Fitness: 5 Things that Make Exercise Enjoyable - Goodlife Zen

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 🙂



About the author

Mary Jaksch

Mary is passionate about helping people create a happy, purposeful, and fulfilling life. She is the founder of GoodlifeZEN and also the brains behind, one of the biggest blogs for writers on the Net. Mary is also a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

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