This is a guest post from Tara Spencer at Working Capital.
Most people begin working out as a way to lose weight or to work on a specific health goal, like lowering blood pressure or cholesterol. They tell themselves that they “have to” work out, and they force themselves to go to the gym each day. Exercise becomes a chore, not something to be enjoyed.
When exercise is a chore, it’s not likely something that will become a lasting part of your life. Rather, it will become something to dread and try to avoid.
Finding ways to make exercise fun is key to making it a lifelong habit for real healthy change. The key is to find something you enjoy doing in the moment, so you can focus on the pleasure that exercise brings you rather than trying to “be all you can be” or to push yourself to extremes.
If you find that your relationship with exercise is more hate than love, here are a few ways you can make exercise fun again so that you can make it a lifelong habit:
Do Things You Already Enjoy Doing
There are plenty of ways to be active that don’t involve running on a treadmill or lifting dumbbells in an impersonal gym. What do you enjoy doing that gets you active? Maybe you like working in your garden. Or perhaps you’re a handyman who likes building in the workshop. Or maybe you like taking strolls around the lake where you can feed the ducks.
Whatever you enjoy doing that gets you active is exercise. This can include hiking, bike rides through your neighborhood, dancing, competitive sparring, swimming at the lake, and so on. When you add more of these activities into your day, you’ll be more active but it won’t seem like work since you’ll be doing something you already enjoy doing.
Combine It with Other Fun Activities
A little music can really energize your workout and make it seem much more fun. Create fun playlists of music you love to enjoy while you work out, either on your iPod or on a sound system in your home. You could also put on a fun television show in the background, or even read a magazine you enjoy while you’re on the treadmill.
Exercise with Friends
Working out with friends is a great way to exercise and have fun at the same time. When you are with friends, you can talk and enjoy one another, making the time pass more quickly. Friends can also support you in your fitness goals, making it easier for you to see them through.
When you meet up with friends for a workout, focus on having fun! Do something you enjoy doing together that will also let you socialize while you work out. Try rock climbing, horseback riding, or parasailing. Take a yoga class together, try martial arts together, or take a dance lesson together. The more fun you are having together, the more likely you will be to work out together again.
Make It a Family Event
Your family is another great resource to help you reach your fitness goals and to have more fun while doing it. Not only can you exercise together, but you can spend quality time together, catching up on your day and learning more about one another. If you have children, exercising with them can provide a healthy model.
Again, focus on activities that are fun for the whole family. This can include boating, swimming, roller skating, fishing, and more. Choose activities that allow you to connect, have fun, and be active.
Travel to New Places
Routine can make even the most fun activities seem stale and boring. Get out of the house — and out of the gym — and take your workout to new places. Explore new trails in your community. Go to new parks. Travel to nearby towns to check out new places to hike or run.
If you’re really adventurous, you can take your whole workout on the road. Seek out destinations that offer opportunities for fitness buffs. Explore beautiful mountains, hiking trails, and scenic bike routes in other states or even other countries. Enjoy a fitness retreat in an exotic land. You’ll get lots of exercise in, and you’ll enjoy learning about a new place.
Finding ways to make exercise fun is key to building a lifelong fitness habit. You will enjoy what you are doing more and not see it as a chore — as something you have to do. Instead you will see it as something you want to do, and that will keep you going for years!
What other strategies have you used to make exercise more fun? Share your ideas in the comments!
Tara Spenser is currently the resident writer for WorkingCapital.org, where she researches the most affordable small business working capital available. In her spare time, she enjoys blogging, swimming and being a mom.