Everybody knows exercise is important, but for many of us it feels like a hassle, or even like homework — you know you have to do it, but you really don’t want to! The result is procrastination and many missed workouts, which keep you far away from your fitness goals.
You have to figure out how to make exercise fun.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to break out of this rut. I’m going to share my four of my favorite fitness tips with you here.
Exercise… Why Is It so Important Anyway?
Before we get started it’s important to remember the basic truth about our bodies: they were built to move around. We have all these muscles for specific reasons, and we should engage those systems and muscles to keep our bodies strong.
Here’s another fundamental truth: the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate is, which is going to help keep your body fat at a low level. If you engage in regular exercise—weight-bearing exercise—then you keep your bones stronger and help prevent osteoporosis and other degenerative conditions as you age.
[Related: The #1 Cause of a Slow Metabolism]
If you want to see the effects of not exercising, you needn’t look any further than some of the elderly people in your neighborhood: as they get older, they tend to lose their tone and their posture. That’s often the effect of years and years of sitting down too much.
You can avoid this fate by simply moving and strengthening your body in specific ways; doing this will help you maintain a much better posture, even into your twilight years.
Obviously, there are also superficial reasons for exercising: everyone wants to look nice and chiseled in their T-shirts, skinny jeans and all that stuff.
Despite all of these positive reasons, the fact remains that most people have trouble maintaining a regular exercise practice. The simple reason for that is this: anytime you’re having a hard time doing something consistently, it’s because you associate pain with that activity more than pleasure.
That doesn’t have to be the case. Here, I want to show you four ways to engage in fun exercise. Let’s get into it.
How to Make Exercise Fun
1. Do What You Love
Exercise, like most everything else in modern life, has become very regimented. It’s something we compartmentalize and deal with like a necessary evil.
The general attitude is this: “I can go to work nine to five and go to the gym for an hour afterward and it’s all good.” That works for quite a few people, but for most everyone else, it’s a miserable chore that often doesn’t get done.
The simple way around this is to focus on something you love.
For example, I love being outdoors. I don’t like going to the gym all the time — even though I do enjoy the equipment the gym has, like the squat rack and pull-up bars — and I would rather spend most of my time outdoors playing tennis or soccer or throwing some kettlebells around.
What is it for you? Find what it is you love to do, and do more of that.
One note of caution I will put out there: if you’re into running, go easy with that. By all means go for it, but keep it to a minimum, because if you do too much of it, you’ll burn yourself out.
If you’re going to run, I say keep it limited to three times a week at most. Focus on interval training — breaking up your sprints with periods of jogging — so you don’t spend as much time doing huge distances, which will break your body down. By doing intervals you’ll also get much better results in about a third of the time.
[Stop Doing Cardio: Burn More Fat in Just 5 Minutes with This FREE Interval Workout]
For now, ask yourself this question: how do you enjoy moving your body?
If all you want to do is walk, that’s awesome, and you should be walking every single day. I do need to warn you that walking is not enough, so if you are going to go for a walk, I have a suggestion for you. The first is to put on a weighted vest. You can grab one on Amazon if you don’t currently have one.
I have one and it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made. It’s a 50-pound vest I’ll throw on when I walk my dogs and it helps me get a workout without even realizing it.
If you don’t want to buy a vest, you can also throw on a knapsack full of books, as it will add more resistance to what you’re doing. You want to be huffing and puffing, sweating a little bit; that’s when you’re going to get the benefits.
[Related: Walking for Weight Loss: 2 Clever Ways to Walk off 25 Pounds]
2. Enjoy the Process
It’s good to know where you’re at in relation to your weight loss goal, and I would suggest measuring your body weight or fat at least once a week. It will help you stay on track.
That said, be careful not to obsess about this. You want most of your focus to be on how you feel, not on how much you weigh.
When you start obsessing about the goal, it leads you down a path of not feeling good about yourself. You’ll get upset about the fact that you’ve only lost one pound over the period of a week, even if your jeans are fitting a lot better.
What’s more, it makes you fall out of love with what you’re doing, thus making you more likely to drop this healthy habit you’ve adopted. This all comes back to enjoying what you’re doing: if you’re doing exercises you love, then you’re going to enjoy the process.
Here’s the thing: There should be no end goal with respect to exercise.
You want to lose 20 pounds? Awesome, but what happens once you’ve hit that goal? You want to get in shape for your wedding? Awesome, but then what? You want to make this a lifestyle; it’s not just about losing 20 pounds or putting on five pounds of muscle. You need to enjoy the process so that it’s a lifelong habit.
I can’t overstate how important this is.
3. Acknowledge Your Success
As you’re continually moving on a daily basis by exercising and doing stuff you love, you want to acknowledge that. At the end of each day, look back on all you’ve accomplished in a gratitude journal.
I want you to be able to celebrate all you’ve done, whether that’s going for a 30-minute walk or simply choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Acknowledge those small successes because you can only build on success.
The key here is to shift the focus away from what you didn’t do. Break your day down and acknowledge those little wins, because that’s how you build momentum and confidence and ultimately grow to feel better about yourself. This will ensure that you keep exercising and that you eventually begin to love it.
4. Work Out with a Friend
A little company can go a long way when it’s time to work out. By simply making exercise a team effort, you’ve given yourself a degree of encouragement and commitment when your desire to get moving is flagging. If you want to figure out how to make exercise fun, having a buddy will help.
In the event that you can’t find a friend to work out with, you can always work out with me by downloading one of my iPod Interval Speed Burst workouts. I’ll be right with you in your headphones.
Whatever you choose, exercising with anyone other than the incessant critic in your own head can be tremendously helpful. What’s more, it’s simply more fun. That’s one of the things I loved about being a soccer player: it allowed me to develop an amazing bond with the 20 guys on my team, and the moral support to push myself physically was ever present. Even better? I still have a lot of those friends to this day.
If you can find someone who’s positive, empowering, and inspiring to work out with you, that’s great because you’re now accountable to them. On top of that, they’re also associated with a process you’ll find much more enjoyable now. Think of it like having a drinking buddy, only you’re building yourself up and reaching goals, rather than drowning your sorrows in bottles of beer or tumblers of whisky.
These four approaches to how to make exercise fun are all very simple, but they’re also incredibly powerful. I’m excited for you to give them a shot!
Once you’ve given them a try, or if you have any other fun workout suggestions, I would love to hear from you. In the comments section below this video, let me know if there’s something else you do that helps you make exercise more enjoyable.