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Why exercise should be fun. Friday August 23, 2013

Lets be honest. For most people running for hours on a treadmill does not constitute fun nor do an awful lot of other gym activities. Unfortunately, for most people exercise becomes a means to an end and more often than not, it is something endured rather than enjoyed.

Although many people feel better after bouts of exercise it is often far more effective to leave the gym behind and do something fun instead.

When you were a child, exercise was fun and something looked forward to. You made friends; you pushed the boundaries, practiced your teamwork, and developed an understanding of loyalty and sharing. It was something you wanted to do rather than 'had to' do (leaving PE lessons in the rain aside).

As we grow up it is often easy to leave all of that behind. Thinking that now we are adults it is time to stop playing the games and leave the fun to the children. I cannot be the only one that thinks this is a shame.

The UK is actually full of fantastic opportunities to bring out your inner child. You can join clubs and try new sports no matter how wacky they are (I have become a rather accomplished extreme ironer in recent years). More often than not these activities are cheaper, more fun and better value than a gym membership.

Making exercise fun means you are more likely to stick with it because you are enjoying yourself. You are more likely to push yourself further and funnily enough, the chance of injury decreases hugely. Do not think you have to be fit or young to take part in a sport; even a local rambling society can be fantastic way of having fun and meeting people.

I am not saying gyms are bad, but if you do not like the gym do not berate yourself - exercise can and should be enjoyed!

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Sally Fri, Aug 23rd 2013 @ 8:16am

I love swimming & tennis - but recently, to tone up & improve fitness, I joined a gym & started working out with my 15 year old daughter. With advice from firmness instructors, who taught us a variety of exercises, the gym became fun & I pushed myself physically more than I have in years. My fitness has improved dramatically. I can't believe I would say this but I love the gym, I don't always feel like going but once I'm there I enjoy the challenge & I feel really alive afterwards. I agree that exercise should be fun but, like the rest of life sometimes it is the really tough, challenging parts that change is the most & help us see what we are really made of.

nairobiny Fri, Aug 23rd 2013 @ 9:04am

If you're looking to get into running, <a href="" rel="nofollow">parkrun</a> is the way to go. Free timed 5k runs every Saturday morning. The sense of achievement you get from having completed a 5k by 10:00 is incredible, and everyone is so supportive, no matter how fast or slow your pace is!

Faye Fri, Aug 23rd 2013 @ 9:18am

Thanks for the post - it's incisive and well-written (and I can testify to it's truth, having just joined a squash club). However, in CBT we learn that 'should' is a word which engenders guilt and that judgements about how things 'should' and 'shouldn't' be can be problematic. Perhaps 'Why exercise can be fun' might have been a gentler title? It really was a jolly good post and a very valid point though!

Becky Talboot Fri, Aug 23rd 2013 @ 9:37am

I do agree but beware dont take it too far. I started playing netball again at age 40 ( yes, midlife crisis). Then i took up tennis, squash and gymnastics too. Then I tore all the ligaments in my ankle trying to do a somersault! Now i can only walk and swim but I am taking up yoga....

Anonymous Fri, Aug 23rd 2013 @ 12:47pm

Even something as simple as walking a couple of extra miles per day can make a difference. I've found one way of getting me walking more is the game (it's sort of like geocaching but easier). I use the game to get me to check out new places and often find nice places for a walk that I wonder "why have I never realised this place was here before!"
If you've got a smartphone (the app supports iphone, Android and Windows Phone) and remember "treasure hunts" or "paperchase" as a kid, check it out. It's been a lifesaver for me!

Anonymous Fri, Aug 23rd 2013 @ 3:46pm

Extreme Ironing. Where do I sign up?

Jake Sat, Aug 24th 2013 @ 4:03pm

Hi Faye.
Thank you for the comment. I haven’t had a lot of training in CBT so the ‘should vs. can’ idea you raise for the title, whilst probably entirely correct was not something that had crossed my mind. If I changed it to ‘can’, I would have probably had to change it to ‘How exercise can be fun’. This title would have had a different focus for the blog. Nevertheless, I will keep this in mind for future titles. Glad you enjoyed it.

Jake Sat, Aug 24th 2013 @ 4:08pm

That’s a good point Becky and I'm glad you've raised it, no matter what you’re doing you've got to take it at a slow pace to begin with. I do feel however, that somersaults are not necessarily a prerequisite for an activity to be fun so people should not be put off by a possibility of injury when taking things at a moderate pace. Sorry to hear about your ankle. Hope it gets better soon.

Jake Sat, Aug 24th 2013 @ 4:15pm

That’s the best thing about extreme ironing. Grab an iron and an ironing board…then go find a funky place to iron…at the top of a mountain, standing on your head, on a bus, on a bus on your head. There needs to be a certain amount of flagrant disregard for health and safety (and a fair amount of pretending when there is a lack of power sources) but that where it gets fun! I would not recommend it for beginners and everything is done at your own risk. A good alternative is take your favourite and least favourite things and mix them together…then do it in a strange place…
May your shirts long be without creases!

Pure Noni Juice Mon, Sep 22nd 2014 @ 9:38am

I can't tell you how much happy I'm after reading what you have written about having fun even in adulthood. Lots of people think it is time to put aside all those fun activities and become serious. Even at the gym, they think they should rather not enjoy it, but take it as an experience of pain. Believe me, if you think doing exercise is a great fun, you will see the results quicker.

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