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Have a Happy Workout

Make physical activity fun and inspiring


Boredom can sap our resolve to exercise. Try some fun techniques, such as adult fitness playgrounds, or working out with a buddy, to have a happy workout.

Toss a ball. Hang from a bar. Jump on a bouncy surface. Sounds like child’s play doesn’t it? It’s what grown-ups are doing every day in fitness centres and neighbourhood parks across the country. Not only are they boosting their health but they’re also having a blast—and you can too! 

Gotta have fun

Life is too short to fill it with uninspiring workouts. Having fun is expected when we’re young; we learn valuable lessons while we’re playing. But as we grow older, the responsibilities of everyday life can drown out our fun-seeking instincts. We feel guilty about spending valuable time on something that seems frivolous—playing. Infuse your physical activities with elements that will nurture your need for fun.

Gotta do it

If we want to enjoy a long and vibrant life, daily movement is one maintenance requirement we can’t ignore. According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP), physical activity is

  • movement that increases the heart rate and breathing
  • any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure

Physical activity guidelines

CSEP’s physical activity guidelines state that to achieve health benefits, adults 18 to 64 years old should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Adding muscle- and bone-strengthening activities that use major muscle groups at least twice a week adds to the benefits.

This can lead to improved fitness as well as physical and mental health. It can help reduce the risk of

  • premature death
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • high blood pressure
  • certain types of cancer
  • type 2 diabetes
  • osteoporosis
  • being overweight or obese

Gotta love it

Enjoyment is a key requirement if you are going to stick with any fitness regimen. If your workout routine is lacklustre, with zero fun elements, it’s time to scrap that routine and find one that inspires you, motivates you, and maybe even has you laughing the calories off.

Fitness buddy

Research on successful goal achievement shows a very strong relationship between planning and adherence. A specific stated goal that clearly spells out when, where, and how it will be pursued will lead to greater success.

A fitness buddy can help keep you going strong toward your goal by forcing you to set your intentions with specifics (how, when, where). Working out with a buddy helps both of you as you motivate, inspire, and compete with each other. Plus, having someone to catch up on world events or the latest gossip will make time fly by—and you’ll look forward to your workouts.

Do: Seek out a walking buddy or share a personal trainer with a friend who has similar goals. A trainer can design fun and interactive partner workouts that will have you sweating and laughing together.

Playlist power

Great tunes pumping in the background during exercise has been shown to improve mood, boost energy, and even improve performance. Even during low- to moderate-intensity exercise, researchers found that music has a dissociative effect so that perceptions of effort and fatigue are lowered.

Do: Make a playlist of your power songs to accompany your workout. You will have rockin’ fun and endure longer for even more health and fitness benefits.  

Earth, air, and sunshine

Whether it is a power walk, jog, hike, boot camp class, or outdoor fitness circuit, the stimulating fresh air and mood-enhancing vitamin D from sunshine are a workout bonus. New research on “earthing” shows that simply walking barefoot on a beach or on wet grass has a grounding effect that is calming, relaxing, and healing, so even your moderate-intensity activities have perks when outdoors.

Do: Take your activities outdoors for both a physical and mental health-boosting workout.

Fun in numbers

The modern boot camp fitness class may retain many military elements (push-ups, whistles, and vocal trainers), but there is a lot more giggling, camaraderie, and fun than you might expect. Whether you join up with a soccer team or dragon boat racing team, or form a walking group, your gang of physical activity comrades will supply a valuable social component with a fun factor, not to mention motivation and accountability to keep you playing for the long haul.

Do: Sign up and join a group or team doing something you enjoy, or gather a group of friends to create a team and have some fun.

Sweat in style

When you look good you feel great, move differently, and are more confident. With good gear, you will feel good hitting the gym, the trails, or the field not only because you look good but also because your clothes help you perform in comfort.

Do: Invest in a stylish workout outfit or get some technical clothing and gear with performance enhancers, such as shirts that wick away sweat, pants with seams that don’t chafe, shoes with smart cushioning, or windbreakers with hand-warming sleeves.

Gadgetry for motivation

Research demonstrates the number one catalyst to continue exercise is detecting the health outcomes that result from your program. Long before the scale budges, fitness tracking gadgets can help you monitor even the smallest successes, and they can be super fun.

Do: Look for

  • a heart rate monitor that beeps if you are not working in your fat-burning zone or displays a trophy when you reach your calorie goals
  • a music player that announces distance markers until you reach your goal and then cheers for you when you make it
  • apps that track your workout distance, time, heart rate, and more, and displays them in colourful graphs that you can post to social media

Fitness playgrounds for adults

Loaded with fun elements, fitness playgrounds for adults are popping up in neighbourhoods across Canada. “The outdoor fitness gym trend is only beginning,” says Tim Malone, managing director of Great Outdoor Gym, who installs outdoor fitness equipment across Canada.

According to Malone, they are everywhere: schools, parks, senior residents, correctional facilities, military bases, cruise ships, camp grounds, hotel resorts, corporate campuses, and beachside bike paths. They contain durable, all-weather fitness stations that allow users to perform various exercises in a circuit. Stations can be set close together in a small fitness zone or spaced out along a trail system.

Modern outdoor fitness gyms include more than just chin-up bars and balance beams. Manufacturers have been consulting with kinesiologists and fitness consultants to develop smart and functional equipment that combine for a balanced fitness workout that rivals a commercial gym. Stations can include strength-building exercises, plus flexibility, balance, agility, and even cardiovascular health and endurance activities.

How to find an outdoor fitness gym

Because of their novelty, it may still be challenging to locate one in your community unless you happen to stumble upon it. One place to start your search for public outdoor fitness equipment is by contacting your community’s local parks and recreation department. Here are a few of many cities across Canada with outdoor fitness facilities.

Town of Esquimalt, BC
City of Port Coquitlam, BC
City of Red Deer, Alberta
Fort McMurray, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Alberta
City of Brandon, Manitoba
City of Vaughan, Ontario
Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia
Riverview, New Brunswick


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