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Have Fun With Fitness
While just about everyone acknowledges the physical and mental benefits of a regular exercise program, the hard part is sticking to a program once you’ve started it. I mean - imagine - even Muhammad Ali hated his training regimen! Well the secret to a successful workout program, say researchers, is just having fun.
Here are the top 5 ways to have fun with fitness:
ADD MUSIC TO YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE
There’s a reason why so many people take their portable music players with them to the gym or on a long run – there’s a proven link between workout music and physical performance. Dating all the way back to 1911, the American researcher and statistician Leonard Ayres found that cyclists pedal faster listening to music – the average speed of the group while the band played music was 19.6mph or 31.5km/h, whereas when the band stopped, the speed decreased to 17.9 mph / 28.8 km/h. 
And over the next century, more than 100 studies have been done that document the link between workout music and performance. What researchers have found is that there is an actual science to creating the optimal playlist: the songs that work the best are up-tempo ones that produce a rhythmic response within the body, thereby encouraging you to move. Playing music helps to distract you from fatigue and pain, and also contributes to elevating your mood.
But it doesn’t just work as a distraction, a 2012 review of the research , concludes that it also improves efficiency too, the study showed that cyclists who listened to music used 7% less oxygen to do the same work as those who cycled without music. In fact, there is some evidence that the human brain may have evolved with the expectation that, wherever there is music, there is movement.  Not at all surprising given the youngest of children react to music with movement by dancing.
- VISUALISE YOURSELF GETTING FITTER AND HAVING FUN
Imagination and visualisation can play a huge role in peak physical performance. That’s why many professional athletes work with coaches who help them visualise success – whether it’s winning a race, hitting a home run, or scoring a goal. In 2014, researchers at Ohio University published a study in the Journal of Neurophysiology, in which they showed that simply visualising a strenuous workout could help to tone muscles and make them stronger.  Children imagine and use visualisation extensively when playing, I use this technique with Primal Play to make fitness more pleasant.
- FIND A WORKOUT PARTNER OR COMMUNITY
Ever notice how common it is to see two people going for a run together, or two people working out together at the gym? That’s because a “fitness buddy” is one great way to inspire a successful workout. We are social creatures and thrive when working together with a common objective. At the very least, you will feel guilty if you decide to cancel a workout, so you will be more likely to stick to your regimen. Researchers at Indiana University recently studied the fitness habits of married couples and found that couples that worked out together had a much lower dropout rate (6.3%) than members of couples who worked out alone (43%). 
If you don’t have a workout partner, the use of virtual online communities and groups also help with motivation and making exercise more fun. A randomised control trial published in 2010 by the Journal of Medical Internet Research looking at attrition rates for an online training program demonstrated a decreased drop-out rate when an internet community was added. 
- HEAD OUTDOORS
Working out while in the sun can elevate your mood, mostly because exposure to the sun stimulates the release of feel-good hormones known as endorphins. And exercising outdoors can lead to increased energy and revitalization. According to researchers at Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, exercising outdoors leads to feelings of energy, empowerment and even enjoyment. You tend to work out longer and harder because you are enjoying it more. 
- THINK POSITIVELY
Finally, there’s a lot to be said for the power of positive thinking. Too many people give up on an exercise program because they start creating excuses for themselves (e.g. “I make the same New Year’s resolution every year, and always fail”). A powerful tool, though, is the positive feedback cycle, in which each step you take acts as a form of positive reinforcement. This positive feedback loop is known as the operant conditioning theory. 
Having fun with fitness is about linking up your mind and body in a way that leads to enjoying movement. If exercise elicits a positive response, such as joy, then you are more likely to want to reproduce those feelings by engaging in the activity again. Hence why play is so useful as an intrinsic reward mechanism for physical activity as the more playful your exercise routine can be the more likely you will be to continue your training program.
So get out there, play some music, smile and have some fun!
P.S. Have a look at the 30-day Animal Moves Challenge, an online video program. It helps you to get stronger, healthier and feel great in 30-days.
References:  Exercise Psychology: The Influence of Physical Exercise on Psychological, 1992, Wiley  Karageorghis, Costas I., and David-Lee Priest. “Music in the Exercise Domain: A Review and Synthesis (Part I).” International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology 5.1 (2012)  Schulkin, Jay, and Greta B. Raglan. “The Evolution of Music and Human Social Capability.” Frontiers in Neuroscience 8 (2014)  Brian C. Clark, Niladri K. Mahato, Masato Nakazawa, Timothy D. Law, James S. Thomas, “The power of the mind: the cortex as a critical determinant of muscle strength/weakness”, Journal of Neurophysiology (2014)  Wallace JP1, Raglin JS, Jastremski CA, “Twelve month adherence of adults who joined a fitness program with a spouse vs without a spouse.”, J Sports Med Phys Fitness. (1995)  Richardson, Caroline R et al. “An Online Community Improves Adherence in an Internet-Mediated Walking Program. Part 1: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial.” Ed. Gunther Eysenbach. Journal of Medical Internet Research 12.4 (2010)  Thompson Coon J1, Boddy K, Stein K, Whear R, Barton J, Depledge MH, “Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review.”, Environ Sci Technol. (2011)  Staddon, J. E. R., and D. T. Cerutti. “Operant Conditioning.” Annual review of psychology 54 (2003)