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Make Exercise Fun: 8 Simple Ways to Bring Joy to Your Workouts

Make Exercise Fun: 8 Simple Ways to Bring Joy to Your Workouts
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By    |   Tuesday, 07 June 2016 01:51 PM

Everyone knows that exercise is a pillar of good health, but it can also be a drag. Let’s face it – some days you’d rather sleep in than bike, or eat at the local deli rather than take a lunchtime run, or enjoy an evening cocktail rather than hit the gym after a tough day at work.

Exercise takes effort and can even hurt a bit. But you can take the pain out of the gain by following these eight fun-generating tips from experts:

Partner up. One recent study showed that people were five times more likely to exercise if their significant others did it, too. And it’s not limited to spouses. Partnering up with a pal or joining a fitness class appeals to our social instinct as human beings. “A support system brings camaraderie, collaboration, accountability, and perhaps some friendly competition,” says Fabio Comana, an instructor at the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

Let music move you. Anyone who’s ever exercised to his or her favorite songs knows that the music can make your workout seem easier. It distracts you from the pain, boosts mood and even has some metabolic effects. “Music is like is a legal drug for athletes,” says Costas Karageorghis, a world authority on the psychology of music and exercise at London’s Brunel University School of Sport and Education. “It can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent.”

Change routines. For most of us, doing the same things day in and day out gets downright boring – and that’s no fun. Switching up exercises is not only invigorating to the spirit but also good for your body. “Many individuals need to try different activities to stay enthusiastic and excited about their workouts,” notes Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council of Exercise (ACE). “By varying their exercise routines, individuals can not only stay physically challenged, but mentally stimulated as well.”

Play games. You get plenty of exercise without even thinking about it when you’re playing games like tennis, racquetball, soccer, and basketball. “The bottom line is it’s fun,” says Dr. Michael Stuart, chief medical officer of USA Hockey. “We preach exercise, yet you must enjoy it or you will not be compliant in the long term. If you really love to play hockey or basketball, it’s a wonderful way to exercise.”

Get outside. The great outdoors has a rejuvenating effect. Spinning is an excellent form of exercise, but riding a mountain bike along a forest trail is a lot more interesting. You can get a good workout by doing things like kayaking, surfing, rock climbing, hiking, or even walking the dog. “Unplug from the electronic world and start to take in the sights, the smells, the sounds around you,” suggests Colorado outdoor fitness instructor Ellen Miller. “Nature is incredibly therapeutic.”

Hit the dance floor. If you like to shake a tail feather, it may be the most enjoyable way for you to work out. “Dancing is a great way to get fit, and there’s a type to appeal to everyone: ballroom, country and western, salsa, African, folk dancing, square dancing,” say the medical experts at WebMD. “You don't even need a partner. Try belly dancing, hula, clogging, or tap dancing.”

Have another purpose. Taking the stairs instead of elevator, riding a bike to run errands, doing yardwork, washing the car and cleaning the house all give you some exercise while you accomplish other things. Experts even have a name for it: Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). When exercise isn’t your primary purpose, your mindset about it changes, and it doesn’t seem so tedious. “You can expend calories in one of two ways,” notes Mayo Clinic obesity expert Dr. James Levine. “One is to go to the gym and the other is through all the activities of daily living.”

Go digital. Active-play video games, also called exergaming, are a perfectly acceptable — and fun — way to get a good workout. Wii, X-Box, and PlayStation all have fitness games, and researchers at the American Council for Fitness declare: “Exergaming has the potential to be a safe and effective tool for maintaining or improving cardiovascular fitness.”


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Exercise is a pillar of good health, but it can also be a drag. But there are ways to make a workout more enjoyable or even fun. Here are eight fun-generating tips from sports and fitness experts to keep you smiling while you're sweating.
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2016-51-07
Tuesday, 07 June 2016 01:51 PM
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