The mind game pre-workout: You’ll be more successful if exercise is fun

Unless you’re a gym rat, you probably find yourself dreading the thought of having to exercise on a regular basis. There’s one easy way to combat this mindset, and this is to simply make your workout “fun.”

While there is solid scientific data which proves that the average American is overweight, one of the things that we can do to prevent this fills a lot of people with dread: exercise. Most of the time we just promise ourselves that we’ll go to the gym more or that we’ll run daily but before we know it, another year has passed and exercising more is just another thing to write on our list of New Year’s Resolutions.

Whatever happened to the child-like glee that we felt at the thought of going to play outside? If we can channel this same zeal towards working out or jogging, maybe exercising won’t feel like such a burdensome chore.

These days exercise is often comprised of daunting numbers and records, and there are bound to be some individuals who realize that even though they want to get fit, working out has lost its appeal because they equate it with all sorts of charts, graphs, and measurements. Eventually, people started viewing exercise as a dreadful chore instead of a fun activity to help you stay fit. (Related: Exercise boosts healthy DNA expression within just a few minutes.)

Even a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research has revealed that despite being paid to work out at the gym, participants did not feel motivated. It seems like money was not enough to make people go through that which they commonly view as “organized pain.” The fact that fitness experts often use the saying “no pain, no gain” to convince people to work out isn’t helping.

Competitive school environments are also taking the fun out of exercise. There are even coaches who just focus on a handful of a class’ best performers to ensure that a team can win instead of training everyone on an even playing field.

If we change our mindset of exercise being tedious and boring, we might be able to enjoy working out instead of not making the most out of our gym memberships. Start conditioning yourself to think that exercise should be fun, and it can help you reach your target weight faster.

Four scientific ways to make exercising fun

If you’re at a loss on how to make exercising something to look forward to, here are some tips to make your workout fun again:

  1. Work out with a friend or your significant other – You’ll feel more motivated to hit the gym with a loved one. According to a study, you’ll feel “five times more likely to exercise” if your spouse is working out with you. Humans are social creatures and you can also grab a friend to go jogging with. Fabio Comana, a faculty instructor at the National Academy of Sports Medicine, shared that a “support system brings camaraderie, collaboration, accountability, and perhaps some friendly competition.”
  2. Cheer yourself on – Spend time with positive people who can inspire you to work out more, and leave yourself notes of encouragement. New research suggests that athletes “perform better and take longer to reach their exhaustion road block” when they are surrounded by happy faces.
  3. Go outside If you don’t want to stay cooped up inside the gym, head outside and take a jog through some scenic parks. Exercising outdoors can help decrease “feelings of tension, anger, and depression, while increasing engagement and helping participants feel more energized,” revealed research data.
  4. Listen to some awesome music If you’re listening to some of your favorite songs, you can improve your performance and it might even help you do more strenuous activities.

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