All workouts are difficult, there is no way to avoid that. Whenever you move an object through space and time, whether it is your own body weight, a barbell, or a kettlebell, you are doing work. According to physics, this is defined as a force causing an object to move. However, there is another definition of “work” which is an unpleasant but necessary activity that helps you achieve the desired outcome. Many people’s workouts end up embodying this second definition, making them feel like a chore. This is why so many people who know they should be exercising remain sedentary and unfit. We don’t have to do physical activity anymore to survive, so if it feels like a miserable experience, why would we do it?
Here are some tips to make your workouts feel more like play and less like work.
Find an Activity That’s Intrinsically Rewarding
There will always be external rewards for working out, like looking better or being healthier. But if you actually enjoy working out, you’re more likely to stick with it. Find an activity that you would do even if it didn’t have any benefits and make that part of your workout routine.
If You Hate Something, Try Something Else
Hating your work is a terrible way to live. The most important change in thinking is to not do things you hate. It’s a awful way to live if you hate what you do.
You don’t have to love your workout routine, but if you dread it and find every excuse to skip it, that’s worth paying attention to.
Is there something that you hate doing even though you know it’s good for you? Try to find an alternative that accomplishes the same thing but that you actually enjoy. For example, if you hate back squats, try front squats instead. If you hate spin class, try hill sprints. If you hate dedicated cardio or HIIT sessions, try playing pickup basketball twice a week.
Try Competing Against Other Entities
I enjoy finding new ways to better myself. I like beating my own records, surpassing my own achievements, and improving on my former self. I also like a competition against other humans. That’s why I ran marathons and competed in triathlons for so long—I liked beating the other guys. It’s also why I love Ultimate Frisbee. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of competition to make you forget about how hard you’re working and how great of a workout you’re getting.
You can compete in CrossFit, in pickup games at the park, in adult recreation leagues. Anything will work.
Get Better Goals
Me? My goal is to play better:
- I want to be able to play Ultimate every weekend with guys 3o years younger (and keep up).
- I want to go out for a paddling session whenever I want and not have it feel like work.
- I want to hit the slopes all weekend and be able to drive home without my quads cramping up every time I hit the brake.
- And I want to do all that while staying injury-free.
I am training to maintain my fitness, muscle mass, connective tissue, and bone mineral density. I am not trying to set any new personal records because it is too risky and it does not help me achieve my goals. I have found a training routine that works for me and helps me achieve my goals. This makes the “boring” parts of training more enjoyable because I am working toward something that I love and need.
Approximately half of my training consists of play and the other half is training that gets me closer to the play, supporting it. I understand what I am doing and why, do you?
Integrate Training Into Your Work Day
When you feel the need for a break from work, try doing a physical activity instead of just sitting there. Go for a walk, run up and down the stairs, do some pushups and squats, or swing a kettlebell around. You’re still working, just in a different way. The change from mental to physical activity will refresh you and make you want to keep going.
If you take fitness breaks throughout the day, you will be more motivated to work and more productive when you do. This is because better blood flow to the brain helps improve focus.
I find that taking a ten-minute break to move or train every hour is the perfect amount of time.
Take Up a Martial Art
Humans are violent by nature and this is reflected in our history. We should accept this part of ourselves and use it in a positive way by learning how to control it. This doesn’t mean we should go out and start fights, but that we should be prepared physically and mentally to handle conflict in a safe and positive way.
I really regret not learning a martial art sooner. I’ve been learning from a friend who is experienced and they have shown me a few things and we do drills together. This has only made me realize how much I have missed out on. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
This is a great way to spend some time with your kids if you have them. Have everyone hang out in the kitchen as you prep dinner. Play some music and dance around. Get silly. Try something new. You can use Spotify or a similar service to play music.
I prefer the “A to Z of African Dance” YouTube video. I like the beat and the dancers, and it provides good ideas for exercises that are also good for your health.
Bend With Friends
Meet up with some friends and take a yoga class together, then go out for a healthy dinner afterward.
Pump Up the Volume
Choose music that will motivate you to work hard during your cardio sessions, and choose slower songs for when you are cooling down and stretching. Keep your playlist interesting by shuffling it.
Catch a Little TV
You can watch your favorite program while you exercise on your bike instead of sitting in your easy chair. If you’re just starting out, you can take a break during the commercials and then pedal through the rest of the show.
The University of California’s Department of Preventative Medicine has conducted research which has found that people who exercise with their spouse, friends, or coworkers enjoy it more.
If you’re looking for a change of pace, try getting your workout outdoors. Take a walk, go for a hike, or go for a swim. You’ll get some fresh air and scenery, and you might even find that you enjoy working out in nature.
You should keep a record of your workouts and take pictures of your progress to stay motivated.
Dress for Success
Cheap gym clothes won’t kill your workout, but the wrong gear can make it harder. Sweaty, chafing clothes are distracting, and ill-fitting shoes can cause blisters.
You need to give your body time to recover between workouts so that it can function properly. This means making time for activities like relaxing, reading, and visiting friends, instead of only going to the gym.
Celebrate Small Victories
One way to approach starting to exercise is to set small, achievable goals that can be met in a short amount of time. For example, losing one pound a week for a month.
Run (or Walk) for a Good Cause
When working out, set a goal for yourself to train for a breast cancer walk or a similar event. This will make your workout more enjoyable.
Add Some Variety
If you find yourself getting bored with your workout routine, mix it up! Changing your routine frequently can help you avoid boredom, and also prevent you from hitting a fitness plateau.
Creating a reward system for yourself can help you stay motivated to stay in shape. Try rewarding yourself with something healthy like a post-workout smoothie after you’ve completed a workout.
Ease Into It
To begin your workout, start with some light cardio to warm up. This will stimulate your brain to produce endorphins, which will create a natural “high.”
Jumping rope is a great workout for people of all ages – not just kids. In fact, did you know that it burns the same amount of calories as running?
Ready to improve your stamina and balance? Start by jumping on a personal trampoline.
Jump on a Pogo Stick
If you’re looking for an alternative to jumping that won’t put as much stress on your joints, try a pogo stick. You’ll still get many of the same benefits as with jumping exercises.
If you or your kids like playing video games, you should try out some that are exercises.
Don’t Save the Worst for Last
Work your hardest exercises in the middle of your routine as a way to mark the “top of the hill.” You’ll be more motivated to finish your routine knowing that the rest is all downhill.
This workout combines kayaking and surfing and is very challenging for your core.
Get Professional Help
A professional trainer can help you create a workout routine that is both enjoyable and tailored to your specific needs.
Learn New Things
You can improve your speed on the treadmill by listening to TED Talks or podcasts that you enjoy. By loading these onto your MP3 player, you can gain knowledge in the same way you would listen to music.
Push Yourself (Gently)
If you’re feeling like giving up on a workout, challenge yourself to do just one more rep, minute, or mile. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment because you pushed yourself just a little further.
When you find yourself struggling during your workout, try to remember an empowering mantra that will help push you to continue. Something like “I can do this” repeated in your head can make a big difference.
Stand on Your Head
You can improve your balance and control by trying something new. Start by leaning against a wall, and then gradually move to doing it without support.
Eating protein will help improve your workouts by giving you more energy.
Get Some Doggone Company
Get the most out of your workout by walking your dog, playing fetch, and socializing with other dog owners at the dog park.
This workout gives you a dual action by working your leg and midsection muscles. When you push off, you’re engaging your leg muscles; when you pull back, you’re working your midsection.
After you watch the viral video, try out some of the moves yourself to get a better workout.
Do a Domestic Sprint
Does housework make you feel like you’re stuck in a never-ending cycle?Get some extra motivation by challenging yourself to a five-minute housework blitz. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done in such a short amount of time. Better yet, involve your kids in the fun and get them to help out. You’ll all be done in no time!
Pedal While Sitting
If you’re just starting to work out or can’t stand for long periods of time, try using a foot peddler while sitting down.
Sit and Be Fit
The Sit and Be Fit chair exercise program is another option for exercise while sitting.
You can count flexing your muscles as exercise. For example, you can flex your abs, back, or arms each time you get into your car or stop at a red light.
You can improve your leg muscles by doing squats while brushing your teeth. This won’t affect your oral hygiene, and it’s a great way to stay in shape.
Take the Stairs
You can gamify taking the stairs instead of the elevator by accumulating points for each flight. Once you reach 100 points, you can give yourself a small reward.
Go Creek Walking
If you have a creek nearby, visit it once a week for the next month. Spend at least an hour each visit exploring, jumping from rock to rock, balancing on logs, wading through the water, squatting down to look for crawdads, frogs and salamanders. Sprint up banks, crawl, lift heavy rocks and logs. This is a great opportunity to get a variety of movement patterns, expose yourself to nature, and get some barefoot time.
Jumping jacks are a great way to burn a lot of calories while having fun.
Get those biceps working out (not your back) and have a friendly contest with friends.
Have a Pillow fight
Have a pillow fight with your kids or partner to have some fun and get your heart rate up.
Play Tag or Frisbee
It’s fun and a great workout to play classic outdoor games.