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How To Keep Exercise From Getting Boring

Zumba or Jazzdance - young people dancing in a studio or gym doing sports or practicing a dance number

People cite lots of reasons for not exercising, many of which are often just excuses. For example: “A gym membership is too expensive.” (You don’t really need a gym membership.) Perhaps one of the most common problems that people have with exercise is that they find it boring! 

In some ways, this is a reasonable complaint. Not everyone can focus exclusively on physical exercise and turn off their mental treadmills. But exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Here are some ways you can jazz it up—jazz hands optional.

 Make Exercise Interesting

  • Give yourself (immediate) purpose: Treadmills can feel like hamster wheels if you’re walking or running toward some abstract goal of health or weight loss that won’t be realized for weeks, months or even years. Instead of driving, walk or jog to the store to get that one item you forgot on your shopping trip, or bike to a friend’s house to drop off something you borrowed.
  • Let (fill in the blank) entertain you: Whether it’s reading, watching a show or listening to music or an audio book, some sort of entertainment may satisfy your mental cravings while you use a cardio machine. Just don’t forget to keep your body moving!
  • Set a short-term goal and help others: Look for walks or races (walks are best if you are just starting a routine), in your area to support a charitable cause that is important to you. Invite your friends to join you or sponsor you, and make some amount of a financial commitment. To prepare, gradually increase your distance daily until you reach the event’s distance. It will be easier to reach your goal when you know it will benefit more people than just yourself.
  • Shop around: Stationary bikes, elliptical machines and jogging around your block aren’t the only options. Try different classes (and even different instructors for the same type of class), at your gym or in your community like Zumba, martial arts, Pilates, yoga, self-defense classes, kickboxing, hip hop dance, ballroom dance or even belly dancing! Many gyms and studios offer free trials of their classes, so you may be able to get in several free workouts before having to pay for them; and hopefully discovering something you really enjoy. 
  • Explore: Research hikes in your area, even if it takes some driving time to get to the area. Explore the natural landscape and parks near you; including also bike paths, places to swim (pools, lakes, and beaches) and other outdoor activities.
  • Enlist friends: Whether you walk with Mark on Monday, Theresa on Wednesday and Eric on Friday; or you get a group of friends together to play volleyball or try a workout DVD at home, having friends involved can keep everyone accountable for actually exercising, while providing an opportunity to catch up. Just be careful not to let this social occasion end with a counterproductive social activity, like going out to eat together.
  • Reward yourself: Just not with food—come up with a “reward plan” that can help motivate you to work out, especially the closer you come to the reward. 

By trying some of the tips above, you can make exercise more interesting, and increase the chances that you will actually make this important investment in your health!

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