11 things to try if you want to get moving but hate the gym

If you’re stuck in a rut and need a break from routine, it’s time to expand your horizons with some new activities.

By Monique McKenzie
Getting outside throughout the year can help to keep us healthy, happy and motivated.
The outdoors offers everything from a mindful pursuit to a core workout, and it's the perfect option if you're not a fan of being stuck inside at the gym.
Studies from Austria's University of Innsbruck have also shown that the same activity can feel easier outside than in.
From joining a hiking group to rock climbing or kayaking, learning new outdoor skills is a great way to build confidence, not to mention have fun.
It's great for us to try new things at any stage in life – perhaps once the kids have left the nest and you have more time to yourself – and you can discover new skills, meet people, and test yourself physically and mentally.
You'll be making memories while producing plenty of feel-good endorphins, and it's also a chance to expand your mind.
As adults, a lot of our days are the same and we can get stuck in the same old routine. Many of us get so busy with our jobs and families that hobbies simply fall by the wayside, but there's no better time than now to try something new.
Plus, trying new things is an excellent way to exercise the brain as doing something different means we're learning new ideas, concepts and skills.
Brain exercise is important as we get older because the brain is like a muscle and if it isn't used, it gets weak.
Whether it's a new sport or hobby, the act of making a change keeps us involved in the here and now.
New situations keep us engaged, and give us opportunities to interact with different people. They also make our lives more interesting and create feelings of satisfaction and excitement, giving us something positive to look forward to on a regular basis.
We've rounded up the best outdoor activities out there – so if you don't enjoy the first one you try, you can always give another one a go until you find one that floats your boat.


Kayaking is an exhilarating and adventurous way to connect with the outdoors.
Not to be confused with canoeing (which uses a paddle with a blade at one end, while kayaking paddles are double-bladed), there's something for everyone, however hard or gently you choose to exercise.
A session of kayaking will help burn fat, with even a gentle paddle burning up to 140 calories an hour. It also builds strength in the legs, back, shoulders and the muscles that rotate the torso.
There's a common misconception that it's going to be an upper body workout, but with good technique you'll engage your core, which lets you use your back muscles and abs, improving balance too.
Kayaking is a low-impact sport, so it's kind on joints and great for bone health. Kayaking is also fantastic for mental wellbeing and confidence – according to research published in the Journal of Leisurability, it can lead to increased social skills and an overall boost in self-satisfaction.
If you're sea kayaking, look out for dolphins as you paddle!

Rock Climbing

If you like workouts mixed with adventure and adrenaline, rock climbing may be the exercise for you.
With the ability to push your heart rate to between 120 and 180 beats per minute, you'll be surprised how fast you break a sweat, even when moving slowly. And you'll work muscles you never knew you had.
Rock climbing is a full-body workout, targeting your core, arms, legs, glutes and back – not to mention your forearms. You'll do a lot of reaching and stretching from one hold to the next, so it also helps to improve flexibility.
Competitive climbing in teams is growing in popularity, or you can simply climb solo. You can also do it in all weather, moving to an inside climbing wall if you have to.

Glacier Hiking

If you enjoy hiking, explore the icy trails of the glaciers and witness nature at its finest.
You'll be guaranteed plenty of Insta-worthy photo opportunities, too.


Take a leaf out of Robin Hood's book and opt for some archery.
Just one session will help to strengthen your arm, back and shoulder muscles, as you repeatedly lift the bow and draw the string.
If you're feeling stressed, trying to increase your concentration and stamina at work, or simply looking to find an alternative form of meditation, a spot of target practice might be exactly what you need.
Archery is about focus and attention and is a brain-training exercise. You have to get into that rhythm and flow, and not let anything distract you, and because you're ignoring everything around you, it forces you to slow down and focus on one goal.


If you want to experience the rush of racing downhill, skiing is an ideal extreme outdoor activity – or opt for snowboarding instead.

Ropes courses

If you like the idea of walking among the trees, you'll like the sound of this.
There are many places where adults can try ropes courses, and much like obstacle courses, they make for the perfect group activity.
A session on a ropes course is likely to leave you a little out of breath, and it's also a great way to build self-esteem, improve balance and develop cognitive agility.
There's a physical element to it, but it's more about getting out of your comfort zone – without hitting panic mode.
Ropes courses are a great all-round introduction to adventure fitness and a good place to work on your balance, strength and focus.
They're aimed at groups who want to bond and do something adventurous together, so consider it an inventive adventure date or a fun out-of-the-box weekend activity to enjoy with friends.

Mountain Biking

It isn't for the faint-hearted, but it's definitely one of the most accessible extreme activities out there. Plus, it's a fun activity to do with others.


Ride the waves while soaking up the salty air of the ocean.
Did you know that surfing is among the oldest sports ever? While its precise origin is uncertain, prehistoric stone carvings in Peru, which date back 5000 years, show people surfing.

Water Skiing

If you're not a fan of the cold, take your skiing from the mountains to the waves.

Scuba Diving

Always dreamed of learning how to dive? Not only does it provide interaction with marine life, but scuba diving can also lower blood pressure and help you gain strength and flexibility as well.


You might not have heard of this exhilarating sport, but it involves hiking, swimming and diving.

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