3 Offbeat Workouts That Offer Unexpected Benefits

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Most people who work out do so with specific reasons or goals in mind: to lose weight, to build muscle, to improve endurance, or to learn a new skill, for example. Many people stick to the tried-and-true workouts because the benefits are known or they are familiar with the particular sport or exercise. (Running is good for cardiovascular health, lifting weights improves muscle mass, swimming is a good choice when you’re dealing with an injury.) However, if you’re in the market for something different, or if you’re not a fan of most traditional forms of exercise, there’s still plenty of interesting activities available to you that are effective and provide you with some important health benefits.

1. Ballroom Dancing: Perhaps you’ve seen signs advertising a ballroom dancing class and were intrigued, or maybe you’re a big fan of Dancing With the Stars but wonder if you’re really capable of learning to ballroom dance. If you’re interested in this form of exercise, your best bet would be to check out a local ballroom dancing class. Chances are, this fun workout will surprise you for how mentally challenging it is and because it offers several important health benefits. Ballroom dancers rely on a very good posture in order to correctly execute turns and dance steps. Paying close attention to this can help you greatly improve your balance, especially as you age and falling becomes more of a health risk. Better balance means less risk of falls and the resulting health problems that come with them!

2. Facial yoga: We all know what yoga is and that the many health benefits, from stress reduction to becoming more limber, are a great reason to include yoga in your workout routine. However, facial yoga is a lesser known practice that can do wonders for you if you’re suddenly seeing fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin looking back at you when you look in the mirror. Using a combination of specific exercises, relaxation, acupressure and massage, this practice works the 57 different muscles in your face and neck to improve the strength and firmness of your skin. It can also help reduce bags and dark skin under the eyes and improve circulation. If you don’t live in an area that offers facial yoga, there are classes held on Skype and a DVD you can do at home.

3. Tai Chi: When you think of martial arts, you may think you have to become a street fighter or Jet Li, but Tai Chi is a kinder, gentler form of martial arts that offers a whole host of benefits, especially for the older athlete. In addition to learning and mastering poses and moves that increase coordination and balance and improve muscle strength, especially in the legs, Tai Chi also helps improve your brain! The practice requires great focus, which can help give your mind as good a workout as your body, plus it can be very meditative, which is good for your energy and spiritual well-being. People who are experiencing problems with osteoarthritis may find Tai Chi to be beneficial in dealing with symptoms, while people dealing with heart problems may notice the calming nature of Tai Chi improves their heart health.

It doesn’t matter what age or what state of health you’re in, there’s always an exercise or activity that can improve your health and help you look, feel, and act younger and fitter. Don’t be afraid to try new routines and new activities, because often these can be your best bet for a younger mind, body and spirit!

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