3 Fun Workout Games, 1 Tasty Reward
Exercising is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The physical activity guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends that adults should do at least 2 ½ to 5 hours a week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 1 to 2 ½ hours a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. In addition, including muscle-strengthening activities 2 or more days a week is also strongly recommended in order to achieve maximum health benefits.
The American Heart Association agrees. On its website, it states that being more active in your day-to-day routine can improve how you think, feel, and sleep, and also perform better in your daily tasks at work and with family and friends. In fact, certain environmental toxins that we are all exposed to in our everyday lives are most efficiently eliminated from the body through sweating, which means that the more often you can find time to push your endurance, challenge yourself, and break a solid sweat, the better your heart--and overall--health will become!
But let's face it, not all of us love hitting the gym. The treadmill can get boring. The elliptical machines can quickly become monotonous. And if you have a busy schedule, it might be tricky if not impossible to motivate yourself to meet these exercise recommendations when the actual fitness activities you've tried in the past don't hold your long-term interest.
Gamifying your exercise efforts could be the answer. Gamifying? Yes. Turning exercise into a game can make fitness a lot more fun, and therefore a lot more sustainable, in the long run.
To get you inspired, we've pulled together our 3 favorite heart-pounding games that are sure to get you moving, sweating, and gaming in ways that are so fun, you won't even realize you're exercising! And since nothing beats that oh-so-deserved post-workout treat, we've even included a sweet treat reward idea, but you'll have to read through to the end of this article if you want the delicious recipe.
ROLL THE DICE WITH CARDIO
For gamifying a healthy mix of cardio, HIIT, and strength training that's sure to elevate your heart rate and get your blood pumping and body sweating, all you'll need is a pair of dice and a bit of wide open space. You can play this workout game in your backyard or at a nearby park, but you'll definitely want to be outside. You can play with a friend, group of friends, the whole family, or entirely solo. Either way, it'll be one heck of a workout!
In addition to a pair of dice, you'll need a stopwatch and a pen & notepad. The idea is to create an exercise circuit and either beat your personal time with each attempt or beat your playing mates in a healthy competition.
First, decide exactly what exercises you will be doing. Be sure that your circuit will include a cardio exercise, HIIT exercise, and strength training exercise. For example, if you're at the local high school track, the cardio can be 1 lap, the HIIT--that stands for High Intensity Interval Training--can be burpees, and the strength training can be sit-ups.
Now, the first die will represent the exercise and the second die will represent the reps, so assign the exercise to the dice numbers--1 is cardio, 2 is HIIT, 3 is strength-training, 4 is cardio, 5 is HIIT, 6 is strength training. Get it?
Roll the first die then roll the second. If you got a 2 then a 6, that means you'll do your HIIT exercise for 6 repetitions, i.e. 6 burpees. Make note of this, because you're going to keep rolling 3 times so that your circuit includes 3 exercises.
Once you have your 3 exercises, such as 6 burpees, 2 laps, and 4 sit-ups, you're ready to go. If you're playing with friends, then it's a race. Whoever finishes first gets 5 points, and you can play to 25 points, before you start a new game with more rolling of the dice. If you're playing alone, then use your stopwatch and challenge yourself to improve your times. How many times will you do the circuits? You'll have to roll the dice! Yes, both of them, which means there's a chance you won't get to catch your breath until you've completed 12 repetitions of your circuit!
GET PLAYFUL WITH PARKOUR
Who didn't love The Office? When Michael Scott, Andy Bernard, and Dwight Schrute challenged themselves to a vigorous game of parkour, they were doing more than making all of America laugh out loud. They were also getting their heart rates up and sweating like nobody's business! Seriously… the pit-stains on Steve Carell? You can bet the wardrobe department had to burn his buttondown after the director called "cut"!
If you watched that clip from The Office, then you have a basic sense of how to play parkour. The rules of the game are simple: try to get from Point A to Point B as creatively--and quickly--as possible. You'll probably want to go outside to play this game, but if there's nothing terribly breakable in your living room, then we won't stop you from attempting to parkour yourself from the couch to the bathroom.
Truly gamifying the competitive aspect of this fun game will be different if you're working out by yourself or with friends. If you're getting your sweat on solo, then you'll need a countdown clock. Set it to 3 minutes. Trust us, when it comes to parkour, that's a long time. Then, depending on where you are--at the local park or your own backyard--take a moment to study your surroundings and form a mental plan of what you can creatively do to get from one point to the next.
Set your countdown clock, hit Start, and then get going! Challenge yourself to add cartwheels, leaps, somersaults, backwards running, and whatever else you can think of! When the clock stops, breathe, recover, sip water, and get ready for Round Two. If Round One was 3 minutes, then Round Two can be 5. Keep lengthening your parkour circuits until your legs are wobbly and your arms feel like jelly!
If you're playing with friends, the objective is different. Think of it as a race. You have your starting line and your finish location. Whoever gets there first will get 5 points. Play until someone has 25 points!
POKER FACE CHALLENGE WITH A DECK OF CARDS
Gamify your workout with a deck of cards. You can either do this fun workout solo, with one friend, with the whole family, or however many people you like! And it isn't necessary to be at a gym to play, either. You can do this gamified workout at a local park or even in your living room!
First, establish the rules of the game by assigning cardio-blasts and strength training circuits for each suit--hearts, clubs, diamonds, and spades. For example, heart cards can represent push ups, clubs can represent burpees, diamonds can represent squats, and spades can represent high-knee sprinting in place.
Next, let the forces that be determine your exercise circuit by shuffling the deck of cards. Be merciful, oh ye gods of fitness! Draw four cards and lay them face up. Note the numbers, that's how many push ups, squats, or burpees you'll do, or minutes of high-knee sprinting in place. If you pulled a Jack, King, Queen, or Ace, those are 10, 20, 30, and 40--yes, you will do 40 burpees if you drew the Ace of clubs!
Your fitness circuit, for example, could be: 4 of diamond, 8 of clubs, 3 of heart, and Queen of hearts, i.e. 4 squats, 8 burpees, 3 push ups, 30 push ups.
Lastly, draw one final card. This will represent the number of circuits you do before you walk it off. If you draw a 7 of diamonds, then you'll do the circuit 7 times! But in this instance, drawing a Jack, King, Queen, or Ace will actually be in your favor, because those represent 1, 2, 3 or 4. Meaning, that if you draw the Jack of clubs, you will do your circuit only once.
Now, the games begin. If you're playing with many people, you'll each do the same circuit because you'll want to stay in timed competition with one another. If you're working out alone, then you will be your own competition. In this case, use a stopwatch and time yourself. With each circuit, try to get a faster time than the last!
SWEET TREAT REWARD FROM SWEETLY STEVIA
Congratulations! You just gamified your workout, engaged in heart-healthy exercise, and are well-deserving of a sweet treat to reward yourself! But if you thought we were going to let you reach for the sugar, then you don't know us very well!
You don't want to undo all of your hard work by wolfing down more calories than you burned! But you can satisfy your sweet tooth with a treat that uses an all-natural, calorie-free sweetener… namely ours…
SWEETLY STEVIA'S "NO BAKE ENERGY BALLS"
You huffed, puffed, and got all sweaty. We hoped you showered, but even if you didn't, we don't want you going anywhere near an oven.
Meet our Energy Balls! This no-bake energy snack is made with stevia instead of sugar! And because this sweet treat only requires all-natural ingredients, it is naturally gluten free, vegan, dairy free, low carb, and free from added sugar! Each energy ball is just 87 calories and has 9 grams of carbs and 3 grams of protein!
- 7 pitted Dates
- 1/4 cup Dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup Unsalted roasted almonds
- 1 teaspoon Sweetly Stevia, or to taste
- 1/2 cup Unsalted almond butter
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt (optional)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Use a food processor and add the dates and almond butter, blend until the mixture is cohesive, sticky, and pulls away from the sides of the processor, or for about 3-5 minutes. If you don't have a food processor, finely chop the dates, melt the almond butter, and mix by hand until you have a sticky paste.
- Chop the almonds into crumbles and add into the paste mixture, then add in your Sweetly Stevia and salt. Blend until the mixture becomes soft and crumbly. You'll know you're done mixing when you can roll a chunk in your palm and it will stay cohesive if you toss it into the air.
- Using a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop, or a simple table spoon utensil, scoop out the mixture one tablespoon at a time, roll it into a ball, and set it on the baking sheet.
You can eat the energy balls right off the baking sheet. No cooking or refrigeration is required! However, when it's time to store them, you'll want an airtight container. These will keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 month if they're in an airtight container.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to keep up with our health, fitness & nutrition blog posts--and all the delicious recipes we've invented that use Sweetly Stevia instead of sugar--then click the Sweetly Stevia subscribe button at the bottom of this page and be the first to know!