My son said to me, ” I don’t understand why people don’t exercise when it’s so much fun. Why would you not want to do it?” He has a really good point. Exercise is often seen as boring, a chore, as something you SHOULD do. A bitter pill that has to be swallowed in the quest for good health. If something is fun however, then you go back for more, you make time for it and it enriches your life. The need for constant motivation, inspiration and encouragement diminishes and the whole ‘keeping fit thing’ becomes so much easier. So, how can you make exercise fun?
Here are my top tips for a fun workout:
- Don’t focus on weight loss. If you’re using exercise to help you lose weight then it’s easy to be disappointed because it doesn’t always happen. If the main objective of your workout is purely to burn the maximum number of calories, then you shift your focus towards using exercise as a punishment for what you’ve already eaten or are about to consume. Where’s the fun in that? Exercise should be a reward. Focus instead on how good it makes you feel. Once you’ve got the bug you’ll find that your main motivation for exercise won’t be to control your weight and you’ll see that as more of a bonus side effect
- Make it sociable. When do you have your best laughs? When you’re with friends. Sometimes a bit of solo exercise is what you crave and that can be fun too but there’s nothing quite like a shared work out. Whether it’s parkrun, a family hike or a team sport, exercising with others leads to laughter, a shared satisfaction and a good chat. The time passes miraculously quickly and there’s also the added bonus that plans made with others encourage you to get out the door in the first place
- Travel with it. Same old same old gets boring. There’s a whole world out there full of potential adventures. It might be the other side of the globe or just the next village but using exercise to explore is a great way to make it fun. Geocaching, city walks, new cycle routes and running races. Perhaps a whole fitness holiday; the possibilities are endless. You’ll discover new places, often away from the main routes and with your phone as a camera you can record some memories too.
- Try something new. It’s easy to just stick with what you know but mixing it up makes all the difference. There are so many sport taster sessions you can take advantage of. Try abseiling, trapeze or archery. Don’t think of exercise as purely traditional sports; gardening, dance or just messing about in the playground with your kids all count. It’s fun and empowering to try something new and who knows, you might uncover hidden talents – you don’t know until you try!
- Join a club. This goes along with making exercise sociable but it’s rewarding to ‘belong’ to something. Perhaps it’s a team or a sports club, feeling part of a group with a shared goal feels good. As well as motivation and support there’s the ‘apres-sport’ too! Suddenly Christmas parties and AGMs become a highlight and the exercise itself take a back seat but it’s all part of the fun. You’ll find you improve quickly when you’re part of a club with tips from others, coaching and just the fact that you’re inclined to do it more often. Don’t forget, a club can be a virtual, online one too.
- Turn off the tech. It’s great to record what you do and to get home and compare your own performance with your previous one or that of others, but sometimes you just need to go out without a watch or app. Just enjoy the exercise for what it is and how it makes you feel. Take the pressure off, just be, look about you, absorb it all without worrying that slowing down is going to affect your average pace or lose you a segment!
- Make it crazy. Not for the everyday but crank it up occasionally with something a bit unusual. A colour run where you get covered in paint, a tough mudder, a night hike, a naked cycle, a beer race. Look out for something that genuinely looks like fun to you and just get signed up. You won’t regret it and you’ll be so focused on laughing that you won’t even notice the exercise.
- Challenge yourself. Be bold. Be brave. Set yourself a target. Reward yourself along the way. Measure your stats if you want, if you find it fun, to see how you’re doing but keep your eyes on the goal. Exercise is often a voyage of self discovery and learning new things about yourself is empowering and fun. Plan a big celebration for when you rise to your challenge to include others in that fun too.
Fun is contagious and if we can all share the message that exercise is fun, we’ll be some of the way to solving the problems of inactivity that we have, because as my son says, “Why wouldn’t you want to do it?!”
Photo credits: Featured image; Gratisography. Other; drjulietmcgrattan.com