By Dave Smith,
Wish those workouts didn’t seem to last forever? Research actually shows that people enjoy exercise more than they think they will. In fact, they enjoy it a whole lot more! There are about a billion mental and physical reasons to exercise regularly, so why not make the experience as enjoyable as possible? Here are 16 tactics designed to make any workout seem as quick and painless as possible.
Full Steam Ahead — Your Action Plan
1. Grab a buddy. Life is full of great solo activities, but exercise isn’t always one of them. Working out with a buddy isn’t just a fun way to squeeze in some face time; it provides extra accountability along an added push to go that extra mile .
2. Join a class. Group fitness has come a long way since we were Sweatin’ to the Oldies. There really is something for everyone, from surfing indoors to aerial arts. And as always, working alongside others helps make even tough workouts seem to go by more quickly.
3. Plan it out. There is no magic time frame required for a good workout (it’s about exercise quality, not quantity!). Waiting for the clock to tell you when a workout is done can make time seemingly stand still. Instead, plan an exercise routine before hitting the gym. Now the focus is set on the workout and not the clock.
4. Crank the tunes. Save the silence for meditation class. Workouts are meant to be energetic! Create a perfect playlist (or let an app do it for you) and then pump the tunes to get better results and have more fun doing it Effects of music during exercise on RPE, heart rate and the autonomic nervous system. Yamashita S, Iwai K, Akimoto T, Sugawara J, et al. Center for Humanity and Sciences, Ibaraki Prefectural University of Health Sciences, Ami, Japan. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 2006 Sep;46(3):425-30..
5. Get social. Exercise flies by when it doesn’t feel like exercise. There are lots of creative group activities that are fun, social and promote fitness.
6. Shorten it up. Want to really make a workout go by quickly? Cut it in half! Short and intense workouts can be super-effective for building strength and endurance Effect of high-intensity interval training on cardiovascular function, VO2max, and muscular force. Astorino TA, Allen RP, Roberson DW, et al. Department of Kinesiology, California State University, San Marcos, California. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2012 Jan;26(1):138-45.. Thirty minutes of purposeful exercise (that’s right — less chit chat!) will still produce great results without all the lag time.
7. Lose the dread. While it’s beneficial to stack the most challenging moves toward the beginning of your workout, don’t feel pressure to kick things off with your most dreaded exercise. Similarly, saving the toughest exercise for very last isn’t exactly motivation to make it to the end. Sandwich the really tough exercises with something more enjoyable and the whole workout will seem much more pleasant .
8. Track your progress. Nothing makes exercise fly by faster than seeing exciting results! Measuring exercise progress and tracking it in a journal makes gains more tangible and provides a great way to stay motivated . Workout journaling usually includes a checklist of exercises, which can make a workout seem much less daunting than one that doesn’t have an apparent end in sight.
9. Get competitive. Nobody likes to be the loser. Whether it’s competing against personal goals or with a workout partner, creating an opportunity to win can help make a workout more enjoyable and more effective . Plus, setting a personal best (or “PB”) is a great motivator to keep coming back for more!
10. Try something new. People generally like to learn new things. Mixing in challenging new exercises, like kettlebell high pulls and plyometric deadlifts, can provide and extra boost of mental stimulation, keeps the workout exciting, and challenges the body in new ways.
11. Call in the pros. Sure, it’s pricier than breaking a sweat solo, but when workouts start to drag, consider bringing in the big guns. Working out with a personal trainer has been shown to give an extra dose of motivation and intensity, leading to an all-around more effective workout than if you were to go it alone . Plus, they’ll be the ones in charge of watching the clock — not you.
12. Get outside. Exercising in the great outdoors not only relieves more stress than indoor exercise, it also offers quite a view . Take in the surrounding scenery, wildlife, and people as a source of inspiration (Remember: people-watching isn’t creepy if it’s done while running!). Just 30 minutes per day is all you need to strengthen muscles and bones, prevent disease, and improve the quality of life.
13. Grab an app. Fitness apps do a lot more than time sets and count reps. Some help plan innovative workout routines, others connect people to make exercise more social, and some even offer financial incentives to get moving! Just be sure to avoid excessive texting or taking calls — talking on a cell phone is a gym etiquette no-no.
14. Set a reward. Buying a new outfit, grabbing a post-workout smoothie, or splurging on a massage can all act as rewards that make tough workouts more bearable. The key is to choose a reward that is really desirable and a bit frivolous so that it actually seems like a treat (a big, tasty bowl of broccoli likely won’t cut it!).
While there are lots of ways to make workouts more fun, it’s important to keep in mind that the benefits of exercise are always worth a little hard work. Planning challenging workouts and choosing engaging exercises will go a long way to making fitness fun and rewarding.
This article was originally published in Greatist.