Convince me that exercise/physical activity is fun


I need to get up from in front of this computer and do something. I know that.

And all the books/articles say “do something fun.”

I’ve never been able to find an activity, sport, game, etc. that’s fun for me. Ever since I was a little kid. I hated PE (back when they used to have PE).

I’m not going to go into my litany of excuses, because even I know they’re excuses. They bore even ME. :rolleyes:

And I am (by the standards of this BB) old: 61, though able to be quite active were I so inclined. Still walk, talk, dress myself, and have all my own teeth. I got my bicycle out a few weeks ago and I have to put it on a rack and take it somewhere to ride as my property is all very soft sand and not possible to ride on. I enjoyed it for a few days, but then I started dreading the idea of going out to ride. I’ve gone the home exercise machine route in the past and even got the Wii Fit (which was fun for a while… sort of).

I’m embarrassed confessing this, but need help. Maybe there is no cure for me?

  1. Set a goal. Focusing on achieving something can make the exercise tolerable.
  2. Mix it up. Don’t do any one activity more than a day or two in a row.

I play racketball. It is competitive and fun. I hate stairmasters . They are boring and dumb. I look forward to playing racketball . I never thought ,I can’t wait to get to the gym to stairmaster.
It is important to find something you like to do. If it is competitive, it is that much better.

Sorry for the obvious question, but what have you tried? And to what extent have you tried it? The things you’ve described trying in the OP are solitary which, to me, is inherently boring. I like group activities with structured lessons/instruction. groups, to meet people, instruction, to keep my mind engaged, structured, so I have a specific time set aside to do it.

What works for me so far is martial arts classes. I could also see dancing lessons but I haven’t tried them yet.

Try mixing up the Wii Fit with other active Wii games, like Wii Sports Resort. There’s apparently a sword-fighting game there that’s very active and sounds a lot more like “fun.” I also prefer the Wii game EA Sports Active but that might be too much like Fit for you.

What you really have to do is brainwash yourself. Pick a physical activity, and tell yourself it is just so fun, you have to do it or you get into a nasty mood. Keep telling yourself that, over and over–as you do it, as you think about it, etc.

I will echo that having someone to suffer with, I mean, exercise with, is more fun. Plus it sort of becomes an obligation. Example: I was in this group that played doubles tennis every Friday night. There were six of us, so we had some weeks off, but mostly it was every week. if it was my week and I didn’t show up, three other people would be quite pissed off. And if it happened more than once they would have kicked me out. So every week I played tennis.

Oddly, almost every week I would think, damn I’m tired. Tough day. I’m too beat, I won’t be any good, I don’t wanna…etc. But I always went, and I was always glad afterwards.

There’s another thing you can tell yourself until you believe it: Oh I hate it, but it’s worth it because I always feel so good afterward. (And this true for me, I always do feel good afterward.)

Keep trying different things.

I did what you did. I hate exercising. I find it boring as hell. I refuse to join a gym because I find them so horribly boring. Treadmills are awful. I tried walking. I walked 3-5 miles a day for a couple years. Boooooring. Hated it. I tried bicycling. Too dangerous in this town, which is not terribly bike friendly. Too much of a pain in the ass to drive 20 miles to the nearest bike path, then ride 20 miles. Got the Wii Fit. Lost ten pounds and enjoyed some of the yoga. Hit my goal weight and got bored with it. Went to yoga with some friends. Still too structured, still boring, and it doesn’t feel like a workout to me.

Finally. I hit upon the one form of exercise that is A) wide open to interpretation/creativity and therefore, is not very structured at all, B) is very difficult, challenging work, C) makes me ripped and keeps me in very good shape, D) has improved my flexibility, muscle tone, definition, stamina, rhythm, and muscle strength and E) does not bore the crap out of me.

It’s pole dancing.

Yep. I’m taking stripper classes. An “alternative dance studio” opened up around the corner from my house. I love to dance, always have, and had started to just go home and dance for an hour instead of pulling out the Wii Fit and standing still for 8/10s of the “workout.” (I hate the lag time between exercises. Why can’t you just skip past all the crap? You totally lose momentum.)

Now I spend three days a week in a class called Body Shop, which is basically hard-core conditioning, mostly core work, in 5" heels, using a chair or a stripper pole to help balance. Great fun. The routines change up and I can improvise, i.e., if I think of a combination of moves that wasn’t taught to me in that order, and it’s a good way to get myself from position A to position B, then there are no rules saying I can’t throw that combo into a routine.

I’ve taken Zumba and done some exotic floor work (stripper moves). It’s a new studio, so the poles go up next week, when I will be attending a ten-hour intensified “Pole Camp,” learning a bunch of pole tricks. The studio also offers aerial arts (think: Cirque du Soleil) with a big ring thingy, a trapeze, and the big silk ribbon thingies. I haven’t taken any aerial classes yet – I’m a bit scared of the ring and the trapeze.

It’s like gymnastics flipped up vertically. It’s not boring, it’s challenging, it’s interesting, and the music is awesome. The instructors will let us bring in our iPods so we can mix up our own music if we want to. Could not be more fun for me.

BTW, I am about a month away from turning 41. I’m in those classes with a bunch of young 20-somethings who could all be my children. But we’re having a great time working together, spotting each other, and helping each other master the tricky stuff.

So I suggest keep on looking. Change it up every 3-4 months (give new endeavors time, you might like something after getting a little better at it) until you hit on the one thing that you wake up thinking about every morning. I used to stay at work as long as I could because I didn’t have anything else to do at home but watch TV and justify ignoring my Wii. Now, I bolt right out the door at 5:00 on the dot because I’ve been thinking about working on a new pole trick all day and I want to race over to the studio and get to work.

If “competitive” isn’t your thing, then look for something that’s more team oriented, or even solitary. Kayaking is a good upper-body solo workout where you get to go somewhere (down a river) and see stuff. Or you could join a local soccer, baseball, softball, whatever-ball team.

Also, check out roller derby. A lot of cities now have roller derby teams. I know a woman who is now kicking ass in roller skates once a week.

Just keep trying different things.

There are three ways you could go with this:

  1. Find an activity that is, in itself, fun (for you!).
  2. Do something active with other people, so that even if you don’t enjoy the activity itself you enjoy the company.
  3. Find something else to do that you enjoy, that you can do while you exercise (like watching TV while you’re on your exercise machine, or listening to music or audiobooks on an MP3 player while you’re out walking).

Keep trying, ThelmaLou. Keep trying different activities, and use Hilarity N. Suze’s idea of making it an obligation by involving someone else that will depend on you being there to make them exercise, too. Maybe find something that costs you some cash to be on a team - bowling comes to mind. That way, you can tell yourself that you’ve already paid all that money, you should get out there and get some benefit from it.

And if you can manage to string a few days and weeks of regular effort together, you can get to the point where the endorphin buzz kicks in. But be warned - endorphins are a gateway drugs. They can lead to the hard stuff - aspirin, acetominephin, ibuprophin, etc. :smiley:

Thanks, y’all for the advice.

Wow- pole dancing! Great stuff.

This is certainly true:

The one thing that I did one time that I absolutely loved (don’t laugh) was something called “Women’s Circle Dancing.” You get in a circle and do these repetitive moves to chanting or folk music. It’s absolutely hypnotic. The dance can go on for 20-30 minutes. It seems that this is something women do and have done for centuries all over the world. There isn’t a group like this in my area- this class was a one-time thing.

I’ve thought about a folk-dancing group that meets weekly. I DO feel shy about going, not knowing Thing One, and not having a partner (although they insist you don’t have to have one… yeah, right). This is the one thing I come back to in my head over and over. I did finally join an Israeli folk dancing class that I had been thinking about for years and I hated it! I loved the dancing part, but I couldn’t stand the other class members! (I’m Jewish, so it wasn’t that… they were just obnoxious.)

Does anyone here do folk dancing or square dancing?

I don’t dance, in any, way, shape, or form. The closest thing to dancing that I can do would probably resemble a spastic cow that got tangled up in the electric fence. But if it gets you out and moving, and you enjoy it, then I say go for it! If you can’t find a place that offers what you want, maybe you can find a community center that has free space in the evening, and you can start something.

If you join a gym and do your workouts there, you can check out all the eye candy as you’re working out. That’s fun!

As a side note, that’s one improvement of EA Sports Active over the Fit (admittedly I haven’t tried their upgraded version, Fit Plus or whatever) - they have preset routines or you can create your own, and you can skip right past the explanations. It also lets you use the balance board if you have it, or omit it if you don’t. At least one company learned from the mistakes of the others.

Oh, dancing - if the OP still wants to get some use out of the Wii there’s a dance game called “Just Dance” that a coworker has said is a serious workout “just” from dancing.

After my dad died, my mom joined a country line dance group to get out, meet people, and get some exercise. She found her boyfriend there. :smiley:

Well… I come from a long, long, long line of Scottish farmers who all loved square dancing. So from big-enough-to-walk, we were all trained to square dance. If you didn’t have your annual square dance with Grampa at the fair, you were practically not a member of the family anymore. I’d rather jam forks into my ears than listen to the music (I’m a bit allergic to bluegrass because my dad tortured me with it.), but dance is always good for you.

If you enjoy dancing, find a class or a studio and just. go. do. it. Yes, it’ll be a little awkward at first. (This is why I make a point of introducing myself to all the newbies and having a little conversation with them so they feel a little less awkward than I did on my first day.) But once you get to know people, boom, there’s your accountability to someone else. “Hey, see you on Wednesday!” is a really good motivator for me, if I know someone else is counting on me being there.

My Grandfather danced until the day he died. When he was 80, he went in to have a double-knee replacement. My aunt asked him if he was afraid of the surgery. “Afraid?” He bellowed. “I ain’t gonna die from this. When I die, it’ll either be I was shot by a jealous husband, or I dropped dead on the dance floor.”

Four years later, at 84, my Grandfather had a heart attack on the dance floor, at the annual family square dance at the fair. Never regained consciousness and died a couple weeks later.


There is no such thing as too old to cut a rug.

Also, Thelma Lou: Bellydancing!

A lot of senior centers and dance studios are now offering bellydance. Looks like a blast.

Dogzilla, condolences on your Grandpa. :frowning:

Interestingly, my Grandmother used to say, “Never marry a man who won’t dance.”

ETA: I have definitely thought about bellydance. But not at a senior citizens’ center. Everyone there is too old. :slight_smile:

Here’s the key I found:

Books on tape. Exercise isn’t fun, it’s boring, hard, routine and monotonous.

If it were fun everyone would be doing it.

Go to your library and get some books on tape for free. Then while your biking, on a treadmill or walking the dog you’re also reading. All those books you’ve been “meaning” to read. Well you’ll get them read.

Say you’re not into books. Try the Archive (dot) Org and look up old time radio (OTR). There are tons of FREE old time radio shows, now in the public domain. Listen to “George Burns and Gracie Allen,” or “Jack Benny” as you exercise. You’ll laugh your head off.

From “Burns and Allen”

Gracie) Let’s go dancin’
George) Not tonight dear, I’m exhausted
Gracie) But it’s good for you, keeps you in shape
George) Gracie I’m too danced out
Gracie) And if you went dancin’ you’d lose some of that weight

[Say “too danced out” fast enough and it sounds like “too damn stout.”]

There are drama shows, court shows, theatre shows, comedy. And OTR does it SO much better than TV for listening, 'cause it was intended for radio. Nothing is scarier than the images you put into your own head.

Remember YOU are your competiton. You compete to get yourself in better shape. At 61 you’ll never be 25 again, but so what? You want to remember to measure your results NOW against your pevious results, not against the 25 year old at the gym. That is a sure way to quit.

Finally once you get all the helpful advice here, start a thread called “Ask the man/woman who’s over 60 and just started to get back into shape” thread.

This way you will have a public challange out there and be able to talk about it with other people in your situation.

Oh, dear, he died back in the mid-80s; it’s not exactly a recent loss.

But thank you.

Dog, not a recent loss, but a permanent one, no?

I don’t think there’s any exercise that I actively enjoy, just some that are less annoying than others. That said, I work out 5-6 days a week because I eat too much and I know I have to!

What I’ve found helpful lately is going for long walks/runs with interesting podcasts, so even though the activity itself is still pretty boring, the mental stimulation is enough to keep me engaged.