2 June 11 Can Exercise Be Fun?

This past Memorial Day, my husband and I ran the "Bolder Boulder" 10K race in Colorado. I don't think I have ever had so much fun running. It wasn't just the hilarious costumes (see photos from 7News here) worn by other runners – it was everything about the race from start to finish. The race course was lined with cheering residents and spectators, bands, belly dancers, acrobats, circus performers, water gun shooters, a cupcake hostess and water/Gatorade stations. The bands and cowbell ringers were critical for the good cheer and gave energy to the racers and spectators alike. All this for a race that draws international professional runners, local top competitors (hey, it is Boulder) and people like me – those who jog "exercise."

I believe that exercise can be social and enjoyable – it doesn't have to be drudgery. Many people have told me that they hate exercise because it feels likes work. It is yet another thing they have to do instead of doing the things they really enjoy. Exercise appears to be as popular as housecleaning. However, if these same people had the opportunity to participate in events that allowed them to use their creativity, laugh until they were hoarse, listen to music, converse with others, or make new friends, then maybe it wouldn't feel like work to them.

Find the Fun!

Here are some activities that can allow you to socialize while you burn calories.

Fun runs. These occur all over – you just have to know where they are. You can search by zip code and date at Active.com for a race near you. You can often enter as teams and compete against other teams.

Nature walks or hikes. Get a group going and agree to meet (rain or shine) at a specific location and time. My Dad says that he hikes with a group every Sunday. He tells me that his group walks for two hours, largely fueled by good conversation. They all enjoy it immensely and have been hiking together every Sunday for years. They occasionally have brunch after the hike.

Team Sports or Tournaments. Coed soccer, Frisbee, volleyball, ping pong, dance, etc. Sometimes competing as teams takes the pressure off individuals so that it becomes a fun social event.

Group Fitness Classes. Don't knock this until you have tried it! My 75 year old father loves his body pump class – he says the music and energy of the class is a blast. If you find solitary aerobic or resistance training lonely or boring, then definitely try group classes.

Group Fitness Dance Classes. People who have always hated exercise but enjoy music and dance often tell me that they love their Zumba classes. High energy classes set to high energy music in a group setting - very stimulating and fun for many folks.

Social Dancing & Classes. You don't need a partner to take Swing, Salsa, or Tango classes - you just need to show up! Social dancing is an exceedingly fun way to exercise – in addition to burning calories, you meet people and have a great reason to dress up and go out on the town! You have to watch some clips to appreciate how much fun social dancing can be if you practice and stick with it. Here are some popular social dances found in many countries, but especially common in cities in the United States:

Balboa Swing – Bobby White & Kate Hedin

Lindy Hop Swing – Multiple dancers

West Coast Swing - Ben Morris & Melissa Rutz

Argentine Tango – Gustavo Naveira & Giselle Anne

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD
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Exercise/Fun & Games

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