More than 6.2 million Americans have gym memberships. But only about 18% of members go to the gym regularly. For some people, traditional fitness methods work. They’re happy running on a treadmill, lifting weights, or riding a stationary bike.
For others, though, that can become mundane and boring very quickly. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing when you’re exercising, you’re probably not going to stick with it. In fact, according to research conducted by Strava, it was predicted that the day people are most likely to give up on their New Year’s resolution to exercise more is January 19th. While that doesn’t mean all of those people went to the gym and didn’t like it, it does probably mean they couldn’t find a workout regimen they enjoyed enough to keep going for longer than three weeks.
Thankfully, fitness doesn’t have to mean hours in a gym. It doesn’t even have to mean formalized running, biking, or some other traditional exercise There are plenty of non-traditional ways to stay active, including small choices you can make each day to “sneak in” a bit of exercise.
Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. If you know you’re not getting that in like you should, let’s look at a few ways you can make fitness more fun.
Track Your Progress
Health and fitness apps and wearable tracking devices have become incredibly popular in recent years. Fitbit has 28 million active users worldwide, and Apple has over a 50% share of the smartwatch market. Many people love the Apple device for fitness as it motivates them to “close their rings” on a daily basis by reaching specific goals.
Studies have shown that people who use health apps or fitness trackers are more likely to exercise than those who don’t have such devices.
So why are digital devices like these so effective? Let’s take another look at the Apple Watch as a clear example. The watch sets fitness goals for you each day. There are different “ring categories,” and you can see the rings on the watch getting fuller and fuller throughout the day as you near your goals. The categories include:
- Move: Active calories burned
- Exercise: At least 30 minutes of physical activity
- Stand: Getting up and walking around for at least one minute, throughout 12 different hours of the day
It’s satisfying to watch those rings close and they are a simple way to motivate people to reach their goals. It’s a great example of gamification, as the reward is hitting the goal and feeling good about yourself. It doesn’t matter how you reach those goals, whether you’re going for a long walk, going rock climbing, or playing a game of football with your friends. There isn’t a hard and fast rule on what to do — you just have to get moving! People who don’t typically love the gym can certainly get behind that.
Go On a Treasure Hunt
If you really want a unique way to get in some exercise, try geocaching. You can play the role of a real-life treasure hunter simply by downloading a Geocaching app and looking up where the hidden gems are in your area.
Geocaching is an activity that uses GPS coordinates to find items people have purposefully left behind. The idea is to take what you find and leave something new for others to discover. Currently, there are over 3 million geocaches out there to find!
Many geocaching locations are in wooded areas or on terrain that isn’t always easy to get to. While that might seem inconvenient, it definitely adds to the “treasure hunter” feel of it. The official “Geocaching” app gives you a lot of information ahead of time, including what the terrain is like and how long it might take you to get the item.
You can walk, hike, mountain bike, or climb your way to the treasure! It’s a great activity for an otherwise lazy weekend or something fun to get the whole family involved while camping or hiking in the woods. For a little extra help, consider bringing a metal detector with you on your hunt to make finding items easier.
The Gamification of Health Goes Beyond Fitness
When it comes to non-traditional routes to fitness, the idea always remains the same — get moving. It doesn’t matter what you do, but it should be something you enjoy so you’ll stick with it.
It’s also important to remember that fitness isn’t just about losing weight or gaining muscle. It’s also about your overall health and wellbeing. Regular exercise routines can be used for preventative health. Staying active can reduce your risk of many different conditions, including:
- Heart attack
- Certain cancers
- Type 2 diabetes
You can use health apps to help you reach goals outside of burning calories and counting steps. You can track your meals, sleep patterns, and even use them as a resource to quit smoking.
Fitness is important for everyone, no matter your age. If you’re a senior citizen, staying active can restore muscle strength, improve balance, reduce stress and help with memory loss. If you’re a parent, getting your kids involved in a physical activity they love can help in the fight against childhood obesity, which currently impacts about 13.7 million kids across the country.
When you find a fitness regimen that doesn’t lose your interest, you’ll put more effort into it and won’t flake out because you’re “not feeling it.” Find what works for you, explore different options, and don’t feel obligated to hit the gym. There are plenty of ways to get fit without it, so get moving and get creative!