Posted on Sep 05, 2023, 3 p.m.
Are you trying to improve your health by exercising more, but are struggling? Research indicates that you are much more likely to stick with an activity for the long term if you are doing one that you enjoy. The reason most people do not engage in regular exercise or find it difficult to maintain an exercise program is typically because they get bored.
Exercise can help to improve moods, energy levels, and self-esteem while lowering the risk of developing a variety of diseases and conditions. Most people are aware of the health benefits physical activity provides, but despite that, they fail to put it into practice. Unfortunately, most people think that exercise is boring, doesn’t bring any pleasure, and associate it with pain or displeasure. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are right or that exercise has to be that way.
Research shows that people are much more likely to make a habit of behaviors that make them feel happy or bring pleasure, and people are more likely to stick with an exercise program if they enjoy what they are doing. The trick is to find an activity that you enjoy doing, that suits your personality, and body type to maximize enjoyment.
Some people prefer to go to the gym, and it has many benefits that are largely convenient. But some people feel intimidated by going to the gym, some get bored easily in that setting, some people would prefer to be in their home, some people would prefer to be outside, and some people would rather be learning something new. Going to the gym is not for everyone, and there are usual alternatives like cycling, yoga, Pilates, martial arts, running, tennis, hiking, and so on. But some people need to do activities that are fun and keep them engaged in continuing to get up and move.
For those just starting off on an exercise journey, walking may be the best way to start as it is surprisingly effective at improving fitness. Studies even suggest that walking is more effective than running in reducing the risk of heart disease when the same amount of energy is expended. With just a few small modifications to our regular routines, most of us can fit in a half hour of walking time such as walking during break times, taking the stairs, parking further away from entrances, walking to the further restroom/water cooler, etc. The best thing about walking is that it is free, it requires no special equipment, and can be done just about any time and anywhere. Walking can get you outdoors and exploring new places. Walking in the park is beautiful, but imagine taking that walk to a conservation area or park trail to enjoy breathtaking scenery and nature to double down on positive effects.
Surfing is a little more adventurous but can be done as a beginner or more advanced. This is an all-over body workout that helps you to build muscle strength, balance, flexibility, and improves cardiovascular health. Surfing is a nice blend of tranquility and exercise that improves your core strength and proprioception which helps to prevent falls and injuries. However, this probably isn’t something that most people can learn on their own, so taking a few lessons beforehand is recommended. Paddleboarding is a variation that is a bit more relaxed, and windsurfing takes it to another level. There are many water activities to try out like canoeing, kayaking, water polo, and a variety of swimming styles among other fun water activities.
Those looking to improve mental concentration and visualization may be interested in archery. This activity requires absolute focus and the psychological approach to training and performance sessions is the ultimate in mindfulness that can have a very calming effect. Archery is pure in intent, similar to meditation, but it is just as demanding on the body as it is on the mind, both must work together to develop an effective technique. A great deal of coordination and strong posture is needed to draw the bow using your shoulders, arms, hands, chest, and core strength while maintaining the correct placement of your feet, hips, shoulders, and head. It is definitely not as easy as it looks, and it involves more walking than you may think as well to retrieve all those arrows. You can pick this up on your own, eventually, at least a few lessons at a range are recommended to start you off on the right technique.
Thrill seekers enjoy rock climbing, but this full-body workout that combines strength, stamina, and cardio fitness can be done at any level indoors or outdoors. Rock climbing is great for building upper body strength, using core strength, balance, as well as leg muscles. This activity is also low impact, so it is a good way to improve fitness without putting stress on your joints. As a plus the continuous stretching movements are excellent for improving flexibility and balance. It is probably best to begin indoors with an experienced partner or take some lessons before trying your hand at this outdoors to get a good grasp of the basics of proper gear, ropes, and navigation because although it can be fun it can also be dangerous.
Roller Derby and roller skating improve cardio fitness, all-over strength, balance, coordination, endurance, and self-confidence. However, they are not the same, Derby is a full-contact team sport that develops teamwork skills, cooperation, and encourages fair play, while roller skating is pushing to glide, while you avoid running into slower skaters and enjoy the roll. Some people make this look much easier than it is, and it is not for everyone, but those who are able to master staying upright really enjoy this fun-filled activity for hours at a time, multiple days a week. Roller skating can be done at any age, and at every skill level, but beginners should invest in personal safety equipment because they will be falling down, frequently. It is not difficult to learn once you get your balance sorted out, and this full-body workout will have you sweating while having fun.
Most people overlook dancing as being exercise because letting loose on the dancefloor is so much fun, but it is exercise. Whether you like salsa, ballet, stomp, jazz, waltz, hip hop, tap, or foxtrot, dancing has many health benefits as well as being extremely fun. Dancing improves cardio fitness, balance, coordination, posture, and flexibility, as well as promotes bone health, all while keeping the mind sharp and body active. Dancing is not just for the young, all ages can benefit from the social and cultural activity of these engaging movements. Dancing as fun as it is has a bit of a love/hate reputation, but once people try it out they grow to like it. Even those with 2 left feet can enjoy dancing, perhaps trying Jazzercise or Zumba at home to learn some moves beforehand will help you to build up some confidence as they guide you through every move, even at home it is still fun and gets you up to move around.
There are many forms of exercise that are also fun, if none of these sound interesting to you a quick search can list pages full of activities for you to try. Exercise does not have to be painful or boring, in fact, it can be exhilaratingly far from those misconceptions. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and the world is a big beautiful place just waiting for you to discover nature-filled adventures. Go outside and have fun exploring and exercising, or find an activity inside that really gets you excited, it is well worth every effort, and you are worth the benefits that come with improved fitness. Be well and enjoy.
This article was written by Tamsyn Webber at Worldhealth.net
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
Content may be edited for style and length.
References/Sources/Materials provided by:
Wikipedia contributors, Hedonic motivation, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,
Salmon J1, Owen N, Crawford D, Bauman A, Sallis JF (2003). Physical activity and sedentary behavior: a population-based study of barriers, enjoyment, and preference. Health Psychology. Mar;22(2):178-88
Baldwin DR, Datta S, Bassett DR, et al (2016). Acta Psychopathol. Feel Better But Exercise Less: An Examination of Exercise Enjoyment, Personality and Physical Activity in Young Adults.
Ramblers and Macmillian Cancer Support, Walking Works (PDF)
Karlek, Sandy, 2015, Benefits of Balance Exercises – Enhancing your Proprioception
Pittsinger, Ryan Frank, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, LONG BEACH (2009). The effect of a single bout of surfing on exercise-induced affect
Fortadam, skyaboveus, 2016, Traditional Archery : A Wonderful Form of Modern Meditation
Health Fitness Revolution (2015). Top 10 Health Benefits of Roller Derby.
New England Journal of Medicine (2003). Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly.