We’ve written about a lot of workout options here on Lifehacker: from quickie options to gamification theory. But the best workout of all, according to experts, is simply whichever one you enjoy — because that’s the one you’ll stick with.
Happy gym members picture from Shutterstock
Over at Vox, Julia Belluz reports on how we overthink exercise, making ambitious plans when any exercise at all is better than a great plan that you aren’t thrilled about following through. She writes:
According to sports nutritionist Matt Fitzgerald, author of the books Diet Cults and 80/20 Running, the single biggest predictor of whether someone will stick to a new routine is simply whether they like it or not. “Those who say they enjoyed their workout the most are more likely to keep exercising after a year,” he said.
Many studies have shown that, even if you don’t lose a pound or change your body after working out, exercise will improve a range of health outcomes, including lowering your cardiovascular disease risk and staving off Alzheimer’s. So just find a way to sweat — and don’t sweat the details.
This sentiment is echoed by Australian fitness instructor Cato Rutherford, the founder and manager of leading Sydney gym Lift Performance. According to Rutherford, the most successful clients are the ones who are happy to be there:
If you want to get into the habit of going to the gym a lot, you need to find something you actually like doing. Some people really enjoy the weightlifting or power lifting stuff and some people are better suited to the gymnastics side of things. So try to focus on whatever brings you some level of enjoyment, especially to begin with.
A lot of my clients are competitive athletes who do their strength conditioning here. If you can find a sport or physical hobby you like, going to the gym can become part of your training, which is another way to boost your enjoyment levels as it’s all going towards something fun.
This is an important point that sometimes gets lost in the details of exactly how to do a certain workout, or how to do it better: Do you even like this workout? If not, you can explore other options, perhaps going back to the drawing board to find something that works for you and fits into your life.
If you’re not a morning person, you don’t have to exercise in the morning. If you’re sitting at a desk all day, even a walk or a daily stint of gardening is an improvement. Any consistent workout is better than none.
Chris Jager also contributed to this article.