Finding Joy in Exercise: How to Make Workouts Fun and Enjoyable

If you're one of those people who has always hated exercise, imagine a world where exercise wasn’t misery. It’s possible, even for you, that you could find something you actually enjoy! And it is okay if that's not how you feel about it right now. That doesn't mean that there is something wrong with you. Many people have a bad relationship with exercise and would benefit from a shift in their mindset.

Exercise does not have to mean a 10K run, or something else hideously long, boring, or expensive that you don't have time for, have no desire to do, or can’t afford. 

Here’s a major yet simple key: Find what you like.

Get creative. I promise there is something. What is a physical activity that you do like? Start there. Do you like to hike, bike, swim, or play sports? How about gardening, woodwork, playing backyard games with your kids? Even a simple walk has benefits.

In fact, walking is an underestimated form of exercise. It is low impact- easy on the joints. It is easy to vary locations/views and company to keep it interesting; you can walk all over the place, with all kinds of different people/animals! Also, you can do it outside, which has even further benefits like getting fresh air and vitamin D from the sun exposure at the same time.

Vitamin D is also important in treating and preventing depression, so double win! Try walking around your neighborhood if you don’t have a lot of time to drive somewhere. Try exploring your local green belt or hiking trail (it’s ok if it’s short, flat, and easy) to soak up some nature.

Change it up whenever you want, to wherever you want with whomever you want. In the case of inclement weather, it’s easy to take it inside as well; it doesn’t have to be a gym you pay for if you don’t want to. Just walk around some stores if you want, window shop with vigor! Walking is also fairly easy for most of us to stick with (a very important, perhaps most important concept), especially if we have a partner to chat with and keep us accountable.

The key here is not to try something, dislike it, and give up. Try something else! Make small changes that can improve your experience. Keep looking for what works for you.

Also, write things down. Sometimes we get tired, and don’t feel like we have the mental capacity to come up with something to do for exercise today. That is the perfect time to pull out your little notebook or phone list of what you have been doing and enjoying the most in the last few weeks to spark some ideas.

Put in the effort when you are motivated to make it easier for you to still exercise when you are not motivated. Motivation is fickle, don’t depend on it. Start creating these good habits that then just become part of your life, rather than having to make the conscious choice over and over again.

After you've been working with your self-made program for a while, you might notice you're getting bored. This is a good sign! This can mean that your body is comfortable enough with your exercise enough that it is ready to change it up.

Perhaps now it's time to add some weight or resistance training two or three times a week. Start out slow, no need to overdo it. How about renting a tandem bike and going for a ride with your honey? Or rent some pickleball equipment?  You can find outdoor courts in a lot of areas, and pickleball is great in part because you don’t have to be a master for it to be fun.

Exercise does not have to be drudgery, you can find what is enjoyable to you, and work your way gradually into increased intensity and duration. You only get one body, make the most of it; it is never too late to start. What do you have to lose? Yet you have everything to gain.

Make taking care of your health a priority and find the exercise that works for you. I look forward to seeing you on the road to better health and happiness.

Courtney Franklin, RN

Courtney has been a Registered nurse with a Bachelor's degree since 2016. She has spent most of her time in nursing in the realm of Rheumatology. She believes strongly in the power of individuals and groups to be forces for good in the lives of others, and endeavors to assist in good causes of all kinds in whatever ways she can, particularly as a freelance writer. She enjoys her sweet husband, her three dogs, and her fantasy books, which she never grew out of and probably never will.

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