- Try a New Machine Each Time
There's no denying that doing the exact same exercise routine day in and day out can become a bore in no time. To stay motivated and make hitting the gym seem fun again, try a two-week challenge in which you try something new every day, whether that means sweating through Cardio Hip Hop Abs or enjoying a trip to the steam room. Once you've found new activities that appeal to you, it won't be hard to find a reason to keep going.
- Ride Your Bike
Not every exercise needs to take place inside the confines of a gym. When you ride your bike, you're killing two birds with one stone and getting around town much quicker than you could on foot. Fortunately, bike riding is also an excellent calorie-burner: a 150-pound biker can burn more than 400 calories per hour while riding at a leisurely pace.
- Reach For Your Runner's High
Running isn't always easy to get into, but when you get your first taste of a runner's high, you'll be asking yourself why you've missed out on so many years of this calorie-torching workout. Research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that the runner's high isn't just an urban legend — it actually has similar feel good effects to marijuana.
- Try a New Fitness Craze
Tired of your usual routine? It might be time to get trendy. Exercise crazes that develop a cult following, like SoulCycle, Zumba, and CrossFit, are generally fun, energetic, and novel ways to get in your daily burn while feeling like part of a community, which may increase your chances of returning for repeat workouts.
- Get Yourself At-Home Equipment
Even the most dedicated gym-goers have days when they just don't feel like lacing up their sneakers. To make sure you're still getting in a regular burn even when you can't get out of the house, get yourself a few pieces of equipment you can use at home. Resistance bands, exercise balls, and workout DVDs are all inexpensive ways to stay fit in the comfort of your own home. Research published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that home-based exercisers lost more weight over a 15-month period than those who exercised elsewhere.
- Grab Some New Workout Clothes
Making exercise exciting can be the key to establishing it as part of your routine in the long-term. While many of us hit the gym or head out for a run in the same clothes we wear around the to clean or even sleep in, getting a set of fun gear specifically designated for working out can help keep you more motivated. Research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology reveals that simply dressing the part can have a profound effect on people's way of thinking.
- Hit the Gym With a Friend
After work, spending time with family, and getting errands done, it often feels like there's little time left for socialization. Hitting the gym with a friend can make it easier to find reason to keep going back — you get a hangout and a workout in one. Research confirms that social support is hugely important, finding it was the factor most closely associated with adhering to a workout program long-term.
- Go Dancing
Get out of your gym rut by getting out of the gym. Instead, hit up your nearest dance studio. Dancing can be a great way to burn calories, learn a new skill, and enjoy one-on-one time with a friend or partner. Depending on the type of dance you're doing, a 150-pound person can expect to burn anywhere from 300 to 700 calories per hour.
- Join a Weight Loss Challenge
Being part of a larger group can help incentivize weight loss. It should come as no surprise that adding money to the mix doesn't hurt, either. Many companies and schools offer money or other perks to employees or students who lose weight, which can keep you motivated. Research suggests that sweetening the deal with cash may help exercisers commit to a plan for longer and potentially increase their weight loss efforts.
- Focus On More Than Just Your Weight
While the number on the scale isn't irrelevant, it shouldn't be the only goal you have in mind when you work out. When you have a specific goal weight in mind, it's easy to get discouraged when you don't see the numbers on the scale going down as quickly as you'd like. Instead, take factors like muscle definition, the number of days you hit the gym in a month, or how much stronger you've gotten as signs you're doing great.
- Hit the Beach
Some people say exercise is no day at the beach — so make it one! Exercising on sand burns far more calories (some say as much as 150 percent more) than exercising on solid ground, so turn what could have been a lazy day lounging on the beach into a major calorie-burning session.
- Relieve Your Frustration Through Boxing
Unless you're in the habit of practicing primal scream therapy, there are probably some stresses in your life that you just can't fully address. Workouts like boxing, where you can release large amounts of physical aggression, are particularly fun ways to exercise, and can have serious effects on your mood. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that exercise can help decrease stress and make you less prone to feeling similarly stressed out in the future.
- Challenge Yourself
Something a simple as writing down an exercise goal can make your workout more fun and more effective. Whether your goal is to lose weight, get stronger, or just have fun, having a particular goal in mind can make working out a more exciting endeavor. Research conducted at the University of Wales, Swansea reveals that setting specific goals has a positive effect on the performance of athletes.
- Treat Yourself to a Trainer
Hiring a trainer may feel like a luxury, but it will be well worth it in the end. Being held accountable by another person not only makes you more likely to show up for your workouts, it also makes them more fun — your trainer can design a fitness program that will help you meet your specific goals while using exercises you enjoy to get there.
- Meet New People
The social aspect of hitting the gym should not be undervalued. Getting in a group workout, whether you're trying out a fitness class or opting for group personal training sessions, can be a fun way to socialize while you work toward your Zero Belly. Research shows that exercisers are not only more likely to show up regularly when they have a partner, they also have improved performance when they're part of a group.
- Bring Your Four-Legged Friend
Man's best friend is also his best workout partner. Your dog wants (and needs) to get exercise every day, so why not make it a collaborative effort? The American Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reveals that 54 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese, so help Fido slim down while helping yourself with regular trips to the park, runs, or just long walks through your neighborhood.
- Work Out in the Early Morning Sunshine
Getting in a workout before you head off to work can boost your mood while increasing your chances of losing significant weight. Studies show that getting early morning sunshine can help improve your energy throughout the day, while research published in the Journal of Physiology confirms that exercising before breakfast can boost your weight loss.
- Go For a Swim
Swimming is such an enjoyable activity that we often forget that it's great exercise, too. Even swimming at a leisurely pace can burn nearly as many calories as going for a run —an average weight individual can burn upwards of 500 calories per hour doing a slow freestyle swim.
- Try a Relaxation-Focused Fitness Class
Not all workouts have to be about getting a high-calorie burn. Adding a relaxation-based component to your workouts, like a once-a-week yoga or stretching class, can help ease your tired muscles and serve as a reward for all of your hard work during your regular workouts.
- Treat Yourself to Some Entertainment
At the end of a long day, you deserve to relax. While we're hardly suggesting that you become a couch potato, giving yourself license to read a few chapters of a book, listen to a playlist that pumps you up (even if you wouldn't dare blast so much Taylor Swift at home), or tune into a show while you're working out can make exercising a whole lot more fun.