Fitness

Exercise fun: Releasing your inner child

Author: Canadian Living

Fitness

Exercise fun: Releasing your inner child

You're getting ready to burn some major calories at the gym. Armed with an iPod full of up-tempo songs, a magazine and a bottle of water, you hop on the treadmill and start it up. Fifteen minutes later, you're already bored. Walking or running in one spot gets old fast, even with all the musical and literary distractions you can handle.

Remember when exercise used to be fun? Think back, way back, before pilates or spinning, before weight lifting and cardio. Back to when you threw or kicked balls, instead of balancing on them to do your abdominal routine. When you were a kid, getting exercise was just a side-effect of having fun. For most of us, exercise is now a chore, a duty, something to fit into our busy schedules.

There's no question that exercise is necessary, but the treadmill isn't. Think outside the box when it comes to getting your heart pumping, and you might be surprised by the way you look forward to getting your daily dose.

Victoria Bruce, a Halifax Weight Watchers Leader, says a common mistake made by many new exercisers is that they tend to force themselves into a huge change -- with a routine that they don't enjoy. "It's the 'what's in it for me?' factor," Bruce says. "If you have fun doing your exercise, you'll do it again." Starting a new exercise regimen, even if you have the best intentions, doesn't mean much if you dread doing it. Soon, you'll be finding excuses not to.

You can add fun to your workout without leaving the gym, Bruce says. Just check out the aerobics classes available at your gym. "There are so many different classes right now, there is bound to be something to appeal to you," she says. With classes such as cardio striptease, t'ai chi and belly dancing on offer, you don't just have to stick to step classes anymore.

Outside the gym, there are so many easy ways to workout without even realizing you're breaking a sweat. Go way back again, and think about the ways you used to spend your downtime. Think bowling, ice-skating, and mini-golf -- all great fun and excellent ways to burn calories. Bruce also suggests grabbing a friend or two and making it a play-date. Everything is more fun with a buddy, and by inviting someone along it becomes an event rather than a chore.

And stop thinking of it as exercise. Bruce says Weight Watchers leaders are trained to talk about activity, not exercise, because it's less daunting. "Exercise brings to mind the big burly guy lifting the huge weights, and that doesn't sound like much fun," she says. Activity, on the other hand, sounds like it could even be a good time.

When you're scheduling your workouts into your weekly planner, think about having fun. Hula-hoop or jump rope or do jumping jacks until you are breathless. And take it outside, where the fresh air will breathe new life into your workout. In the winter, go tobogganing or snowshoeing. In the summer, head to the beach and jump around in the waves or play a little beach volleyball.

In short, the next time you can't bear another second of the same tired workout routine, try thinking like a kid again.

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Exercise fun: Releasing your inner child

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