Exercise should be fun. I’ve always said the best exercise is the one you enjoy doing. If it’s not, how long are you going to last doing it?
Too many people view exercise as something they have to, or must do. They force themselves to toil away in a gym or pound the pavement running even though they don’t like it. It doesn’t take long before they quit.
When we were kids, it wasn’t nearly this complicated. You were probably running, jumping and spinning around, getting your heart rate up and sweating. You were effectively exercising, and it was fun.
I’m a firm believer of making the things we can control fun. There are too many other things in life beyond our control, which are hard to enjoy. Exercise shouldn’t be one of them. You don’t need to force yourself into a gym if you don’t like that. You don’t have to go running if it’s not for you. You even don’t have to buy fancy clothes or equipment.
Exercising for Health is a Good Long-term Goal, But…
Exercise is formally defined as a structured time of physical activity aimed at getting your heart rate up and improving fitness. But there are plenty of ways to accomplish this doing activities you might not think of as exercise. A brisk walk to the store for 20–30 minutes could do this. A game of pick-up pickle ball. A hike with friends.
As a health advocate, I promote and guide people with their exercise programs because it will make them healthy. However, I don’t expect health to be the main reason why people get up in the morning to get out and break a sweat. Health may be the reason why people start exercising, but it’s too abstract to motivate most of us day in and day out. It has to be fun. For me, I like the feel of being fit. My body feels stronger and I have more confidence. I also feel in a better mood after I exercise. But it’s what’s important to you that matters.
Having long-term goals for your exercise can definitely help. It may be to improve your health, run a 10 km faster or even beat your friend in tennis. However, long-term goals aren’t always enough to keep us going. We’re a species of instant gratification and need to enjoy things at the moment, not just how we might feel a few days, weeks or months down the line.
Putting the Fun Into Your Exercise
If you don’t like exercising for the sake of exercising, find other reasons to do it . Put the thought of exercise aside for a moment and think about what you enjoy doing. Are you a social person, or do you prefer alone time? Are you competitive, or easy going? Are you practical and like the idea of doing multiple things at once? Do you like to save money?
Regardless of how you answered those questions, there’s an exercise and path to fitness for you. For example, if you like to be time efficient and save money, active commuting may be for you. In urban centres, riding a bike (and sometimes even walking) can be faster than transit and driving, it will also cost less (no gas or parking costs).
If you’re highly competitive or goal-oriented and like/need accountability, sign up for a fitness event. This could be a fun run, a bike ride for charity or a 3 on 3 basketball tournament with friends. Having this goal will help give you motivation and structure to your program. Same goes if you are social and need that support/push to get going, join a club or class to go to.
Once you start exercising you’ll also notice how good you feel afterwards. You’re less stressed, refreshed and more productive for the rest of the day.
A CEO of the local YMCA told me years ago; People come for the facilities but stay for the community. That’s the key. You may start exercising because you want to be in shape but you will stick to it because you enjoy it.
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