Exercise doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. Exercise physiologist Kathleen Alleaume has the lowdown on how to put the fun into fitness.
Ok, so you’re finding it hard to believe how you could ever enjoy exercising, because right now it seems like plain hard work. But as you get fitter, meet like-minded people, develop better skills and start to see results, you’ll find that exercise can be a lot of fun. Here are 10 ways to put some playfulness into your exercise routine.
1. Phone a friend
Don’t underestimate the power of the buddy system. Having someone to exercise with can help you get started and keep you motivated. You can challenge each other, help each other, make each other laugh or make a game out of your exercise program. It could also be a great chance to catch up.
2. Think games
When recreation springs to mind, you’re likely to picture yourself laughing, relaxing and spending time with friends and family. When was the last time you thought about having a picnic? More than just eating, resting and enjoying the outdoors, a picnic can be a great opportunity to exercise – play catch with the kids, have a game of cricket or just kick a footy around.
3. Hit the right note
Almost any sport or exercise can be done to music and you’ll be surprised by how much your favourite tunes can energise you. But don’t have the volume too loud or you won’t be aware of what’s going on around you.
4. Go places
If you usually exercise indoors, take advantage of great weather by going to your local park to exercise for a change. Or walk to your favourite café or local restaurant instead of driving, to build up an appetite for the healthier offerings on the menu. What’s more, it’s fun to play tourist in your home town and walk around monuments and historic spots. You could also check out festivals and markets in your area.
5. Become an expert
Whatever activity you choose, you will enjoy it more if you learn all about it. Search the web for interesting sites; join a discussion forum and get involved. Every activity has its enthusiasts and you will be amazed at how friendly and helpful they are.
6. Reward yourself
Set goals and plan special rewards for yourself when you reach them. Have a massage after a vigorous exercise session, soak yourself in a hot tub or treat yourself to a (healthy) lunch with your exercise buddy.
7. Be a team player
Join a club! You are much more likely to continue your exercise program if there are common goals, you’re having a sociable time and other people are counting on your participation.
8. Mix it up
Tired of the same thing, same time, day after day, week after week? As soon as you feel you’re getting into a rut with your exercise routine, switch to something else. Make a point of trying something you haven’t done before.
9. Go away
Plan holidays built around fun activities such as skiing, white-water rafting, canoeing, mountain hiking, cycling, abseiling... the list is endless. You can also get involved in these kinds of activities on a one-off basis. Check the local travel agent to see what adventure travel deals they have going.
10. Need a challenge?
Consider getting a personal trainer – they can keep you motivated, push you past those self-imposed limits and encourage you to set new goals and challenge yourself. What’s more, you’ll find it’s difficult to slacken off with a trainer standing over you, telling you to do just... one... more... rep! No doubt you’ll be reaping the rewards soon after.
The national guidelines recommend the minimum amount of physical activity you need to do to enhance your health is at least 30 minutes at a moderate pace on most, preferably all, days of the week. Start gradually, say three times a week, and build up to every second day, then every day.
But before you start any exercise program, get the ok from your doctor.