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10 Ways to Sneak in Workouts When Out with Friends

Instead of giving up your favorite activities to slave away at a gym, try these ways to mix real fun with real fitness.


Gameshow with a twist

The only thing more fun that watching Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune, and owning your friends with your impressive knowledge of trivia and statistics is making your friends do funny things when they lose. Next time you’re playing along at home, work out with your friends by making a fitness “bet” on the game. Whoever get the right answer first gets to challenge the rest of the group to a round of push-ups, sit-ups, or a dash around the house. (Need more ideas? Try these 60-second workout ideas.) And make no mistake, those few minutes can add up to a good workout. Several bursts of high-intensity exercise lasting as little as two minutes can give you an all-day metabolic boost, according to a study done by the American Physiological Society.


Brunch al fresco

A decadent brunch is a weekend staple, but all those omelettes and mimosas can add up. (Make sure you’re skipping these 10 unhealthy brunch items!) Help your waistline and keep the conversation going by packing some of your favorite dishes (or getting them to go) and walking to a local park for a picnic. In addition to the extra calories you’ll burn getting there, simply being outside in nature has a host of health benefits. Just five minutes of walking outdoors can boost your mood, raise your immune system, and give you an overall sense of well-being, according to a study published in Environmental Science & Technology.


Bar crawl with a ball

Take your typical weekend bar meet-up to the next level by moving it to the bar…at the local bowling alley. The combination of beers, bowling balls, and bumpers (they’re totally allowed!) will keep you moving and laughing, not to mention supplying you with hilarious stories for future get-togethers. Plus bowling burns 150 to 250 calories for every 30 minutes of play. Want to make it even healthier? Try these easy substitutions to reduce calories and increase nutrition in your favorite drinks.


Progressive dinner

Have you ever gone to a restaurant that has the most amazing appetizers but their dessert selection is lacking? Or the wine menu is stellar but you don’t love the entree choices? Solve your palette problems and sneak in a little exercise by turning your date-night dinner into a progressive dinner. Start with happy hour appetizers at your favorite taphouse, walk to a nearby restaurant for tapas, stop by a bakery or ice creamery for a sweet treat, and end with a stroll in the evening air for a night cap. Bonus: Walking on cobblestone, brick, or other uneven surfaces not only gives you a cardiovascular workout but also improves your balance and coordination in ways walking on a treadmill or track can’t, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Need more inspiration to take a walk? Here are 15 great reasons to take a 15-minute walk.


Board games, not bored games

Game night is a classic cold-weather activity. Keep yours interesting and healthy by mixing in some physical games along with the table games. Play a round of cards and then take a break for Just Dance, Twister, or combine both wits and fitness with a game of truth or dare with the “dares” being physical. (For a more entertaining twist, try these hilarious party games.) Not convinced? Active video games can be just as beneficial as more conventional types of moderate intensity exercise, like walking, according to a study done by the University of Oklahoma Health Services Center.


See the show, be the show

Nothing will heighten your appreciation for the skill it takes to put on a live show like trying it yourself. Watch a Cirque du Soleil performance and then try out a circus class with your friends. Or for a less acrobatic option, take an improv class (you’d be amazed at how many calories you can burn laughing!) before watching an improv comedy show. Psst… Here are 9 more weird facts about laughter.


Club on wheels

Dancing in the club can be fantastic exercise—as long as you’re actually dancing and not propping up the wall. But if clubs or public dancing make you nervous, consider hitting up disco night at the local skating rink. It’s a much more casual atmosphere and many roller skating rinks now offer adults-only nights with themes, food, and music. You’ll put the roll into rock-n-roll! Want to be more social but not sure how? Try these 11 tips to nix social anxiety.


A concert with a kick

Amp up your concert-going experience by checking out an outdoor musical festival. You’ll get to appreciate a variety of great music while upping your daily step count walking around the venue. (Find out what your favorite music says about you!) And the stroll may even help you appreciate the music even more. In a study from Ohio State University, adding physical activity to the listening experience gave participants a cognitive brain and mood boost.


Movie night madness

At your next at-home movie night, swap out the drinking game for a friendly fitness challenge. Just like you would for a traditional drinking game, make a bingo card with the words, phrases, scenes, or actors to look for. Then, every time one of them happens, instead of doing a shot, do a burpee (or sub in any of these simple body weight exercises). You’ll still get to get your Netflix on and have fun with friends while sneaking in some moves.


Barbecue with a side of lawn games

Nothing goes better together than grills and grass, so make your next backyard barbecue even better with lawn games. You can stick with your childhood favorites like cornhole, ladderball, or lawn darts. Pick teams and play a round or two of volleyball or badminton. Or go big with giant lawn games like life-sized Jenga, chess, or tic-tac-toe. Kids and grown-ups alike will love playing so much they won’t even notice the calories they’re burning. For more lawn game ideas, check out these 20 fun outdoor party games.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen has been covering health and fitness for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 13 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She teaches fitness classes in her spare time. She lives in Denver with her husband, four children, and three pets.

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