Make “Fit” and “Fun” Go Together

One big barrier to fitness is the impression many people have of it as painful drudgery. They picture themselves grimacing and sweating. They conjure up memories of dreaded gym classes or fad-workout failures. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can make fitness fun. And if you do, you just might find you establish a new habit. As psychotherapist, Melanie Eisner told, “The more you genuinely just enjoy something, the more you will be apt to stick with it.” Here are some suggestions for making that shift.

Pick your passion. Don’t start with what you think you should do; start with what you want to do. Did you love riding a bike as a kid? Get back on two wheels. Like going to the pool? Start a swimming routine. Enjoy listening to podcasts? Do so while taking a walk. Whatever you like to do, work it into a fitness option.

Mix it up. If you get bored easily, take a multifaceted approach: Run one day, bike another. Play pickleball one morning and take a hike on another. Don’t be a single-sport superstar; do whatever is necessary to increase your activity.

Gamify it. This takes “mixing up” to a whole new level. Put together a list of activities you can do to get fit and then let chance decide which ones you’ll do on any given day. Flip a coin, for example, roll some dice, draw cards or put a playlist on “Random.” For more ideas, click here.

Make it social. You’re more likely to do anything if you do it with friends. Gather folks with similar fitness levels and plan your exercise sessions together.

Redefine exercise. Don’t think of exercise as running, pumping iron, taking fitness classes and so on. Think of it as anything that increases your heart rate, strengthens your muscles and improves your flexibility and balance. Have a 30-minute dance night a few times a week. Challenge your kids to energetic backyard games. Get a fitness-based video game (virtually every game platform has a few). Do some yard work.

Treat yourself. Buy some gear that will make exercising more enticing, like new workout clothes or equipment. Just remember: The point isn’t to break the bank, it’s to break into a new routine.

Reward yourself. Set up a goal-and-reward system that gives you something to look forward to, like a massage after 20 exercise sessions, or a special dinner after a month of workouts. And then be sure to claim each reward and set a new one.

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