5 Ways to Make Exercise More Fun

Tips to make working out more enjoyable and sustainable

A young woman dances in her living room with headphones on.

Tips to make working out more enjoyable and sustainable

Doctors have long known about the physical and mental health benefits of having fun. Things like laughing, playing and taking part in activities you enjoy have been linked to better heart health, lower stress levels, reduced risk of illnesses, better sleep and improved mood and energy levels. 

But what about the not-so-fun activities we do to stay healthy, like exercise or eating our veggies? Is it possible to up the fun factor and make these more enjoyable? Katherine “Kati” Urbina, DO, an internal medicine physician at Scripps Coastal Medical Center Hillcrest, says yes. 

“It’s not always easy to change your lifestyle, especially when it comes to being healthier. It can upend your schedules and routines and leave you really uncomfortable, but it is possible to improve your health and have some fun while doing it,” she says. 

These tips from Dr. Urbina will help make healthy activities more fun

1. Buy new gym clothes

Looking good can help you feel good, too. Invest in workout clothes that you love. And while you’re at it, go take that gym selfie. 

“Why not show off a little bit? That’s going to help form the positive reinforcement that makes you want to go back to the gym again,” says Dr. Urbina. 

2. Skip the gym altogether 

If the gym isn’t your scene, you’ve come to the right city. “In San Diego, it’s so easy to get outside,” Dr. Urbina says. “Any activity that gets your heart rate up is a great option.” 

That could be running, biking, dancing or playing catch with friends. Adding ankle weights or moving at a quicker speed makes something as simple as walking also a great option. 

3. Bring a buddy 

Everything’s more fun with a friend or family member by your side. If you’re working on fitness, try creating an obstacle course for you and your kids, taking a group class or setting your smart watch to participate in a group challenge. 

“By linking up, you keep each other on track and challenge each other,” Dr. Urbina says. “Friendly competition brings out a lot of good change in people.” 

Another suggestion: The next time a friend asks you out to dinner, spend the evening cooking together instead. Cooking for yourself is a much healthier option than eating out, Dr. Urbina says. Plus, cooking with others means more hands-on deck when it’s time for dishes. 

4. Squeeze some health into downtime 

If you like listening to music or podcasts to relax, try doing so while going for a run or chopping vegetables. 

“You can even stream a show while prepping food,” Dr. Urbina says. “You’re still able to mentally shut off, but you’re also cooking, or doing something good for your body.” 

5. Make it manageable 

Deciding to transform your life overnight can be overwhelming. And, according to Dr. Urbina, it also can be ineffective. 

“I recommend making one or two small changes every two weeks and giving those new habits some time to get really locked in,” she says. “Over time, those small changes add up, and you’ll have made long-lasting improvements.” 

San Diego Health Magazine cover, spring 2024

This content appeared in San Diego Health, a publication in partnership between Scripps and San Diego Magazine that celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.

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