Let’s be honest: There will be some days when your workout will feel like a chore. Even professional athletes moan and groan sometimes before tying up their sneakers. Whether you’re tired after a busy day, bored with your routine or frustrated with a lack of results, it can be challenging to get off the couch and get moving. Before you start thinking physical activity is destined to feel like another unwanted task on a too-long to-do list, consider adding some fun back into your routine.
To see how much fun exercise can be, go to a different kind of gym–a jungle gym. There, you’ll see kids chasing each other at full speed, swinging, jumping, throwing balls and finding energy they never knew they had. You’ll never hear a kid complain about going to the gym. What’s their secret? Simple: They’re exercising without knowing it. They’re having so much fun that they aren’t thinking about how many minutes are left until the workout is over or how many calories they are burning.
Now imagine having that kind of enthusiasm when you exercise. The good news is that it’s not just kids who can have that attitude. All it takes is a little creativity and an expansion of your definition of the concept of physical activity.
There’s nothing wrong with traditional workouts. You can get awesome results at the gym or boutique studio, but sometimes you can get even better results by staying active in other ways. Even going to the gym can seem less like work if you follow some of these fun strategies.
- Be a kid again. Who says the park is just for kids? Monkey bars and rope climbs provide a challenge for the upper body, and a park bench can be used for heart-pumping step-ups. Climb a slide for a full-body burn or lean back in a swing, legs up and crisscrossing in a V-position for a core challenge. If you look around, you'll find all the equipment you need for a full-body workout!
- Do double-duty housework. Raking leaves, shoveling snow, vacuuming–these tasks can bring a sense of dread unless they help you check two things off of your to-do list. Why not make the most of it by turning chores into a workout? Make a conscious effort to pick up the pace and move continuously. Add lunges when you vacuum, squats when you clean shower doors and take smaller loads of laundry up and down the stairs. By intentionally challenging yourself to work a variety of muscles while completing tasks that need to get done, you'll have a happy home, less stress and a strong body.
- Mix up your routine. Fitness can start to feel like a chore when you get bored with your routine. If you like walking but your route is feeling stale, try a trail at the park. If gym workouts are your thing but you’re not motivated to go lately, try mixing things up with a new class instead. Sometimes all it takes is a small change to bring the fun back.
- Create a new playlist. Research shows that music can distract people from fatigue while improving mood and increasing endurance. Walking on a treadmill? Use a variety of songs to set and change your pace. Starting a workout you know is going to be a challenge? Include plenty of pump-up tunes to keep you motivated and confident that you will reach the finish line.
- Buddy up! Exercise is always more fun with a friend. Instead of counting the minutes until your solo run is over, a little conversation can make the workout fly by. Having a buddy can also push you to work harder than you might alone while also keeping you accountable since you're showing up for both yourself and your friend. Add some extra fun with your buddy by alternating who chooses the workouts so that every other session is a surprise!
If you want physical activity to be a lifelong habit, you must find ways to make it enjoyable. No one sticks with something long-term if they always dread it. When you get creative, you can replace the “work” in your workout with fun.