The most important aspect of both physical fitness and health is consistency. Being physically fit and healthy requires an individual to continually being pursuing it. There is no training program or diet that you can do for only a short period of time and never have to do anything else again while maintaining the results you received from the training.
Given that physical fitness and health are areas of life which have to be consistently prioritized or you will start to head in the wrong direction, what is the best way to keep putting in the work?
1. Make it FUN!
Words from a wise (or not so wise) sponge who lived in a pineapple under the sea:
“F is for friends who do stuff together
U is for you and me
N is for anywhere and anytime at all
Down here in the deep blue sea”
Now this doesn’t just apply to SpongeBob. It should apply to your health and fitness. Getting your friends to join and making it a general part of your lifestyle will make it way more enjoyable. Doing activities with friends such as hiking, kayaking, golfing, etc. are all way to help improve your health and fitness and can be more enjoyable that traditional exercise.
Another method to making it FUN, is to do activities which you really enjoy. You may hate running but love playing basketball. Basketball would be a much more enjoyable form of cardio for this you in this case. Or if you really enjoy doing yard work, use a push mower instead of a riding mower to still take care of it and get more activity.
This technique is one which works well for many people. It can be done solo or with friends. If you are on the more competitive side, competing against your friends will encourage you to do more than you normally would. “Gamification is the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation.”
Some ways of doing it would be seeing how many days in a row you can go without cheating on your diet. Or seeing who burned more calories or had a higher average heart rate during a workout. MyZone uses a heart rate monitor and gives points during a workout based on how hard you were working. This could be another way of competing with your friends such as seeing who can get the most points in a week or month.
Try and be creative with how to turn your health and fitness into a game. What are some more ways you can think of to gamify the activities?
Some activities will always be enjoyable while most activities start to get boring over time. Unless you are training for a specific event where you must follow a tailored program, it is usually to mix up the workouts occasionally. You will not be able to put in the same amount of effort if you are getting bored with a workout style.
There is a note of caution for mixing up workouts too frequently. If you are constantly changing it up, your body will not have the time to make adaptations to the training style so results could be slowed. Sticking with a technique for 3 months before mixing it up a bit can be a good balance of adaptation and variety.
But if you have to do something new each time or you won’t be interested, by all means try something different. Most activities will be better than doing nothing. One way to do this is to do a standard routine but try one new exercise or equipment for each workout. This can strike a balance of formulaic and variety.
Life can be short and maintaining your health and fitness should be fun (but not always easy). By making it FUN, doing it together with friends, gamifying it, and mixing it up your health and fitness will not only improve but also be more enjoyable.