How to find the activity that moves you

Tips to choose movement you enjoy
Published May 4, 2021

We all know activity is important – the physical and mental health benefits are many. But let’s be real for a minute – how many of us enjoy all types of exercise? And how many of us stick with an activity routine if we don’t enjoy it?

The key to staying active regularly is to find an activity that you enjoy, because if you enjoy it, you’re more likely to do it and keep doing it.

For some tips on how to find the activity that moves you, we turned to James P. Owen, author of Just Move! A New Approach to Fitness After 50 and producer of the documentary film The Art of Aging Well.

Ask your friends what activities they enjoy.

“Perhaps you can observe a class or tag along on their next outing,” Owen says. That way you can ease yourself into something that might be unfamiliar, and having a buddy along the way makes it much more fun.

Think back to something you enjoyed in your youth.

“If you liked to dance, Zumba may be perfect for you, or you could try dance-inspired bar exercises,” says Owen. “Were you always drawn to the water? Maybe it’s time to get back into the pool. And if you were the kid who was always climbing trees, a rock-climbing gym may be just your ticket.”

Check out your community.

“See what your local community centre, rec department or senior centre has to offer. A counselor can help give you ideas – and don’t be afraid to ask for a tryout session.”

Open up your thinking.

“New activities have come onto the scene in recent years,” says Owen. “For example, Tai Chi has become very popular as a gentle, meditative form of movement. Pickleball, a racquet sport somewhere between badminton and tennis, is one of the fastest-growing recreations in the [United States].”

He suggests considering more offbeat activities like fencing and archery – and reminds us all to not let gender stereotypes get in our way.

Take a cue from your environment.

“Are there bicycling or hiking trails in the vicinity? If you live near water, there may be opportunities to kayak or canoe,” says Owen. “Community parks may have exercise stations or full-fledged parkours. Look for local hiking or bicycling clubs; they’re a great way to meet people while being active.”

Don’t be afraid of being a novice.

It’s okay to be a beginner. “If you’ve always wished you could play tennis or golf, now is the time to try,” says Owen. He suggests approaching a new activity with a “beginner’s mind” and enlisting a more experienced player or coach to help you get started. “Every player had to start somewhere.”

Look online for classes and inspiration.

“The internet is a great way to sample and learn about activities that might interest you,” Owen suggests.

We also suggest flipping through workout videos on your WW app – there are tons of options from FitOn and Aaptiv that you can try out to see what you like.

And another trick you can try is something called temptation bundling (for a deeper dive, you can read our guide on it here.) Essentially, it’s the idea of pairing something you feel is not as enjoyable with something that you want to do. It’s a way of reducing the friction of the less enjoyable activity and rewarding yourself for doing the thing you don’t love doing, while you’re actually doing it. Examples include working out while watching TV or saving a favourite podcast or playlist for your morning walk. This gives you something else to look forward to and can make the activity feel less daunting, especially on days you’re feeling unmotivated.