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Is Exercise Torture? How to Make Exercise a Fun Activity

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The Difference Between Exercise and Workouts

Exercise is an activity that requires physical effort. You use your muscles to pull or push. It is done to maintain or improve your health. Workouts are structured exercise sessions designed to change or maintain your body. The focus is on strength, endurance, speed, muscle or fat. During a workout, you keep doing the same thing over and over again. Up and down, back and forth or around in a circle.

When you work out you end up back where you started. The only thing you have to show for it is your appearance. Young children exercise for fun. Older children exercise for fun and to change their body. Adults tend to exercise to maintain or improve their body. They focus on things they don't like and exercise becomes a form of self-torture.

I run on my elliptical trainer so I can bike to large provincial parks with beaches.

I run on my elliptical trainer so I can bike to large provincial parks with beaches.

Don't Treat It as a Means to an End

People will exercise for the purpose of achieving something else. The exercise is not important. It is just a means to an end. The exercise helps you achieve your goal but all the time you spend exercising is meaningless. You are just putting in the time and effort to get the results you want. If you exercise to lose fat then it is a means to an end. The exercise is more likely to feel like work you don't want to do. You exercise because you want the results or you decide that it is not worth the effort.

Exercise requires physical effort but it can be a fun activity. It does not need to be a means to an end. Do it for fun and get the same results without making exercise seem like torture. You can enjoy the time you spend exercising.

Exercise Is a Form of Entertainment

There is active entertainment and sedentary entertainment. Sedentary entertainment means you are not exercising. Some examples are watching TV while sitting down, playing button-controlled video games and playing cards. Active entertainment is entertainment that gets you moving. For instance playing soccer, playing a motion-controlled game like Wii Fit, dancing or walking along a beach.

Exercise is a good way to reduce boredom. You get off the couch or chair and do something instead of sitting still. There are not very many things you can do while sitting in a chair or on a couch. The people that avoid exercise spend more time being bored because they limit their options. I often exercise as a fun way to pass the time. It can be more fun than watching a lot of TV.

I look forward to doing handstand push ups.

I look forward to doing handstand push ups.

Looking Forward to Exercise

Think of things you like and combine them with exercise. Go to the places you want to go to and do the things you like to do but travel under your own power. Move instead of sitting still. I look forward to biking to provincial parks with beaches in the summer. While I am at the beach I walk a lot and explore the beach instead of just staying in the same area. In the colder months, I look forward to my daily walk in the woods. I like to watch TV and I wanted to exercise more. So I combined watching TV with exercise.

When you can't exercise while doing something you want then exercise to prepare yourself to do something you want to do. Exercise to give yourself the ability to do what you want in the future. Focus on what you want. If I am running on my elliptical trainer, riding an exercise bike or going for bike rides outside, I am training so I can bike to provincial parks with beaches. If you want bigger arm muscles you might want to train for a canoe or kayak trip.

Sometimes it is hard to think of a fun activity you want to train for. It is harder for me to think of things I want to do with my arms than my legs because I don't have a kayak or canoe. Another option is to think of achieving something. Instead of focusing on trying to get bigger arm muscles, I trained to do handstand push-ups. I look forward to being able to do handstand push-ups in the near future. So I look forward to doing my daily workout routine.

I see animals and beautiful scenery while exercising in different locations.

I see animals and beautiful scenery while exercising in different locations.


When you think of exercise you probably think of reps or repetitive movements. Maybe you have been running for an hour in the same spot five days a week for three months. The repetition can get to you. You get stuck in a rut. It can seem like life is passing you by. Instead of making you feel good, your exercise routine makes you feel bad. Repetition is part of exercising but you can still add variety to your exercise routine.

Exercise in different locations, try new exercises and new workout routines. Accomplish new things so you feel like you are making progress. Take pictures of the places you have been to and the things you have done. Avoid doing the same exercise session over and over again. Make small or big changes to your routine.

Challenging myself with tucked push-ups. The greater the effort the greater the reward.

Challenging myself with tucked push-ups. The greater the effort the greater the reward.

Effort Is Not a Bad Word

Some people act like effort is a bad word. They consider most things to be too much effort. Going for a walk is too much effort. Playing a game that requires you to move is too much effort. When they see people running or biking they think those people are crazy. Why would a person run or bike when they could be sitting in a chair? I have been called crazy for wanting to ride my bike when I could go by car.

There is a reason video games are not designed to be easy. They are fun because they are challenging. The most addictive games require a lot of effort. You are rewarded for the amount of effort you put into it. The greater the effort the greater the reward. People like being rewarded for the amount of effort. They appreciate the reward more when it requires more effort. They appreciate the reward less when it requires less effort. That is why cheating can take the fun out of games and sports.

Exercising can be addictive when you are rewarded for the amount of effort you put into it. As your body adapts the exercise becomes easier. The reward is diminished. So you need to make the exercise more difficult or start a new routine to make it more rewarding. Biking to the nearest beach started to become too easy. It became less rewarding but I still wanted to go for my weekly bike ride. So I started biking to beaches that are farther away.

Work or Play

Playing is participating in an activity for fun and recreation. Work is participating in an activity to accomplish something useful and serious. You can exercise for fun or do it as work. Exercising to lose weight or bulk up is work. The emphasis is on changing your body. Exergaming is a term that refers to playing video games and getting exercise at the same time. Play the game for fun and get some exercise while you are at it. Motion-controlled games reminded some people that they can exercise while they play.

Getting fit should not make you feel bad. Exercise should be fun, not torture. Focus on having fun by being active. Motion-controlled games are one way to exercise while you play. You can also play sports or do a recreational activity like hiking. When I bike 12 miles to the beach I am playing. That is why it does not seem like torture even though it requires a lot of effort.

Why sit in one spot near the parking lots when the beach is over 7 km long? I went for a long walk leaving the crowd of hundreds of people behind. This is as busy as it gets.

Why sit in one spot near the parking lots when the beach is over 7 km long? I went for a long walk leaving the crowd of hundreds of people behind. This is as busy as it gets.

Why or Why Not

Think of exercise as an activity people do for fun during their recreational time. Do it to avoid boredom and for the rewards. Exercise for entertainment. You should be having fun or training so you can do something fun. If your exercise routine becomes boring then change it. People think working out is a form of self-torture because a lot of people torture themselves while trying to lose weight or bulk up. Your goal should be a fun activity.

Weight loss goals are bad. The activity you are training for is stepping on the bathroom scale. Exercising so your clothes fit is a bit better but it is still boring. Think of something you want to do for fun and for the sense of accomplishment it would give you. Some good activities are kayaking, canoeing, biking, hiking, swimming, rollerskating, playing sports, and playing motion-controlled video games. Push-ups, pull-ups, jumping rope, shadow boxing and other exercises that people do during a workout are good if you actually want to improve your ability to do the exercise.

Why do you exercise? Is it a means to an end? Why don't you exercise? Is it because exercise seems like torture? Exercise can be torture if you are focusing on what you don't want and doing things you don't enjoy. Your fitness routine should be based on what you want and what you like to do. Remember to continue to challenge yourself and remember to change your routine often. Keep it fun. Exercise should not be just a means to an end. The exercises you do should matter.

Make exercise a fun activity by doing it as a form of active entertainment.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Michael H


sakinah on December 01, 2015:

Interesting article. I always hated exercise because it was mind-numbingly boring. I do love Wii-fit and Taekwondo, though.

Amelia Griggs from U.S. on December 11, 2014:

I think are into it and some are not. I have always enjoyed exercising and now I go to a gym that I love and attend weight training classes. I have met a lot of friends and we also enjoy being there so it is all the more fun!