Fitness: 5 Things that Make Exercise Enjoyable

By Mary Jaksch

When I started the Fitness Challenge, I had no idea what the response might be.  I was amazed when over 80 people joined the Challenge! It seems that there is a quiet revolution in progress:

More and more people want to live a meaningful and wholesome life.

There are five lessons I’ve learned through participating in  the Challenge this week:

Lesson #1: Shared aspirations keep us on track

When people started to join the Challenge, I followed Leo Babauta’s advice and started a forum. The forum is a place where participants  can share their journey and get support. It’s inspiring! Teaming up with others makes getting fit and staying healthy a lot easier.

Lesson #2: Make it fun

We’re much more likely to sustain healthy fitness habits if we make exercise a fun thing to do. Here’s what Leo Babauta wrote in the forum:

My suggestion is not to look for exercise, but for a fun way to get moving. So it might be going for hikes in nature, or taking long walks with a good friend, or paddling a boat, or playing a sport that’s fun to you, or sprinting around with kids, or doing yoga if you enjoy that … it really doesn’t matter, as long as you’re moving and having fun. If you don’t know what that might be, try as many different things as you can!

Lesson #3 Every action counts

Sometimes it’s difficult to find time for exercise – and that can be frustrating. It’s easy to forget that there is also ‘functional exercise’:  ordinary everyday actions that boost fitness.

Kika, a Challenge participant writes:

So far today I’ve walked through Zurich twice. Not really a fitness thing, I just chose to walk to all my chores instead of hopping on the tram. Now I know it takes 45 brisk minutes from the dentist to school, 35 brisk minutes from school to optician, another 35 brisk minutes from optician to my best friend’s house and then another 15 back to main station.

The early morning walk reminded me how much I love my city of Zurich and I could take in all its beauty with so much more intensity and detail!

Lesson #4 Exercise is doesn’t have to cost a cent

If we are creative, we can find many different ways to exercise that don’t cost a bean. You don’t need an expensive membership in the gym in order to get fit. Here is how Challenge participant Julie finds creative opportunities for exercise:

A week into the challenge and I realize I am more determined now to improve my fitness level than I was at the beginning. I am enjoying finding creative solutions to what could become problems if I let them, which in turn would leave me feeling discouraged.

Work/Life/Exercise balance? If I work out at work then I need to stretch at home. If I have a sedentary day then I need to do something aerobic at home. I can’t afford gym classes……Jog to the local gym and back again. This is free and has the added benefit to the environment! All those cars parked up so that people can run on treadmills? How to do my load bearing exercises? I have 1kg ankleweights for diving. Perfect…..for now. Or I could use 1kg bags of sugar. Added bonus there of feeling smug because I’m lifting the sugar instead of eating it!

My goal now is to keep finding solutions when excuses pop up.

Watch this short video clip “Why Exercise Rocks” below, or click here to watch it.

Lesson #5 Listen to your body

It’s important to listen to what our body tells us. For example, recovery is crucial, so we need to have at least one rest day within a week of daily exercise. The body tells us exactly when it needs to recover. It can be a delicate balance between listening to what the body wants, whilst still getting stronger and fitter. Each one of us has a particular strategy in response to this balance. I tend to push myself beyond what may be good for my body, others may want to remain in their comfort zone.

When we understand our habitual strategies, we can change or adapt them.

Listening to the body is crucial when it comes to working with pain or chronic illness. I was recently asked the following question: “Why do you think some people who have ongoing health problems are happy, and some healthy people are unhappy?  What do you feel is the main difference between the two?” This is how I answered:

I think that people who are happy – even though they may suffer from chronic illness – are most likely to embrace two seemingly conflicting mindsets. One mindset is a dogged determined to fight for as much quality of life as their condition allows (and more), and the other is to make peace with their condition, accepting limitations gracefully.

What did you learn this week?

Note: you can still join the Challenge. Just post a comment here and sign up for the Challenge Forum.


A tip for bloggers: Leo Babauta and I are gearing up for our new 6-week virtual Bootcamp: “How to Write Like an A-List Blogger”. The first week is going to be free! Sign up for it here – and tell your friends about it 🙂

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  1. Sandra Lee says:


    The shared aspirations are working to keep me on track. This past week I went forward with my exercise goals because I felt this connection and commitment with the others here.

    Thanks so much!
    .-= Sandra Lee´s last blog ..The Web of Love and 5 Beautiful Bloggers =-.

  2. Well done, Sandra! I’m enjoying the connection too.
    – Mary

  3. Hi Mary,

    I’m glad you mentioned the forum- I’ll need to check it out.

    I agree that every action counts, no matter how big or small. For some, the first few steps is a healthy move forward while for others, this is an extra few miles.

    Other people’s activities can inspire us, but we shouldn’t be put off if we can’t keep up with them… what matters is own journey on the road to good health 🙂
    .-= Scott McIntyre´s last blog ..5 Side Effects of Settling for a Second Best Life =-.

    • @Scott McIntyre, Yes, some people are debilitated with chronic injury and can hardly move. And even just a bit of movement may be their top measure of exercise. All that matters is that someone wants to improve whatever fitness they have.

      Glad you found the forum!

  4. Katie says:

    Mary, I am one of those 80 and even this week, despite feeling a little under the weather, I had the feeling of being a part of a group that would support me even in sickness, and encourage me when I got my health back and got back to exercising. Amazing how community can permeate the soul so quickly when a shared interest emerges. Thanks Mary.
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..How to Gather Honey From a Beehive of Knowledge =-.

    • @Katie, I do hope you feel better soon. I’m amazed at the difference the community support is making for my Challenge. I feel really supported in building a new exercise habit and it boosts my determination to keep going.
      Be well
      – Mary

  5. Mary: Thanks for the consistent push in the right direction:) It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget about doing the things that really matter … like staying fit. I think your recommendation to listen to your body and not overdo it is great advice and also Leo’s advice from the forum to just get moving. Thanks for all the great tips and advice. It is time for me to start moving again 🙂
    .-= Sibyl – alternaview´s last blog ..The Best Question to Ask to Put Everything Into Perspective =-.

  6. andewags says:

    Mary, the day after I joined the challenge, while still recovering from bronchitis, I coughed and pulled a muscle in my rib cage. I’ve been barely able to move since then. At first, I was discouraged. I’d started taking small steps toward my goal, and this was a big setback. But, when you have a site about setback, you’d better walk your talk. So I asked myself, what little thing can I do to keep moving forward even though I can’t move.

    So in addition to the healing self care I’m doing, I discovered I could do isometric contractions of my legs without causing pain in my ribs. And I could do mild breathing exercises. So I have done these things instead of nothing at all. Being part of community moving forward is incentive to keep the motion going even in the face of unexpected … and painful … challenges. Thank you for providing that community. 🙂
    .-= andewags´s last blog ..The Importance Of BOO! =-.

    • @andewags, Thanks for your beautiful comment. It’s so encouraging for all those who find barriers blocking their Challenge. I think that all of us will face moments like that in the course of this Challenge – and your focus on what you can do (instead of what you can’t) is an inspiration.

      Hope you get well soon
      – Mary

  7. MitchS says:

    As I mentioned in your forum Mary, I recently got a gym membership. I go for workout with my girlfriend all the time now. It used to be a lot harder to get motivated but having a good workout buddy to push you on days where you may otherwise slack off is quite nice.

    I like that you mentioned listening to your body. Great way to avoid injury to muscles or joints. At one point during a certain exercise I hear a clicking in my elbow. That was enough to indicate to me that the motion I was doing wasn’t good. Nice Article!
    .-= MitchS´s last blog ..Top 8 Holistic Wellness Blogs Today- =-.

  8. Hey Mary,

    I agree with you – fun is super-important.
    I believe that “official” sport style exercise isn’t that important. The vital thing is to move your body, and to have fun in doing so.
    Every morning, before I work with my PC, I do my free-style exercises:

    Dancing like a monkey on fire to my favorite band AVA
    Shouting “war cries” to get myself into state
    going out and do some jogging.

    Now some of it sounds a bit strange, but it’s really effective and it feels good to my body. If you have to force yourself to do exercises, you are doing something wrong,

    Thanx for the ass-kicking reminder, Mary !
    .-= Mars Dorian´s last blog ..The One Question That Will Determine Your Fate =-.

  9. I love it, Mary! I agree with all of your tips, especially the shared aspirations. If you have a significant other, I’ve found there’s no better way to improve both your personal wellness and your relationship than through shared fitness. And if you can’t or just don’t want to exercise together, the encouragement and accountability that accompanies a supportive spouse is tough to beat!

    Keep it up!


  10. Vance Sova says:

    Hi Mary,

    I used to go jogging with a jogging buddy and it was a great support since I would have a hard time doing it alone.

    I wasn’t crazy about that type of exercise though and so now I play tennis instead. I enjoy the game and never think of it as exercise but I that’s what it is.

    I think your lesson #2 is hugely important. Without fun the effortless drive to exercise will die sooner or later.

    .-= Vance Sova´s last blog ..4 Internet Marketing Peak Performance Tips =-.

  11. Betty says:

    l have ongoing back pain – lots of surgery! am now 86 years of age – swim laps for half an hour daily in heated pool – encounter so many early risers young and old…life begins at 5.30am with a whole world of positive people out there – feel so blessed that l started swimming 75 years ago and hope to keep going – goal being to reach 90 – my motto through life has been to try and establish a balance of “Motion to equal emotion”

  12. Hugh says:

    All great points, Mary. I especially like #2 – have fun with it. The best exercise program for any person is the one he/she will stick to. It’s that simple. If you dread your exercise/workout, sooner or later you’re going to stop doing it.

    It’s great to see so many people embracing the challenge. I have to go check it out.

    Also, just thought I’d mention a typo on the title of #4. Sorry to point it out, but I’m a grammar geek 🙂

  13. DS says:

    I absolutely agree with the fun aspect, I tried for ages to get into a good exercise routine, but every time I went running or went to the gym, I just thought ‘this is boring, why I am doing this?’ and eventually I just stopped. But then I discovered squash and it was just really fun, I enjoyed it so much that could keep on playing it for hours no matter how exhausted I was, I didn’t notice the tiredness because I was having a good time. So yeah, that is definitely a good thing

  14. Fitness is a good way, for releasing pressure and built up muscle, many think that body builder s are only suit for guy wanna pump up their tonic muscle, although that was the idea, instead these are also great exercise, for women after having birth, or people want to look lean but muscle, and to avoid that end result achievement, many people forget to have fun and enjoy the process of doing fitness.So have fun..
    .-= Ari Lestariono´s last blog ..How To Find A New Level Of Play With The Perfect Golf Swing =-.

  15. Paramjit says:

    I can relate to making exercise fun. For me, it is playing soccer. I look forward to getting with my buddies and having a good game of soccer. We have a lot of fun and not to mention, get a lot of exercise.
    .-= Paramjit´s last blog ..11 Quick Ways to Lose Belly Fat Naturally =-.

  16. I found that having someone walk with me makes walking doable. Otherwise it is just boring. I have a treadmill here that I just don’t use because it’s not very motivating.
    .-= Brandon Connell´s last blog ..The Guest Posting Contest &amp Holiday Message =-.

  17. […] Read about 5 things that make fitness enjoyable. […]

  18. […] about 100 people joined the Challenge! It seems that there is a quiet revolution in progress. From: Fitness: 5 Things that Make Exercise Enjoyable| Goodlife […]

  19. […] 100 people joined the Challenge! It seems that there is a quiet revolution in progress. From: Fitness: 5 Things that Make Exercise Enjoyable | Goodlife […]

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