Ways to Make Fitness Fun

How did going to the gym become such a chore? Why is it so hard to actually want to go? After all, you’re in a world of eye-watering odors, sweaty people frowning in concentration and rarely talking to each other, mind-numbing routine, blisters and heavy machinery, while clanging metal and bad music assault your ears.

Sounds more like a steel foundry than a gym. Heck, just take a look at the word: WORK-out. No room for fun there.

Or is there? If you want to see how much fun exercise can be, go to a different kind of gym – a jungle gym. There you’ll see kids chasing each other at full speed, swinging, jumping, throwing balls, finding energy they never knew they had. And you’ll never hear them complain about going to the "gym." But they will complain about being called in during lightning storms because they want to keep playing kickball.

What’s the secret? They’re exercising and they don’t even know it. They’re having so much fun, they don’t care. It’s like hidden health.

Imagine having that kind of enthusiasm when you exercise. You can. All it takes is remembering to stay active and to have FUN.

There’s nothing wrong with workouts. You can get awesome results at the gym. You can get even better results by staying active while you’re not at the gym. And even going to the gym can seem less like work if you follow some of these fun strategies.

Embrace the Great Outdoors
Ever wonder why they're called the Departments of Parks and Recreation? It’s because they provide places for people to have outdoor fun. You can’t help but be active and play while in a place of recreation. For Pete’s sake, that’s what it’s there for.

Regular exercise is about staying active. Finding excuses to stay on your feet. The great outdoors are full of these excuses. The more you mix up your activities, the more fun you’re going to have while getting fit. These outdoor activity options have something for everyone:

  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Rollerblading
  • Mountain Biking
  • Canoeing
  • Biking
  • Skiing
  • Waterskiing
  • Rafting
  • Walking
  • Climbing
  • Jogging
  • Backpacking
  • Walking the dog

People spend thousands of dollars and days of travel to take a vacation and do some of these same activities. You could be doing them every day for free or next to nothing.

You get an extra exercise bonus when you share the fun. Bringing someone along makes all the difference. Sharing these activities with another person or group multiplies the fun and can actually boost your results.

Play Games and Sports
Growing up, most sports were large, organized affairs with schedules, rules and trophies. And tons of equipment and practice. Only the most gifted got to play and it all seemed so difficult and intimidating.

Now that you’re grown up, sports don’t have to be that way. Many sports, such as basketball, are great anaerobic activities that anyone can play. You just need a ball and an opponent.

An good place to start is by playing individual sports such as tennis, racquetball or squash. It’s easier to organize one-on-one competitions and easier to schedule. This is important when you’re trying to stay consistent. If you find one regular partner – just one – you’ve gone a long way to reaching exercise consistency and having fun while doing it.

Even though you’re a (so-called) adult now, don’t forget about children's games. Kids can come up with the most inventive, active, crazily cool games around. Why should they have all the fun? Join in! You can worry about what other people think about you playing Beanbag Tag while they’re stuck on the treadmill.

Get Out In The Yard
Sunshine, fresh air, clear breezes, the smells of nature…. awful, awful drudgery. Still, many people seem to rank outside yardwork right up there with filling out IRS tax returns. Hundreds of gas and electric yard tools of convenience were invented so you could stay inactive and indoors. People are putting a lot of effort into these products so you don’t have to use any effort at all.

It’s ironic, then, when people seem to really try pretty hard to stay inactive. Think about it. You had to put in several hours at work to earn money that bought that leaf blower, just so you wouldn’t have to go through the "torture" of using a $5 rake.

Self-powered yard work can be an incredible source of fun, relaxing exercise. It might in fact be a time saver too, if you can use it to offset some gym time.
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Member Comments

Good article. Report
It is funny what you say about sports being like when you were growing up, large, organized affairs with schedules, rules and trophies. And tons of equipment and practice. Only the most gifted got to play and it all seemed so difficult and intimidating. When I was growing up sports were the neighbor hood gang playing softball, touch football, or after dark hide and seek! And we were having fun! Report
Good one; thanks. Report
I know that people consider the Parks part of the Department of Parks and Recreation, but it is too bad that most never consider the Recreation centers, too. I have a Parks and Recreation membership and there are indoor activities that people can do during the bad weather, but I have checked and NO ONE around here it seems would ever consider going to a recreation center instead of an expensive gym. I have been to both and I can tell you there is a lot less judgment at the recreation centers than there is at those gyms. I was always looked down on at the gyms, even without being obese. Report
I completely agree with this article!
Three mornings a week, I meet some friends in our neighborhood park and we do a bunch of exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, dips, step-ups, etc.) using the playground equipment. Good exercise, great company, each encouraging the other, fun, no competition, no gym fees. It is great - go for it! Report
I love walking outside in the winter. But in the summer I have to go ti the gym because I am so afraid of snakes. I walk on the track at the gym but now I am going inside I seen whete someone killed a couple outside so I am done. Report
I disagree about the gym never being fun (I love the dance classes) but there is nothing quite like getting outside in your favorite weather (mine is right about now). Report
Super article. I could take a trip around the world with the money I've wasted on gyms, exercise equipment, and DVD's. For some people those things work - not for me. I found my favorite exercises were right outside my front door. While I used to hike 2-3 X a week, a fall flat on my back has put the kibosh on taking long hikes up mountains - I still can do short ones in the desert (when the weather is cooler); walk on the indoor track and water jog in the pool at my rec center. I've also taken up Lawn Bowling - lot of lifting 3 lb. bowls, bending, and stretching with the plus of walking about 1 mile in the 2 hours it takes to play a game. Walking the dog is out for me because I usually wind up carrying my 20 lb. Pug after a couple of blocks - lol ! Oh, and ladies, don't forget we all get a pretty good workout doing our house cleaning and gardening! Report
This article is like my anthem, my soapbox, and practically what I tell everyone about why I don't like working out. It's wasting hours of my day for NO OTHER PURPOSE than to give my body some exercise. I was exercise to be a side effect of what I am doing, not the main purpose. Main reason I hate jogging right there. I'd much rather climb a mountain or go for a swim or bike to the bank than do a workout video or lift weights for half an hour.

I think this speaks to our 1st world society and culture--our lifestyle does not lend itself to allowing our bodies to function properly. We don't have to go fetch water from the well for our families and carry it up a hill, or walk 5 miles to the local market to get food and do it every day because we don't have a refrigerator to keep the food good. Our conveniences are killing us, almost literally. Our bodies are weaker and not as adept at fighting diseases because they are too busy trying to find places to store the fat and keep from kidney failure. Report
I recently adopted a dog, and WOW, what a great way to get outdoors and get moving. Just seeing the sheer joy on the face of my puppy is enough to get me outside. We went on walks all winter, through the snow and the cold, he loved it and so did I! I never thought I'd love being outside in the winter. Now that we can take our walks and jogs out in the lovely spring weather, it's even better! And -- for those days that I just don't feel like I want to get out -- well, I just can't disappoint that little guy! Being outside is the best! Report
one word about fun at the gym ZUMBA!! I have never had a workout where I laugh, smile, enjoy and sweat all at the same time. When our 'cooldown' song comes on at the end of the hour, I'm actually sad.

My gym has also incorporated several varied workouts where we run cones outside, run around the building, jumprope, do different varied workouts to keep things new, interesting and fun. Report
Fun is a key ingredient for me for sure! I belong to a little club, so when I go, I get to chat with a lot of people that I know. My regular class notices when I'm gone and the coach will even e-mail to see if you're okay. The fun of being around people keeps me going. Oh, and outdoors? Bring it on! I can't wait for summer! Report
I like it. I prefer the fresh air... it does not feel like WORK... Report
I liked this article! This is the way I like to do fitness. Outdoors as much as possible. Report
Lots of great inspiration in this article! Some of my friends DO like the gym, but I prefer getting exercise while also getting things done around our home. We heat with wood, so there is often splitting and stacking to be done. We also have a few acres, a good-sized garden, and animals that need tending. In nice weather, I'll often get together with friends for a brisk 5 mile walk to start off the weekend. Report


About The Author

Chris Stormann
Chris Stormann
Chris has a doctorate in social and behavioral sciences.