads, and helmets.

All types of skating offer a total body workout because they combine fun and fitness.

Climbing

In recent years, climbing has become very popular. Whether you climb rocks outdoors, or go to an indoor climbing gym and climb on walls, this activity is great for the arms and legs. Climbing is a great way to condition your abdominal, arm, and leg muscles. It’s also great for fostering a mind–body connection because it requires a solo force of will to catapult your body up a steep rock, mountain, or manmade edifice.

Some climbing feats are thousands of feet up, making them not only challenging, but death defying. But you don’t have to be a daredevil to climb — you can easily recreationally climb at your local climbing wall.

Stretching

One of the most important exercises you can do is stretching — it goes hand in hand with any activity. After you’ve warmed up your muscles with running, biking, skating, yoga, Pilates, or rock climbing, stretching comes into play. It soothes, conditions, and strengthens muscle fibers to gear them up for rest, growth, and development.

The primary thing that stretching does is improves flexibility. Why is flexibility so important? Because it does the following:

  • Allows you to do everyday tasks like tying your shoes, putting clothes high up in your closet, and putting away groceries.

  • Minimizes injury as muscles and joints are better conditioned and have moved through a full range of motion, putting less strain on them.

  • Enables good circulation, which allows working muscles to get nutrients and recover more quickly.

  • Gives you good posture.