9 ways to make exercise more fun

It starts by rethinking how you view exercise—aka less dreadmill, more activities you love.
Published December 9, 2021

We don’t need to tell you that exercise has a ton of health benefits: it decreases risk of chronic diseases, improves mobility, supports weight loss, and helps you keep off the weight you lose long term. We all know this. And yet, getting motivated to move can be tough.

But you don’t have to join a gym or go for a run if that isn’t your thing. Instead, let’s think about what is your thing. Maybe it’s trying a new class or revisiting an activity you loved as a kid. The idea here is when you love the movement you’re doing, you’ll do it more.

Some ideas to get you going, coming right up:

Pick up pickleball. Tennis, badminton, and table tennis have come together to create the latest sports craze. (To get the idea, picture people playing tennis on a badminton court using an oblong paddle and a wiffle ball.) Courts are available indoors and outdoors, so it’s a good way to stay active any time of year.

Have a field day. Your backyard or a local park could be just the place for some quality family fun with a side of cardio. Grab some agility cones, balls, hula hoops, and whatever else you can snag. Make them into relay races or an obstacle course, and shuffle on through! No kids? No problem. Do the same obstacle course with your friends!

Try a round of disc golf. Have you noticed raised metal buckets surrounded by chains in your local parks? They’re for disc golf, which is a mashup of frisbee and golf. Instead of tossing the disc for someone else to catch, you’ve got to get it in the target in the least amount of throws. It’s an entertaining—and competitive—way to get moving.

Jump around on a trampoline. Relive a childhood favourite by visiting a trampoline park during adults-only sessions (yes, they exist), taking a trampoline fitness class online or in-person, or hopping on your kids’ trampoline at home. A few jumps will get your heart rate up real quick and remind you how fun it is to bounce around.

Join a sports league. Playing on a team is a good way to stay active and meet new friends—even if you’ve never been an athlete. Check your town’s recreation department or a local sports center for offerings like flag football, volleyball, bowling, or kickball.

Go rock climbing, no mountain required. No one says you have to rappel off an actual mountain to enjoy the physical benefits of rock climbing. The rise of climbing studios makes it possible to try the activity without having to invest in any gear—plus, you can do it indoors any time of year. Expect a thrilling workout, and prepare to use muscles in a totally different way. (Hello, date night idea!)

Take a hike. A 2011 review of research found that people felt more energized, less tense, and happier with what they were doing when they exercised outdoors as opposed to indoors. Instead of hopping a treadmill, pick a new spot (a quick search for hiking trails near you should show a few options) and start walking.

Skate it off. Pop on a pair of roller skates or ice skates and head to a rink near you. You’ll be so interested in gliding (and moving to the music) that you probably won’t think of it as exercise—but you can still track it!

Have a dance party. Consider this our petition to make living room dance parties a regular thing. Need more guidance? Try a video cardio dance class and learn routines like no one’s watching.