Like for many, there was a time I struggled to stay motivated in regards to achieving and maintaining fitness goals. When my fitness levels were less than optimal, I found certain hobbies, particularly those involving a certain degree of physical activity, less enjoyable. I eventually gravitated towards a concept of using my hobbies to inspire and help formulate my fitness routines, and something amazing occurred.
Improved fitness led to better performance and increased enjoyment of various hobbies, and a heightened motivation level regarding staying fit and maintaining my gains and new performance levels followed, creating a positive feedback loop. With increased motivation came consistency. With consistency, I not only hit prior hard-to-reach fitness goals but far exceeded them, seeking more challenging ones.
With this came even higher levels of hobby activity performance I previously didn’t think possible, opening undiscovered, even more interesting doorways within each, and the cycle continues.
1. Exercise as a Hobby
I now consider exercise and fitness as actual hobbies I am very passionate about. However, this wasn’t always the case. There was a time I dreaded dragging myself to the gym, consciously and subconsciously finding every excuse in the book to miss workouts. The reality was that I just wasn’t interested in repeating the same boring routines every day, especially when tired or time-constrained and when more interesting albeit less healthy options exist.
By design, sheer force of will, and a gamble on effectively turning a negative life feedback loop positive, I turned fitness into a hobby. This involved carefully researching programs of interest and some trial and error to discover routines I not only enjoy but now can’t imagine a day in my life without. For example, rather than the same exercise circuits and cardio routines over and over, I discovered challenging, comprehensive, goal-oriented resistance and interval training programs. These are not only fun to do but kept my interest peaked. The transformation that occurred to my physique and improvement in sense of well being were quite dramatic, keeping my motivation high.
2. Other Hobbies can Reinforce the Need for Exercise
I’m an avid surfer and snowboarder. Surfing requires a great deal of upper body strength and interval physical activity endurance, whereas snowboarding requires quite a bit of lower body strength and endurance. Both require balance and flexibility.
By choosing exercise routines that target these specific performance areas and adding carefully created yoga and balance board routines, I am inspired to consistently work out. It reinforces my abilities in these sports, continuing to steadily improve over time despite my advancing age.
3. Low-Stress Activities with Friends and Family
I also enjoy hiking with my family. As our experience levels have increased over the years, so have the difficulty levels of the trails and terrain we hike. Staying fit, flexible, and balanced not only improves the experience but decreases injury risk, especially when negotiating steep, uneven terrain carrying heavy gear.
As the experiences continue to become more challenging, the interest and excitement levels increase, and the positive feedback loop continues. Plus, participating in these types of activities with the ones you love, while sharing the glories nature has to offer, is incredibly inspiring, increasing the ultimate impetus to stay fit so you can repeat the experiences for many trips to come.
4. Even Passive Activities can be Active
Finally, there is gardening. You make think of gardening as a passive activity that people gravitate to when they retire and become more limited physically. But that is the furthest thing from the truth. Gardening is hard work, plain and simple, and at times downright exhausting. The digging, weeding, heavy lifting, and pushing around full wheelbarrows can be as intense as any resistance or interval training programs I participate in. Plus, when I garden, I tend to stay very active for hours, essentially losing track of time.
Staying fit allows me to not only garden but also become a more creative gardener, further enhancing my enjoyment. We recently constructed raised beds which needed to be filled with compost. This was incredibly strenuous, and by the time I finished, I felt as if I had worked out for hours. In those beds, we started to grow our own vegetables. Therefore, the fruits of our labor (no pun intended) led to increased exposure and access to healthy, organic foods we love, benefitting our diet and overall health in ways that go beyond just exercise. There is just something indescribably special about eating these types of food from your own garden.
I believe the most fulfilled and best lived life is one which is well balanced, both mentally and physically. Achieving this balance inspires and sustains the will to continue living the best life possible for as long as possible.
Think about the activities and hobbies you enjoy most and what you can do to enhance that enjoyment as long as possible while living a healthier existence in general. The results will astound you! I hope the above are some helpful ideas on how to utilize the hobbies you enjoy most as self-inspiration tools to motivate you and others to do the same.
Joseph D. Pianka, MD
Joseph D. Pianka, MD, has been a board-certified practicing gastroenterologist for over twenty years. His ultimate goal is to help as many people as possible who struggle to find motivation in regards to health and fitness. All of his proceeds from his fitness guide and motivational book, It’s All in Your Head, will be donated to Ukraine relief.