Phys Ed Follies: 9 Fitness Activities That Feel More Like PlayBy Tom Anderson
Autumn's chill has chased you from the pool, the days are getting shorter, and Target's shelves are overflowing with everything from crayons to book bags. It's back to school time and the fun's over—for your kids, at least. But you can take a page from their textbook and go back to school yourself—without that pesky "school" part. Capture that feeling of being a kid again with these 9 Phys Ed class favorites that feel more like play than exercise.
- Dodgeball. Dodgeball has changed a bit since those days when you were picked last and terrorized by Ben Stiller types. Even if the balls still sting, themed costumes, coed teams, and playing for local (and national) glory will banish any residual nightmares you have from gym class. Let the smacking begin.
Get Started: Find a team at the National Amateur Dodgeball Association's site.
- Kickball. Like baseball, only with kicking instead of batting, kickball has quickly become a hipster-friendly sport. But you don't need to live in Williamsburg, Silverlake, or Portland to find a team. All you need is a field and a ball. The rules are the same as in baseball, except the base runner is out if smacked by the ball before getting on base.
Get Started: The World Adult Kickball Association sponsors coed leagues across the country, and there's even an annual World Championship held in Vegas for qualifying teams.
- Archery. Why should Hawkeye, Katniss, and the Green Arrow have all the fun? Archery is a fantastic upper-body workout, a good way to make friends with other arrow-slinging types, and once you get the basics, it's a sport that can be done pretty much anywhere. Worried about putting an eye out? According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, only bowling, badminton, and table tennis beat archery for safety.
Get Started: Find your nearby archery center on the Team USA site.
- Trail running. Before winter settles in, take advantage of the cooler weather to run hiking trails near your home or office. Though trail running shoes will provide the most stability on rocky or steep terrain, a good pair of standard running shoes will get you through over most mountains, hills, swamps, and valleys. Not sure your legs are quite ready for trail running? A leisurely hike will help boost your cardio endurance too!
Get Started: The American Trail Running Association keeps a state-by-state listing of trails so you can find one nearby.
- Flag football. If passing, catching, and cabbage patching in the end zone are in your blood, flag football leagues are beckoning all Aaron Rodgers wannabes. In between college football on Saturday and the NFL® on Sunday, schedule a flag football game with your buddies or get on a local team and burn off some of that beer.
Get Started: Grab a ball and a group of friends, or check your local YMCA and Park and Recreation sites. Whether you're looking for a same-sex, coed, or flag football team, you'll find it.
- Bocce ball. If you want a ball sport that's low-impact, try bocce. This Italian import can be played on the lawn, beach, driveway, or just about any other reasonably flat surface. The rules are thus: One player tosses the pallino—a small ball—a short distance, and players on the two teams (up to 4 players can be on each team) toss larger balls toward it. Points are given to the balls closest to the pallino, and the winning team is the first to reach 13. Gloating is encouraged.
Get Started: Pick up a bocce set at almost any sporting goods store, find 1 to 7 other friends who want to play, and get rolling!
- Frisbee® golf. Disc golf—more commonly known as Frisbee golf—is similar to regular golf . . . just without the clubs, the cart, or the silly socks. The courses are laid out the same as in golf, and a basket atop a pole substitutes for the cup. The Professional Disc Golf Association even rates players worldwide, in addition to offering a handicap service. No caddie required.
Get Started: Find a directory of courses on the Professional Disc Golf Association's site.
- INSANITY: THE ASYLUM®. Forget calisthenics. INSANITY's Shaun T has something better. Game Day, the centerpiece workout of this program, is like a spending a day at the park running, swimming, playing basketball, soccer, baseball, kickball, tag, and all those other games you played growing up. No lame gym uniform required.
Get Started: Order INSANITY: THE ASYLUM. Then take your "before" photos and Push Play!
- Raking leaves. This was more of an afterschool activity, but it turns out Mom was doing you a favor when she sent you out to clean up the lawn, since an hour of raking can burn up to 400 calories. Why not see how large an area you can rake in 30 minutes? Or challenge your partner to see who the raking champion of your backyard is. Loser gets stuck making dinner.
Get Started: Get rake and bag. Begin!
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