Staying physically active is vitally important for our health and well-being. However, finding exercises and activities that you actually enjoy enough to stick with can be a challenge. The key is experimenting with different workouts that align with your interests, lifestyle, and personality until you uncover those that leave you feeling energized. Read on for an in-depth guide on making exercise fun so you can maintain an active lifestyle long-term.
The Importance of Enjoying Physical Activity
Engaging in regular exercise provides enormous health benefits, from reducing your risk of chronic illnesses, to boosting your mood, to improving your sleep quality and energy levels. But just because we all know we “should” be active doesn’t mean it’s always easy to stay motivated. By finding activities you genuinely love, exercise can become a rewarding daily habit instead of a chore.
Some key reasons why it’s crucial to enjoy the exercise you do:
- You’ll be more likely to stick with it consistently. When you like a workout, you’ll look forward to doing it versus dreading it. This means long-term adherence instead of on-and-off efforts.
- It enhances the mental health perks. Enjoyable workouts are wonderful stress relievers and mood boosters, amplifying the feel-good endorphins and sense of accomplishment exercise provides.
- Variety prevents boredom down the line. Having different activities in your roster that you can alternate between keeps things interesting in your regimen.
The Art of Healthy Living guide below includes tips for experimenting with new workouts, making exercise social and fun, setting goals tailored to different activities, and overcoming obstacles. Discovering one or a few pastimes that make you excited to sweat has so many physical and mental payoffs – ultimately helping you pursue lifelong fitness.
Identifying Your Interests and Preferences
Before testing out various workouts, take some time to reflect on your personality, lifestyle, and tendencies. Factors like whether you enjoy solo or group activities, prefer being indoors or outdoors, like variety or consistency, and have any limitations due to health conditions all impact what exercise options will suit you best.
Indoor vs Outdoor Interests
Do you prefer being out in nature and moving your body through open spaces? Or does a climate-controlled gym with all equipment at your fingertips sound more appealing?
Outdoor workouts like hiking, running, beach activities, snow sports, and more can help you feel more connected to the beauty around you while you move. However, indoor options like classes, training sessions, recreational sports teams, and home workout programs allow you to exercise regardless of weather or seasons. Think about which environments inspire you more.
Social vs Solo Preferences
Next, consider whether you like exercising alone to clear your head, listen to your own music, and do your own thing – or if you prefer company to chat with and feel motivated by.
Solo activities allow you to be independent and go at your own pace, like following along with workout videos, using gym equipment on your own, or going for long walks or jogs with just your headphones. Group options like recreational sports, spin classes, training with a buddy, or playing pickup basketball games at the park involve camaraderie – keeping you on track because you don’t want to let down teammates or friends.
Identify whether you tend to be introverted or extroverted when it comes to fitness environments to pick activities aligned with your temperament. You can also blend both social and solo workouts to get the benefits of each.
Reflecting On Enjoyable Physical Activities From Childhood
Sometimes thinking back to our youth can offer inspiration into types of exercise we naturally gravitated towards. Were you always climbing trees, swimming, or dancing around the house? Did you love roller blading the neighborhood or bike riding with friends?
Making note of any sports, creative outlets, outdoor play or games you enjoyed as a kid is a great starting point for brainstorming current activities to try. You likely still possess those same innate movement preferences. Plus, reigniting a passion for something you did years ago often brings extra nostalgia and happiness!
Trying Different Activities To Find Your Favorites
Once you have a handle on the general environments and settings you may prefer, it’s time to experiment! Be open to playing with workouts across various categories – like group classes, individual sports, creative endeavors, outdoor adventures and more – to pinpoint ones that spark joy.
Testing Group Exercise Classes
Local gyms, community centers and studios offer so many amazing group workout formats these days catering to all interests. With motivating music, a social atmosphere and instructors guiding you through, classes are extremely popular ways to get active. Consider sampling different options like:
- Yoga or Tai Chi for moving meditation
- Zumba or other dance workouts to bust stress and have fun
- Cycling/Spinning classes for an intense cardio burn
- Pilates for full body strength paired with flexibility
- HIIT (high intensity interval training) to torch calories
- Martial Arts inspired kickboxing or Capoeira for cardio plus badassery
- Barre sculpting classes for a ballet inspired burn
- Strength training like TRX suspension, kettlebell or bodyweight workouts
- Water aerobics for low impact pool time
See what’s available near you and try a few for free or at a drop-in rate. Having diversity prevents boredom so aim to switch it up and test several genres to determine which you love.
Outdoor Sports And Adventures
If you gravitate towards outdoor activity, playing recreational sports or testing adrenaline-pumping adventures can make for super fun workouts. Explore what’s available in your area and give some a go, like:
- Team Sports: Join a casual soccer, baseball, basketball, rugby, hockey, cricket or other athletic league.
- Water Sports: Try kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), surfing, water skiing or open water swimming for aquatic challenges.
- Racquet Sports: Take tennis, badminton, squash or pickleball lessons and play competitively.
- Outdoors Obstacle Courses: Visit ninja warrior-style adventure parks or try events like mud runs, Spartan races and urban dash challenges.
- Snow Sports: Hit the slopes to ski, snowboard, snowshoe walk, sled, ice skate or even play hockey once the winter weather rolls around.
These activities provide cardiovascular conditioning, muscular endurance and mental determination while you pick up new skills and socialize.
Household Chores And Lifestyle Activities
You need not even leave home to get quality exercise! Daily chores and lifestyle habits also count. Finding creative ways to incorporate physical activity into mundane tasks makes them more enjoyable. Turn on fun music and:
- Do yardwork like mowing, raking leaves, gardening and digging
- Scrub bathrooms, vacuum and mop energetically
- Walk or jog instead of drive for short trips
- Take the stairs whenever possible
- Schedule active playtime with your kids or pets
- Dance while you cook and clean!
Small bursts of heart-pumping effort truly add up over the course of a day.
Making Your Workouts More Fun And Social
While trying all these new fitness ventures, also consider how to add a social component to make exercising even more entertaining long term. Research consistently shows that having company makes physical activity much more enjoyable. Apply these tips:
Having a consistent gym buddy or workout partner not only adds camaraderie, it provides mutual accountability. When you’ve made plans to meet a friend for a class or to walk together, you’re much less likely to cancel even when motivation is low. Make standing exercise dates and encourage each other.
Gamifying workouts is another way to lift your mood while being active. Play basketball HORSE, go on scavenger hunt nature walks together, do follows-the-leader exercises taking turns leading routines, create trust-building partner challenges, play tag variations outdoors, jump rope games like “double dutch”, and more.
Joining Recreational League Teams
As mentioned in the “Trying New Activities” section, joining local recreational sports teams allows you to get exercise while meeting new people and building community bonds. Have fun playing with coworkers, neighbors, friends or family while improving cardiovascular health.
Taking Class Packages
Instead of just dropping into classes solo here and there, purchase multi-class packages or memberships at your favorite boutique studios. Seeing the same instructors and classmates each week helps you make connections and workout buddies. Plus special member perks and community events are fun bonuses!
Tracking Progress and Setting Goals
As you determine activities you enjoy, don’t forget to track your efforts and establish positive goals to motivate you as you build lifelong fitness habits.
Using Journals Or Fitness Apps to Track Progress
Today there are many wonderful apps and journal options to help log your workouts, measure progress overtime and provide inspiration through social networking with others pursuing health goals. Choose a tool that suits your needs and personality. Examples include:
- MyFitnessPal: ideal for logging workouts plus keeping tabs on nutrition and water intake with friends
- Strava: perfect for runners and cyclists who want pacing analysis plus route mapping
- Fitbit App: best paired with their wearable trackers to count steps, heart rate and sleep
- MindBody App: integrates with many studios’ class booking systems and tracks attendance
- Pen-and-paper journals: low-tech but allows personalized entries on reps, weights, distances and more
Find what feels right for you. Tracking keeps you accountable and lets you see fitness milestones achieved.
Realistic, Measurable Goals
Develop specific and achievable short and long term fitness objectives tailored to each activity you undertake. Examples include:
“Do 30 minutes of cardio-kickboxing 3x per week for the next 3 months”
“Practice yoga 20 minutes daily by the end of January to improve flexibility”
“Finish my first 5K running race on March 10th”
“Increase weight lifted in deadlifts from 100 to 150 lbs by mid-April”
Having defined and measurable goals, written down with target dates, propels your motivation as you work diligently to accomplish them. Reward yourself when you hit each one!
On the topic of rewards, be sure to actively celebrate health and fitness milestones along your journey to acknowledge your hard work. Completing an initial 30-day yoga challenge, running your longest distance yet, advancing to a new belt color in martial arts…these are all huge wins! Treat yourself to a massage, pedicure, new workout gear or fun outing with friends in honor of the progress made. Keep spirits lifted by relishing your victories.
Overcoming Obstacles and Staying Motivated
Of course, even when you find activities that bring you joy, staying motivated 100% of the time is near impossible. All of us face barriers like busy schedules, intimidating new environments, high costs or unpredictable moods that threaten to derail our consistency. Employ these techniques to power through:
Schedule Workouts Like Appointments
Treat exercise sessions as seriously as you would meetings for work – blocking off time for them in your calendar to make physical activity a non-negotiable daily priority rather than something done if time allows. This prevents your workout from being bumped by other commitments.
Recognize Normal Ups and Downs
Understand that your motivation levels will fluctuate naturally based on stress, health issues arising, or simple bad days now and then. Cut yourself some slack to take rest days when needed knowing you’ll resume exercise soon. Even fitness pros need recovery periods!
Add Diversity to Prevent Burnout
As noted earlier, rotating between several different activities you enjoy staves off boredom and prevents the mental staleness than can come from repetitive training. Cross train by adding swimming, tennis and dance classes to your regular gym routine for an infusion of newness.
Enlist Friends to Lift You Up
We all have spells where encouragement from others can make the difference helping us lace up our shoes rather than sit on the couch. Surround yourself with positive people who remind you gently to get moving when you’re feeling uninspired. Fitness community keeps you going.
Consider Professional Guidance
Finally, don’t hesitate to seek expert support if you need help establishing an enjoyable exercise regimen that optimizes your health. Ask questions and get custom advice.
Hire a Personal Trainer
Working one-on-one with a qualified personal trainer provides personalized guidance catered exactly to your needs and preferences for activities, with progress oversight, safety education, form correction and varied workout programming. Make finding the right fit with a pro you like a priority.
Seek Doctor’s Clearance
For those managing chronic illnesses or injury recovery, chat with your physician before undertaking new fitness regimens to ensure activities you consider will be safe and helpful versus risky given current health status. Doctors can review your treatment plans and provide “prescriptions” for exercise types and intensity levels appropriate as you strive for fitness.
Maintaining an active lifestyle provides such profound enhancements to both physical health and mental outlook. Yet sticking with exercise long term hinges hugely on actually enjoying the activities you do. Testing out different indoor/outdoor endeavors, solo/group formats, recreational sports and more until you find those that put a smile on your face makes all the difference in creating sustainable fitness habits.
Remember finding workouts you love requires embracing a spirit of play, being social, tracking measurable progress markers, celebrating small milestones achieved, and asking for guidance when you need it. Most importantly, approach becoming more active by prioritizing happiness in movement. Allow types of exercise you gravitate towards naturally to guide you as you grow stronger, build resilience and enhance wellness for life.