Update: Last week I began discussing ways to make exercise more enjoyable, from an article in the April 1997 issue of Consumer Reports' On Health magazine. The first suggestion mentioned was to choose activities that let you play, such as modified basketball, soccer or less strenuous sports such as golf, softball or doubles tennis. Another idea was to find an interest such as bird watching, walking to historical sites or hiking in the woods.
The next idea was to create a diversion. Even with ordinary types of exercise, it is a good idea to do something while you exercise to divert your mind from the activity to help avoid boredom. For instance, exercising with a friend who has about the same fitness level is a good way to enliven an otherwise dull workout, because you can talk together and share ideas. You can also listen to the radio, play tapes and even watch television or read if you are exercising on a stationary exercise machine indoors. I usually wear a headset and listen to the radio when I jog to help the time pass easily.Some people think of an absorbing idea or task to take their minds off the exercise itself. For instance, you could plan your next vacation, solve some problem that you face, memorize scripture or a poem, work on a presentation or talk, or learn a language. You can also play mental games, such as recalling names of classmates, teachers or friends you had as a kid, or see how many foreign countries or Beatles songs you can name.
You could even fantasize; imagine yourself running down a tropical beach, rushing to deliver life-saving medical supplies or slipping unnoticed through a foreign city on a dangerous spy mission. Taking a class in aerobic dance, tai chi or yoga could add spice to your workouts.
Perhaps the best way to keep exercise interesting and fun is to vary your routine. Try exercising at a different time of the day or vary the length or pace of your sessions. I sometimes use interval training to make my jog more interesting. I'll run fairly fast for 50 to 100 yards (or until I am breathless), then slow down and walk to recover. On another day, I might jog at a slow pace and extend the distance somewhat.
Keep exploring new streets, trails, neighborhoods and parks. Knowing lots of different routes lets you pick the one that best suits your mood and schedule on a given day. Another idea is to walk to or from any destination - especially when cycling, because of the distance you can cover easily. This "cross-training" technique can be used for any combination of activities and may be the best of all techniques to help make exercise fun.
Well, there you have it. Make exercise fun and know that you are also training and protecting your body at the same time.