Exercise - physical activity - is important for our physical and mental health. It can help us lose weight, build muscle, reduce our risk of chronic diseases and improve our mood. However, for many people, exercise can be a chore - boring, repetitive and difficult to stick with. But it doesn't have to be this way. Exercise should be fun, even if it is hard work, and there are many ways to make exercise more enjoyable.
Firstly, find an activity that you enjoy. There are many different types of exercise, so it's important to find one that you enjoy. If you don't like running, don't force yourself to run. There are plenty of other options, such as: walking, swimming, cycling or dancing. If you don’t like using weights or the gym environment, experiment with bodyweight exercises, yoga, pilates.
Make it social. Physical activity with friends or family can make exercise more fun and motivating. You can also join a fitness class or club. Or…
Make it solo. Working out by oneself can provide a valuable escape and quality alone time.
Set realistic goals. Don't try to do too much too soon, start with small achievable goals. Once you've reached your initial goals, you can gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
Vary your routine. If you do the same workout every day, you are likely to get bored. Try mixing things up by changing the intensity, duration, or type of exercise you do. You can also try new activities, such as taking a dance class or joining a hiking or rucking group.
Reward yourself. When you reach a goal, reward yourself with something you enjoy. This will help you stay motivated and on track.
Making exercise fun is essential for long-term adherence. If you find an activity you enjoy and make it a part of your lifestyle, you'll be more likely to stick with it. And the more you exercise, the better you'll feel.
If you are new to exercise (or getting tired of your existing routine) it can sometimes be worthwhile to practise, experiment and explore different activities rather than committing to a training programme or regimen.
If you're looking for ways to make exercise more fun, here are a few ideas:
Listen to music. Listening to your favourite music can help you get motivated and make your workout more enjoyable. Just be sure to maintain awareness of your surroundings and other people.
Take a class. Taking a fitness class is a great way to meet new people and learn new exercises. Often clubs or activity providers allow for a free trial class.
Play a sport. Playing a sport is a fun way to get exercise and socialise at the same time.
Go for a walk in nature. If you are fit or not, walking in nature is a great way to clear your head and enjoy the outdoors.
Track your exercise. There is joy to be had in tracking and seeing your progress. Even if things don’t always go right, the process of journaling can support your journey to health.
Try something new. There are endless possibilities when it comes to exercise. Try something new every once in a while to keep things interesting.
Don't get stuck in a rut. If you find an exercise that you enjoy, be sure to take a regular ‘down’ or ‘low volume’ week to allow the body (and mind) to recover and refresh from the routine.
The most important thing is to find an activity that you enjoy, one that fits into your lifestyle. Once you find something that you love, you'll be more likely to stick with it for the long term.
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Lakicevic N, Gentile A, Mehrabi S, Cassar S, Parker K, Roklicer R, Bianco A, Drid P. Make Fitness Fun: Could Novelty Be the Key Determinant for Physical Activity Adherence? Front Psychol. 2020 Oct 15;11:577522. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.577522. PMID: 33178079; PMCID: PMC7593334.