Fitness: 7 Ways to Get Fit Having Fun (cont.)

7. If you love a challenge and want to see real results, sign up for a civilian boot camp. Dave Johnson of Austin, Texas, generally keeps fit by running alone. But when a friend urged him to enroll in CPT Luke's Total Boot Camp, he was game. The month-long boot camp met three nights a week, and (except for the mosquitoes) Johnson found it highly motivating. "There's a big difference between thinking I have to get out of bed and run, and knowing that I paid money and people expect me to be there," says the 48-year-old engineer.

Johnson found he enjoyed the social aspect of boot camp: "You're passing a medicine ball or holding a partner doing sit-ups, and you develop camaraderie with your workout buddies." And in the end, he saw "a huge improvement" physically. "They used the exact same fitness scale as the Marines. I'm not sure where I started, but I finished in the 98th percentile. And my running time improved dramatically."

A Change of Perspective

In an ideal world, people would spend at least 5-6 days a week doing a balanced program of cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility exercises. But for many people, that's neither realistic nor appealing. The fact is, only a little more than one-fifth of Americans get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a minimum of five times per week, according to a survey published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In spite of all the emphasis on exercise over the last 20 years, the percentage of people who exercise regularly hasn't changed significantly. Perhaps we've gotten the idea that unless we follow the national exercise recommendations to the letter, buy all the latest gear, or hang on every word of the fitness guru du jour, why bother?

"We need to modify our perspective," says Bryant. "Too often, we want to focus on what's 'best,' and that may be one of the reasons we've been ineffective.

"We need to look at 'good, better and best.' Walking is good, maybe jogging is better, and maybe running is best. But our goal is to encourage people to make physical activity something they do consistently. Movement is key. Identify those activities you find enjoyable, and make the choice to move."

Originally Published May 13, 2005.
Medically updated May 16, 2006.

SOURCES: Archives of Internal Medicine, April 25, 2005 . Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist, American Council on Exercise, San Diego . Dave Johnson, engineer, Austin, Texas. Charles Swencionis, PhD, associate professor of psychology, associate clinical professor of epidemiology and social medicine, and associate clinical professor of psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, New York; co-author with E. Davis Ryan,The Lazy Person's Guide to Fitness: I Get All the Exercise I Need Walking Around the Office.

©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors