The Unworkout: 7 Ways to Get Fit Having Fun
Enjoy exercise that doesn't feel like exercise
Has working out become too much like work? Or does just thinking
about working out make you want to go lie down? You know you need to move to
burn calories and get fit, but mustering the motivation is another matter. And
if you're not feeling motivated to work out, chances are it's because you're
not having any fun.
The No. 1 reason people say they don't get regular physical activity is lack
of time, says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist for the American
Council on Exercise (ACE) in San Diego. Yet, he adds, "we'll find time to
do what's enjoyable."
The good news is that you can get fit by playing, says Charles Swencionis,
PhD, co-author of The Lazy Person's Guide to Fitness: I Get All the Exercise
I Need Walking Around the Office. "Forget about 'This kind of exercise
does that', and 'That kind of exercise does this,''' he says.
To remind yourself of the fun in physical activity, just watch your pets --
or your children.
"I have a parrot who's in terrific shape," Swencionis says.
"He's like an Olympic athlete compared to me. All animals are naturally
active. Kids are, too, unless they're prevented by their parents or
To help you put the fun back into your fitness routine, fitness experts who
spoke to WebMD had these seven suggestions:
1. Make play your workout. Remember begging your mother to let you
stay outside five more minutes? Whatever you were doing -- playing catch,
jumping rope, or riding your bike -- it was too much fun to quit. The key to
fitting more activity into your life is rediscovering that joy of movement.
"If you have children, play backyard games like tag, hopscotch, and
capture the flag," says Bryant. But you don't need kids to play. Shoot
hoops. Go swimming. Play tennis, volleyball, badminton, croquet, or golf.
2. Put on your dancing shoes. Not the sporty type? 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. You don't even need a
partner; try belly dancing, hula, clogging or tap dancing.
One of the latest (and most strenuous) physical fitness crazes is Capoeira,
a blend of dancing and martial arts. "It was developed by slaves in Brazil
who weren't allowed to have martial arts or weapons," says Swencionis.
"So they developed a martial art that came from a part of Africa that's now
Angola. It looks like dancing, and it's all done to music. They turn on their
backs and heads using moves that could either be dancing or
3. Go on a treasure hunt. Take the whole family (or a group of
friends) on a geocaching adventure. Geocaching is a hot new adventure that
involves using a handheld global positioning system (GPS) to find a hidden
cache of trinkets and a logbook. It's not as easy as it sounds, and cachers add
new twists all the time. For example, an item that's labeled
"hitchhiker" is supposed to be carried from one cache to another. (Mr.
Potato Head is a well-known hitchhiker.)
Getting to a cache is half the fun. It can be as leisurely as a walk in the
park, or can require expertise such as rock-climbing ability. All you need to
get started is a GPS device (about $100). Information, including geocaching
etiquette and cache locations in and around your ZIP code, is posted on
geocaching web sites.