June 17, 2024

Focus on FUN, Not Fitness! By Robert Hopper, PhD

A New Way to Build Your Exercise Program—Focus on Fun, Not Fitness!

If you’ve had difficulty sticking with an exercise program, consider a new approach. Instead of attempting traditional fitness activities like treadmill and elliptical machine workouts, look to enjoyable recreation such tennis, golf, dancing, swimming, hiking, volleyball, softball, bowling, even gardening. The health benefits of these physical activities will come almost effortlessly—as a natural byproduct of having fun!

Focus on fun. To start your new program, all you need to do is make one simple shift in how you think of exercise. Rather than “no pain, no gain,” think “pleasure is the measure.” The key to long-term exercise success is choosing physical activities—I call them “lifetime sports”— that are fun to do. Why? It’s easier to stick with something if you truly enjoy it. You can choose from more than 100 leisure and recreational activities. Let your imagine run free. Have you always wanted to dance the tango, play tennis, or take up bowling? Now’s the time! The next steps—also among what I call “the best practices for exercise success”—are just as easy.

Get a Coach. The quickest, easiest, and surest way to master new skills in your chosen sport is to take lessons from a coach, instructor, teacher, or class leader—a professional dedicated to helping people like you succeed. Start with a series of beginning lessons—group or private—and see how you like the activity. If you’re having fun at the end of the series and want to continue, enroll in intermediate classes.

Join a Team. Your team is a group of people who share an interest and enthusiasm in your lifetime sports and participate in it together. This could be a class, a club, an organization, or a formal team—that is, a fun group of like-minded individuals as keen to ski, hike, tap dance, golf, kayak, or play badminton as you are! Join a group and you’ll have a several potential partners for participating in your chosen sport. Your team leader—your coach—can make that participation easier by reserving facilities, choosing exercise times that are convenient, and perhaps providing any necessary equipment.

Once you reach the intermediate skill level, you’ll likely have a newfound passion for your lifetime sport. Why? Because you’ll have a coach and a team in place to support your efforts, you’ll be participating in your lifetime sport with confidence, and you’ll still be having fun!

Practice these first basic steps on a regular basis and you’ll be on your way to pleasurable and virtually fail-safe exercise program to stick with for a lifetime.

Healthcare expert Robert Hopper, PhD, a former NCAA swimming champion and swimming coach, is the author of Stick with Exercise for a Lifetime: How to Enjoy Every Minute of It! An easy-to-follow guide, the book explains in insightful detail a set of best practices for exercise success—how to enjoy physical activity as a lifelong habit based on having fun. For more information, go to www.stickwithexercise.com. Also connect via Facebook: Facebook.com/stickwithexercise or Twitter: @RobertHopperPhD