Are You Having Fun Yet?
One of the key predictors of whether you’ll work out again isn’t how many calories you burned. It’s how much fun you had.
Choosing a workout that you don’t dread sounds obvious, but not everyone gives herself permission to do it, as you know if you’ve ever slogged through a long run when you would rather be doing Zumba. “There are now several studies showing that the amount of pleasure or displeasure someone reports during a bout of physical activity can predict the amount of activity performed three, six, or even 12 months later,” says Panteleimon Ekkekakis, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of kinesiology at Iowa State University, in Ames, who has studied what makes people stick to working out. What can make a workout a little more fun? Try these tricks.
Get Out of the Gym
If nothing at the gym excites you, consider doing something challenging but within reach, like a hike, or something a little offbeat, like tap dancing or canoeing. No matter what you choose, focus on the pleasant feeling you have during exercise, which is what really brings you back for more, says Ekkekakis.
Choose Your Own Intensity
When researchers in Ekkekakis’s lab asked people to change their workout intensity every five minutes, they gradually made their workouts harder, until they reached a comfortable intensity, and reported feeling better during and after the activity. But when the researchers secretly pushed them to go 10 percent faster, they felt progressively worse. So putting yourself— rather than an expensive trainer—in control is key.
Let Music Help
Tunes can help you work out a little longer and make exercise feel easier when you’re at a comfortably challenging pace. But no playlist will turn you into an Olympic hopeful: Research has shown that when you push to 80 to 90 percent of your maximum intensity, music doesn’t have the same effect.