Exercise? Just pretend you’re having fun 

The sun’s sparkling on the cool, blue water of your local pool. Your email’s full of invitations to picnics, parties and concerts under the stars. Suddenly, the Great Outdoors (beach! mountains! parks! even backyards!) is looking way better than that basement treadmill or the stinky weight room at the gym.

Our advice? Ditch the same-old same-old. Obey your instincts and head outside for some fun physical stuff that doesn’t remotely feel like exercise but has the same benefits.

Giving in to summer fun could keep you motivated and on track with exercise — key for blasting extra pounds, bashing heart disease and diabetes risks and keeping your brain, skin and love life young. Even better: Fun stuff that makes you go “woohoo!” can boost fitness and burn as many as or even more calories than your usual routine. Try these:

Hula hoop. Rockin’ a hoop around your middle’s great fun and great exercise. People who measure these things (bless ’em) say that women who hula-hoop burn 210 calories in 30 minutes and boost their heart rates as much as they would on a brisk walk. In other words, hooping is great for building cardio fitness, taming blood sugar and rebalancing your cholesterol.

Hooping is also hot-hot-hot among trendy 20-somethings, but don’t let them have all the fun. You easily can find everything you need online: hoops, hooping workout videos and even some crazy hooping outfits. Get a hoop for yourself, and one each for the kids and grandkids, and hoop it up together! You’ll earn “coolest adult on the block” cred — fast.

Toss a Frisbee. Whether you’re up for a fast game of Ultimate Frisbee, or a round of disc golf or just tossing a Frisbee with a pal (human or canine), this classic summer toy could help you burn 109 to 252 calories in a half-hour.

Dance the summer away. The kids are playing Dance Dance Revolution? Join ’em. There’s a great DJ at your niece’s wedding? Hit the dance floor. Your neighbor invites you to a Zumba or Jazzercise class? Say yes! Dancing regularly torches calories (shakin’ a sexy samba burns 10 per minute) while it boosts fitness and even slashes your risk for dementia by an amazing 76 percent. It’s a workout that doesn’t feel like work.

If your own mom is looking for something fun to do besides walking, tell her about Dancetown, a PC-powered “exer-game” that uses up 136 calories in a half-hour and gets heart rates as high as a brisk walk does.

Walk on water. Love to hang out at the pool but hate getting your hair wet? Skip the laps and get in some water walking. Water supports your weight yet puts up 12 times more resistance than air, so you’ll get a great workout, no bathing cap necessary. Try it, too, if you’ve got achy joints and the water’s beyond balmy. A little warm-water exercise can cut joint pain from arthritis and fibromyalgia by as much as a third.

Hit the beach. Dial up your favorite Beach Boys classics on your iPhone, slap on plenty of sunscreen and go coastal. Walking on soft sand can burn 20 percent to 50 percent more calories than walking on a hard surface, thanks to the extra effort it takes (the softer the sand, the harder you’ll work). Ready for more fun? Look for a beach volleyball game. Despite what you see on TV, you don’t need a bikini; shorts and a T-shirt are fine. And if you get hooked and play regularly, you might be bikini-ready soon — a half-hour game burns up to 355 calories.

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.

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