Here’s a secret…exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it can actually be kind of fun. That matters because when you love, or at least like, what you’re doing, you’re likely to do it more often.

Change your mind
If you’re really ready to get to the new and improved you, you’re going to have to get rid of old ideas about exercise. Think waaaaay beyond gym class. Exercise can be anything that gets your heart rate up. It doesn’t have to be endless jumping jacks unless, of course, you’re into that. Think about the things you used to do voluntarily when you wanted to have some fun. Like: ride your bike, skate, dance, throw the football, hit the hiking trails or even jump rope. No one had to twist your arm. This was physical activity on a voluntary basis. Find the kind of fitness you can love so you’ll look forward to exercise.

You’ll do it for the dopamine
Human beings crave novelty. When we get it, dopamine, a feel-good chemical released in the brain. Why not get your rush on while you sweat? Switch up your workout gear, sign up for a new class or try out a new trail. The novelty of anything new while you exercise will give you both physical as well as emotional payoffs and, you guessed it…you’ll want to repeat it to keep getting those rewards.

Go for carrots and sticks
Many of us think of adopting healthy lifestyle changes as sticks. It feels like we are being forced to make a lot of changes we don’t like; like getting adequate rest, making healthy food choices, and choosing to exercise regularly. We tend to think of these things in terms of what we will lose or have to give up (punishment). When you choose an exercise routine you love, it feels more like a carrot (reward). You give yourself an opportunity to do something fun in the quest to get what you want, overall better health.

Regular physical activity is important for good health. Looking for a way to reduce the risk of chronic illness, maintain healthy weight, manage stress and extend functional fitness as you age? Exercise is the way to do all that and more. But that is only if you exercise regularly. Too often we start off strong only to break our fitness commitment and head back to the couch. Find an activity you crave so the couch will be less tempting. When you love your workout you are more likely to actually workout.