50 Ways to Make Exercise More Fun


It's startling to consider but, according to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, less than 5% of American adults get 30 minutes of exercise a day. Could it be that most of us aren't associating "exercise" with "fun?" Even if you aren't an athlete, you can still have a good time while working up a sweat. In fact, here are 50 ways you can put the fun back in fitness. (See also: Fitness for Those Who Hate Exercise)

1. Challenge Yourself

Try Tabata Training. Developed in Japan by Dr. Izumi Tabata, this is a 4-minute routine consisting of eight work/rest cycles. (See also: Ways to Exercise in Under 5 Minutes)

2. Dance

Many fitness centers offer dance classes specifically designed to sculpt and tone your body.

3. Bend With Friends

Take a yoga class with friends and share a healthy dinner together afterward.

4. Pump Up the Volume

Load your MP3 player with upbeat, fast-paced music for cardio sessions and add a slower playlist for cooling down and stretching. Shuffle your music to keep things interesting.

5. Catch a Little TV

Watch from your exercise bike instead of your easy chair. Just starting out? Take a rest during the commercials and pedal through your favorite program. (See also: Things to Do While Watching TV)

6. Get Social

According to research conducted by the University of California's Department of Preventative Medicine, people who exercise with their spouse, friends, or coworkers enjoy it more.

7. Go Outside

Break out of the gym and go for a walk, hike, bike ride, or swim.

8. Journal

Keep records of your workouts and take pictures along the way. Having proof of your progress will boost your motivation.

9. Dress for Success

You don't need to buy the most expensive athletic clothes for the gym, but wearing the wrong clothing can detract from your fun by trapping sweat, chafing skin, and causing blisters.

10. Avoid Overtraining

Your body needs recovery time between workouts in order to function efficiently. Include time for relaxing, reading, visiting friends, and other activities outside of the gym. (See also: Natural Ways to Relieve Sore Muscles)

11. Celebrate Small Victories

While you might start exercising with major change in mind, try challenging yourself to incremental goals that you can assess in a shorter period of time like losing one pound a week for a month.

12. Run (or Walk) for a Good Cause

Make your workout more enjoyable by setting a goal to train for your area's next breast cancer walk or similar event.

13. Add Some Variety

Change your routine frequently to avoid boredom and prevent the dreaded fitness plateau. (See also: Benefits of Changing Your Routine)

14. Get Pavlovian

Create a reward system for motivation, and you'll get into the fitness groove more quickly. Try a healthy treat like a post-workout smoothie.

15. Ease Into It

Start your workout gradually by warming up with a little cardio. This will signal your brain to secrete the endorphins that produce a natural "high."

16. Skip Rope

It's not just for kids. Did you know that jumping rope will burn the same amount of calories as running?

17. Bounce

Not ready to skip rope? Get hopping on a personal trampoline to build up your stamina and balance.

18. Jump on a Pogo Stick

If jumping is hard on your joints, try jumping on a pogo stick. It reduces stress and provides many of same benefits as jumping exercises.

19. Try "Exergaming"

Do you or your kids enjoy gaming? Try out some video exercise games.

20. Don't Save the Worst for Last

Work your hardest exercises in the middle of your routine as a way to mark the "top of the hill." You'll be more motivated to finish knowing that the rest of your routine is all downhill. (See also: 9 Ways to Stay Motivated)

21. Swing Some Kettlebells

With their origins Russia, these cannonballs-on-a-handle are all the rage. Try this kettlebell workout for beginners!

22. Stand-Up Paddleboard

This combination of kayaking and surfing is a challenging core workout.

23. Get Professional Help

Consider working out with a pro who can build a fun routine to suit your needs.

24. Use Fitness Apps

Integrate tech and fitness with one or more of these popular fitness apps. (See also: Top 5 Strength Training Apps)

25. Learn New Things

Get up to speed on the treadmill with your favorite TED Talks or podcasts. You can load learning on your MP3 player just as easily as music.

26. Push Yourself (Gently)

Challenge yourself to do just one more rep, minute, or mile the next time you feel like giving up on a routine. You'll feel a sense of accomplishment because you pushed yourself just a little further.

27. Get Mental

Psyche yourself up by creating an empowering mantra like "I can do this." Repeat this phrase in your mind as you exercise — especially when the going gets rough.

28. Drop and Roll

Roll your way to better to a tighter tummy and great legs. Try these eight exercises.

29. Stand on Your Head

Get a new perspective while gaining balance and control. Start out by balancing against a wall and gradually move towards inverted independence!

30. Eat Right

Feeding your body the right fuel will give you more energy for better workouts. One important tip: eat more protein.

31. Suspend Yourself

You can get a total body workout with this novel training technique.

32. Get Inspired

Motivate yourself with these fitness success stories.

33. Use Your Body Weight

You'll never need gym equipment again with these exercises you can do anywhere. (See also: 20 Body Weight Exercises)

34. Hula Hoop It

Revisit your childhood and use a hula hoop for serious abdominal-toning fun. (See also: Fitness Gifts for $15 or Less)

35. Get Some Doggone Company

Enjoy exercise by taking your dog for a walk, playing fetch, and meeting new people at the local dog park.

36. Swing

Get on a swing for dual action workout. When you push off, you're engaging your leg muscles; when you pull back, you're working your midsection.

37. Prancercise

You've seen the viral video, now show off your most flamboyant moves as you groove your way to better fitness.

38. Do a Domestic Sprint

Feel the burn by challenging yourself to a five minute housework blitz. Better yet, get your kids to join you and multiply the effort! (See also: How to Declutter Your Home in 10 Minutes)

39. Pedal While Sitting

Maybe you're just starting out or can't stand for long periods; either way, try using a foot peddler while sitting.

40. Sit and Be Fit

Another option for exercise while sitting is the Sit and Be Fit chair exercise program.

41. Flex

Simply flexing your muscles counts as exercise. Play a game by flexing your abs, butt, or arms each time you get into your car or stop at a red light.

42. Multitask

Try doing squats while brushing your teeth. They won't interfere with your oral hygiene, and they're great for your legs.

43. Take the Stairs

Make a game out of taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Accumulate 10 points for each flight and give yourself a little reward when your score hits 100.

44. Jump Up

Jumping jacks are an overall fun movement that burn lots of calories.

45. Arm Wrestle

Work out those biceps (not your back) and have a friendly contest with friends.

46. Have a Pillow fight

Get playful with your kids or partner and have a lively pillow fight — you'll definitely get your heart rate up and have a few laughs along the way.

47. Play Tag or Frisbee

Playing these classic outdoor games is good fun and great exercise.

48. Laugh

Lighten up and get some health benefits at the same time. Here are over 100 ways to laugh your way into fitness.

49. Practice Martial Arts

From mild (tai-chi) to wild (karate) you're sure to find something you'll enjoy. Check for classes in your area.

50. Practice Gratitude

Be thankful that you can exercise. Research shows that being grateful helps boost your overall mood and that alone should make fitness more fun!

Now that you have 50 different ideas, which ones will you choose to make your workout seem less like work?

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