Discipline aside, the best way to keep your fitness commitment is to make fitness more fun. After all, if exercise too often feels like a bore or a chore you’re probably going to have a harder time sticking with it. The bottom line – when exercise is more fun you’re more likely to want to get some in regularly. Here are three tips to help you keep interest high so your number of skip days will be low.
Crank up the beats
Download a playlist of your favorite high-energy tunes and head for the gym or the park. Research shows that music reduces the rate of perceived exertion, which means it will be easier for you to work harder. Look for songs with around 110 to 120 beats per minute, depending on the intensity of your workout. Go a little lower for stretching or warming up, say 90 to 100 beats per minute. As you get into the music and work to keep up with the tempo you’ll find that time flies because you are actually having fun.
Enlist a buddy and try to nail a personal best
There are two benefits here. Exercise is just more fun with friends. When you add the challenge of trying to shave a few seconds off your mile or bike more distance than ever before, interest stays high. This is true for at least two reasons. The first is friendly competition. Studies show that we work harder and more consistently when we do it with a friend. We burn more calories, too. The second is motivation to reach a specific goal. Your attitude and approach will be different when you are running to reach a personal best versus simply running. Competition plus the excitement of reaching your goal equals a little thrill that will keep you coming back.
Go for novelty
Novelty doesn’t only work for setting new goals. It is also a factor in choosing new activities. The human brain thrives on variety and new interests. In fact, it even releases the neurotransmitter dopamine in response to novelty. Neuroscientist Russell Poldrak says dopamine can be thought of as the “gimme more neurotransmitter” – it drives you to come back for more. So go ahead and switch up your fitness routine. Swim one day and try barre or ballroom dancing the next. The key is to get that dopamine flowing. As it flows the brain’s reward centers light up and you’re in fun city. It’s a pretty safe bet you’ll want to return again and again.
A good way to honor your commitment to get or stay fit is make exercise more fun. Let’s face it, when you choose activities you actually enjoy, you’re more likely to engage in them regularly. Forget no pain, no gain. Give yourself a leg up on fitness goals by making each workout feel more like fun.