How to exercise & enjoy it!

What? Enjoy exercise!? Yes it's true. I just did it.

It seems these days the word exercise has found a new name; the 'chore.' And sadly, that's how many of us perceive it as - a chore.

So how is it possible to undo this thinking? By giving exercise another name! Lets call it 'being healthy!' Now 'being healthy' is actually fun, at times social, and doesn't feel like a hassle. Sounds great doesn't it? And it gets better. In the process of having all this fun you may actually tone-up, along with feeling really good, sleeping better, and having more energy.

Okay, so how do you achieve what appears to be the unachievable? For starters associating exercise with weight loss will pretty much ruin everything. If you go out with the attitude, that all exercise does is help you lose or control your weight, then the actual therapeutic value of exercise is lost. Once you lose this kind of thinking, it is actually possible to enjoy the sensation of exercise. For example, tonight, I went for a walk to the beach, now normally this walk can become quite boring, but this time I went for the sole purpose of watching the sun set. So instead of thinking about the fact that I was exercising, I was actually hoping I'd get the timing right for the perfect sunset (which I have to say I got right), and it was worth all the sweat. I didn't associate it with exercise, though once home I realised how much I enjoyed the walk and the feeling of being fit.

I must admit, that sometimes it is not as easy as this, so you may need to be creative, as what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. So let's start with the boring jog, or swimming laps by your self, or working out at the gym. Forget these if you hate doing these things. If it's the same old thing every week, no wonder it becomes a 'chore', this is why many people eventually stop exercising. Becoming 'healthy' needs to be broken up a bit. You need to choose some 'recreational activities' that you are interested in.

Ever wanted to go to dance classes? Whether it be jazz, ballet or modern dance, ask your friends, see if they're interested. If they're not, here's an opportune time to make new friends. Find out where local dance classes are being held in your area. They're popping up everywhere. Be brave and go. Once a week is enough for starters, you may find you want to go more, but the trick is to take it easy, this is not a fad. Fads always die off, and this is 'being healthy', so you want it to last.

Now you need to find another 'recreational activity' to add to your week. You have an astounding amount to choose from. There's indoor rock climbing, netball, tennis, badminton, aqua aerobics, and even yoga. If you're into any of these, find out where you can get started, try and drag a friend along. But again, if this is not possible, it's a great time to join a club and meet new people. Now hopefully you've found two enjoyable things to do in the week.

For those who still haven't found anything to your liking, keep thinking. It's important to incorporate an absolute minimum of two activities a week to become 'healthy' (three would be much better).

So it's the weekend now. You want to catch up with friends. You must be sick of cafes and shopping! Why don't you access your natural environment for fun? If you live in the city, hire rollerblades with a friend, have a skate (then have your coffee). Go horse riding once a month. What we're looking for here is variety. Hire a real bike and ride outside (instead of in a gym), take a picnic, so you can stop in between. And dare I say it? Try golf (yes, I know most people gag at the thought of it), but once I actually learnt to play properly, I bought my own clubs. Even if you can't play, the walk is great if you go with a friend, and you can laugh at each other while you both try and hit the ball.

But if that's still not your cup of tea, try taking your friends bush for the day. Even if you live in the city there are always walking tracks not too far out, and hey, couldn't you do with a change? Bush walking is stimulation, but also relaxing as you take in the surroundings.

If you want to become healthy, it's not as hard as you think. The more you obsess over the activity as a weight loss program, the less gratifying it becomes. The best thing you can do is to get creative and do something different, and you're sure to find it enjoyable (this way you'll go back for more). Once you've started, you'll find it is easier to continue this healthy attitude throughout life.

- Louise Ganey