We get it. You’re sitting there, reading this article, maybe raising a skeptical eyebrow at the idea that physical activity could be exciting.
We could go on and on about the long-term health benefits of raising your heart rate for 30 minutes a day. We could tell you that when you do muscle-building workouts, you can strengthen your bones and help keep muscle mass during weight loss. We could mention how physical activity can help support mental health and improve sleep.
But… would that really get you excited about getting active?
OK, everyone’s idea of exciting is different. At the very least, we can show you that physical activity doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Read on, and you may uncover some ways to get active that you never thought of.
Picture activity as entertainment
Let’s start simple. There are so many ways to get fit and have fun doing it. You may already have tried things like gardening, playing with kids or pets, vacuuming…
Not into vacuuming? Fair enough. How about video games?
Exergaming is video gaming that involves an active physical component. Practice your boxing moves or swing a virtual sword in time to music. You’ll get active while you rack up points.
You can even be active doing something that’s normally passive. Try sitting down in front of the TV or computer with a set of hand weights or bounce on an exercise ball. Get your heart and muscles going while your brain focuses on your favorite show or podcast, and watch the time fly by.
Privacy is possible
Many people are understandably hesitant about being “on display” while they are being active. If you prefer not to go to the gym but still want the help of a fitness trainer, there are many apps and websites which can guide you through workouts at home. Search for types of activity that suit your style, skill level, and budget.
If you like using gym equipment but don’t like crowds, check with your health club to see when they are less busy. This could help you avoid waiting in line for the treadmill and keep some distance between yourself and those around you.
Social media offers an astonishing variety of physical activity videos in very short clips. You may find a yoga instructor who posts videos specifically for people carrying excess weight or a juggler who can help you learn circus arts. There’s no limit to the content on social media, but be careful not to spend too much sedentary time before you start. If your intention is to get active, it might help to set yourself a time limit on browsing.
Note: We don’t endorse any particular website, app, health club, or video game, and we’re not responsible for any content you find online. Please talk with your health care provider before adding any new type of physical activity to your routine.
Pair walking with something you love
You don’t have to go high tech to have fun. Try taking a classic activity like walking and give it a new twist.
Here’s a week’s worth of walking ideas that you can look forward to:
|Make it social
Walk with a friend
|Make it social
Walk with a friend
|Change the scenery
Explore a new place
|Expand your horizons
Take a walking tour
|Go easy on your joints
Walk laps in a pool
Visit a park or forest preserve
|Beat the heat
Walk in the mornings or later in the evening
|Lose yourself in a story
Enjoy a podcast or audiobook while walking
Indulge yourself in one of these enjoyable options during every walk. After a while, you may start to look forward to it.
Don’t think: Make it a habit
If you’re still feeling resistance to getting active, you can create a habit through simple repetition. The great thing about habits is that you don’t have to convince yourself to do them.
Start by identifying a simple kind of physical activity you can do at the same time every day. It’s okay to start small. Ideally, it should last 10-30 minutes and increase your heart rate. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s doable and you can repeat it consistently.
Then pair it with something you already do. When you repeatedly do the same two things back to back, one becomes a cue for the other. For instance, after you eat breakfast every day, go for a walk around the neighborhood. Do this for enough days in a row, and every time you finish breakfast, you may immediately move to put on your walking shoes. You don’t think about it—you just do it.
Remove obstacles and distractions
“Wait, where did I put my shoes…?” Uh-oh. You’re about to lose your momentum. Planning can help—put your shoes by the kitchen door before bed each night. Then the next morning, breakfast dishes go in the sink, shoes go on your feet, and you go out the door.
“But my kids keep interrupting me!” The best way to block out the noise is to prevent it by setting aside time for yourself. Talk with your kids, spouse, or roommate beforehand and put a note on the breakfast table, reminding yourself and everyone else that the next half hour is reserved for you.
It may take a couple of tries, but you can create conditions for doing things consistently.
As with everything related to weight management, find what works for you. This is your chance to take ownership of a physical activity routine and make it a truly satisfying experience.