From the Heart and Stroke Foundation

By Matthew Mayer, BSc.

Research shows that people who choose physical activities that they really enjoy tend to stay committed on a regular basis. Many people I know often slog through workouts because they think they should. If you find running on a treadmill boring, why do it?

So how can you make your workouts more fun and interesting? How can you find a new activity that you can fall in love with? Here are some ideas.

Add music. I personally have a difficult time getting motivated to head out solo for a run or bike ride. I suggest you set up a playlist full of music, or videos, and use it during your workout. Music provides intervals by rotating high tempo pacing during a chorus and slower pacing during verses.

Find classes, groups, friends. Having a scheduled event to attend will do two things: introduce a potential fun factor by adding someone or something new to your options of activities, and make you more accountable. I find it very difficult to let a friend down because I'm not motivated.

Track your progress and goals. I like to push myself by setting up goals or tracking progression. There is a variety of workout devices you can use: pedometers, heart-rate monitors and physical activity diaries. Be sure to add a fun reward to your tracking such as buying a new pair of running shoes when you reach 500 kilometres, or a new yoga outfit after six months of classes.

Go local. Recreation leagues pop up in every community during the spring and summer. Contact your local parks and recreation centres for new and exciting options. Here are a few activities that may provide you with some fun and engaging challenges:

  • Frisbee golf. A game easily created with some hula-hoops and a Frisbee. Give it a time component to up the intensity and feel the burn.
  • Ultimate frisbee. This game has taken off in parks across the country. Think a high-paced game that involves plenty of coordination and fast thinking. The best part is that you only need some friends, a field, a Frisbee and a good attitude.
  • Inner tube water polo. Without a doubt, this is one of the most challenging and fun sports I have ever played. Look to your community pools for an inner tube water polo league.

There are always ways to increase the intensity of your current activities. For example, when I play golf, I walk the course and carry my bag. When forced to take a cart, I opt to walk to every other shot or hole.

What you need to remember is that what works for someone may not work for you. Be open and ready to try anything and I promise that you will be rewarded. Don't be overly concerned about being a novice. Remember even the most experienced player had to start somewhere. You may wish to seek out an experienced athlete because, more often than not, he or she will be willing to help you along in your new journey.

Before starting any new activity program, be sure to talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional.

Matthew Mayer is an exercise physiologist.

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Posted: March 2011

Heart and Stroke Foundation


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