10 Ideas to Make Workouts More Fun

Workouts are work. There’s no way around that. Whenever you move matter through space and time, whether you’re displacing your own body weight or a barbell or a kettle bell, you’re doing work. It’s just physics. But there’s another meaning of “work”: an unpleasant but necessary activity that helps you achieve a desired outcome. Far too many of our workouts end up embodying this second definition. They’re chores, strains. That’s why so many people—all of whom know they should be exercising on a regular basis—remain sedentary, unfit, weak individuals. Physical activity is no longer required to survive. We don’t “have” to do it anymore. If it feels like a miserable experience, why would we?

There are ways to escape this mindset, though. There are ways to make your workouts feel more likely play and less like work. Let’s look at a few today, and I hope you’ll share what works for you in the comment section. Btw, I’ve included a video of me doing one of my favorites below.

Find an Activity That’s Intrinsically Rewarding

When training, extrinsic rewards are always going to be present. You’re always trying to look better naked, lose weight, hit a PR, get better health markers. But if your training is also intrinsically rewarding—if you derive satisfaction, pleasure, and meaning from the act of training itself— you’ll have no problems sticking with it. Only the hardest of hard core will maintain a training regimen they hate. Everyone will keep a training regimen they love. Find something you enjoy doing, that you’d do even if it provided no health or aesthetic benefits, and make that at least part of your training regimen.

If You Hate Something, Try Something Else

This is the most fundamental mindset shift. Don’t do things that you hate.

A workout doesn’t have to be a walk in the park. Not everything is going to leave you bursting with joy. But if your training regimen is leaving you miserable, if you dread it and find every excuse to skip it, that’s worth heeding.

Maybe you hate back squats, but front squats are downright enjoyable. Maybe you hate spin class, but hill sprints are fun. Maybe you hate dedicated cardio or HIIT sessions, but pickup basketball twice a week does the trick. Find an alternative that accomplishes the same thing.

Try Competing Against Other Entities

I enjoy competing against myself. I like beating my own records, surpassing my own achievements, improving on my former self. I also like competition against other humans. That’s why I ran marathons and competed in triathlon for so long—I liked beating the other guys. It’s also why I love Ultimate Frisbee. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of competition to make you forget about how hard you’re working and how great of a workout you’re getting.

You can compete in CrossFit, in pickup games at the park, in adult rec leagues. Anything at all will work.

Get Better Goals

Me? My goal is to play better:

  • I want to be able to play Ultimate every weekend with guys 3o years younger (and keep up).
  • I want to go out for a paddling session whenever I want and not have it feel like work.
  • I want to hit the slopes all weekend and be able to drive home without my quads cramping up every time I hit the brake.
  • And I want to do all that while staying injury-free.

My training focus, then, is to maintain: my fitness, my muscle mass, the viability of my connective tissue, my bone mineral density. I’m not going for PRs anymore because it’s too risky at this stage while bringing me no closer to my goals. But that’s fine. I’ve found what works for me and my goals. And it makes the more “boring” training that much more enjoyable, because I’m working toward something that I love and frankly need to be healthy and happy.

Half my training is play. The other half is training that supports the other half, the play, and gets me closer to it. I know what and I’m doing and why. Do you?

Integrate Training Into Your Work Day

When you’re plugging away behind the computer, take ten minutes to go for a walk, run some sprints in the stairwell, do a few sets of pushups and squats, or swing the kettlebell you keep in your office when you feel like a break. You’re still working, but it’s different. You’ve switched from the mental to the physical, and that change is everything. Suddenly you want to train, because it’s not filling out a report or writing another email.

The added benefit is that taking fitness breaks will make you more eager to get back to work and, thanks to better blood flow to the brain, more productive when you do.

A ten-minute break to move or train every hour is the sweet spot, I find.

Take Up a Martial Art

Humans have a predilection for violence. Human history is in many respects a history of violence. We all need to acknowledge that and integrate it. That doesn’t mean we should be violent. It means there’s nothing wrong—and perhaps a lot right—with developing our capacity for physical conflict in a controlled, safe environment. Sparring, not street fighting. Staying calm in tense situations, not freaking out and escalating. Roughhousing, not brawling.

One of my big regrets is not learning a martial art. I have been learning a bit with an experienced friend, who’s shown me a few things and runs drills with me, and that’s only made me realize how much I’ve missed out on. Don’t make that mistake.

Set a Few Rules

Making rules that “force” you to exercise can be liberating.

One rule I’ve been following lately is “exercise when Shanti (our dog) exercises.” I’ll take the ball or frisbee out to the park, and every time I throw it I’ll exercise until she brings it back. I’ll do as many pushups or bodyweight squats as I can. I’ll hold a plank. Maybe I’ll even bring a kettlebell along and do swings or overhead presses or cleans or goblet squats. Depending on how far you throw the ball and how fast your dog is, you can end up doing short or long sets. This has ended up being one or two of my workouts each week.

Another example is people who hang pullup bars in a doorway and have the rule that they must do five (or however many) pullups each time they pass through. Without fail. If it’s a heavily trafficked part of the house, you might accumulate 30 or 40 pullups on an average day. Those add up.

Maybe you do squats while brushing your teeth. Or “sprint every hill you see.” Or “walk after every meal.” The point is to repeat these rules and stick to them until they’re part of you, and you find yourself training without making the decision to do it. What begins as an arbitrary rule (what rule doesn’t?) will eventually become sacrosanct.


If you have kids, this is a great way to spend some awesome family time. Have everyone hang out in the kitchen as you prep dinner. Throw on some music. Dance. Get silly. Try something new, don’t be afraid to really move. A Spotify (or similar service) account works well here, because you can create playlists and just throw them on when needed.

I’m partial to the “A to Z of African Dance” YouTube video. Great beat, great dancing, and it’ll give you some good ideas to try that provide a good workout.

Go Creek Walking

Don’t have a creek at hand? Apologies. If you do, however, I want you to visit it at least once a week for the next month—and spend at least an hour during each visit traveling up and down it, jumping from rock to rock, balancing on logs, wading through the water, squatting down to look for crawdads (or crayfish) and frogs and salamanders (but definitely not newts), sprinting up banks, crawling, lifting heavy rocks and logs. It’s a great opportunity to get a variety of movement patterns, expose yourself to nature, and get some barefoot time.

Make the World Your Playground

No matter where you live, the environment offers a wide variety of options for movement, play, and exercise.

Trees: Climb them, do pull-ups on the branches, do handstand pushups against the trunk.

Stairs: Run them, jump them, bear crawl up and down them.

Park Benches: Jump over them, crawl on the back, balance on the back.

Hills: Roll down them then sprint back up.

Traffic Lights: pull-ups, sprint across intersections (when green).

Curbs: Treat like balance beams, do calf raises (or stretches) off the edge, single leg hops up and down.

Target (Store): Hurdle and climb those big red balls they have at the entrance (beware of dirty looks from parents whose kids try to emulate you).

Everything is an opportunity for movement and exercise. You just have to be willing to stand out.

I’d say make the local playground your playground, but certain cities have strict laws against adults using playgrounds without children. Too bad.

Still, know you can always add workout “toys” to your own the backyard (or a willing friend’s if you don’t have one yourself). The slackline has been one such piece of play equipment for me. Check it out. 

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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346 thoughts on “10 Ideas to Make Workouts More Fun”

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  1. I do ballroom dance for at least an hour most days, and my Fitbit tells me to get up once per hour and do something…weights, squats, pushups etc. I ignore it more than I should though.

  2. I let my kids lead the way. I chase them around the yard, do bears crawls, swing on the gymnastics rings, walk the balance beam, etc. Whatever they are doing I will take part. The variety of activities allows me to get in an excellent workout most days.

  3. Dance parties with my school-age daughter are a superb way for us to exercise, but even more than that, they help us unwind and laugh (I have some excellent moves). It’s a struggle sometimes to get exercise in as I am a working, single mom, but I also go for runs during her soccer practice and warm-up for games.

    When she was a toddler, she hated it when I would do lunges when we were walking on trails, and I disliked how slow she was moving, so I would do lunges to get her to charge up to me. I would make a goal of 250 lunges per walk. Now on hikes, I have to jog sometimes to keep up with her (and get ready for carrying her the last 0.5 mile).

    During the week, I sometimes feel bored, but I find a change in routine keeps me going. And as a former collegiate and elite athlete, I find sticking to exercise do-able, ie when that voice inside my head tells me not to exercise (that voice never fully goes away for me), I don’t listen to it. The bonus is that I do listen to going easy on myself when I need to (something I used to not do), and that improves dedication.

  4. I setup obstacle courses for my son and I to do at the park. My son and I also play games where we have to find trails in bushes and hiding places under them. We have to pretend to gather food to eat, etc. It’s a great time and it helps me to increase my flexibility(Climbing through bushes is hard for an adult but not a 6 year old!)

  5. I enjoy running for its own sake, even though I can’t run fast or long. In fact, just doing anything that I feel like doing is easier for me to maintain that trying to stick to a schedule. I just want to be healthy, I don’t need to get ripped or win any races.

  6. Just saw you for the first time, and am eager to learn more from your website. For fun, I swim with my grandkids, walk around our neighborhood with my husband, take care of my roses, dance in the kitchen, park far from the store and walk. I’ve lost 60 lbs on Keto, and now I can do all these things that I haven’t been able to do for many years. I’m feeling younger every day.

  7. I turn house-cleaning-time into full-on solo-dance-party-time. A bit tricky when washing dishes, but hey, trying to avoid accidentally smashing everything makes for great hand- eye coordination training! It’s even more fun (and agility-testing) if I have to dodge the Roomba in between pirouettes.

    Bouldering with my husband is also fun and playful, and even somewhat competitive (I can’t deny feeling a bit smug when I send a V5 he’s been struggling with…hehe).

  8. I walk/hike every day and listen to my favorite true crime podcasts. I make it a game so that whenever the host says (insert word of day here – murder, body, suspect, etc) I do (insert plyo move of the day – jump squat, push-up, squat, etc). It has completely changed my attitude about going for long daily walks because 1) I get to listen to a fave podcast and 2) it elicits fun stares from fellow hikers/walkers/drivers) 🙂

  9. I turn house-cleaning time into solo-dance-party time! Trying to avoid smashing the dishes while washing/shimmying around takes a lot of hand-eye coordination, and prancing over the Roomba in between pirouettes requires lots of agility. Before I know it, the house is clean, and I’m practically euphoric!

    I also enjoy bouldering with my husband, and won’t deny a bit of competitive instinct bubbling up here and there that adds to the fun. It’s also fun to cheer on someone you love, share beta, and experience the joy of sending a tough problem (even vicariously).

    (P.S. I tried posting a similar comment earlier, but didn’t see it. So, this might be a repeat….)

  10. Some three-year-old throws do me well. My son loves it, and after ten squat-throw-catch reps, there isn’t much of me that isn’t burning.

  11. Besides new things to do (dance class, gymnastics, cycling , hiking in new areas), my favorite is to find activities my spouse and/or kids are interested in. I find that besides the interaction with them physically, the personal interaction with them is priceless. Pick up soccer game with older daughters, scooter with son (despite I fear activities where sketchy wheels are underneath me), a gym class together, a road race, playing in the pool etc. These are all instances that increase our physical activity but more importantly give us time as a family unit to bond and grow even closer to each other This provides them with a positive interaction with a parent and sets an example to carry further into generations.

  12. I started indoor rock climbing last year to replace some of my weight lifting sessions. It is so much fun and you can see easily your progress as you get better. It is a motivator to keep your weight down as that directly contributes to success. I found a gym that has auto-belays which means I can go by myself whenever convenient. I usually climb two times a week for two hours and by the time I am done, I can’t hold onto the wall anymore. It’s a great workout!

  13. I am a naturally playful person. I do a lot on the list above. The best part about going to the grocery store for me is riding a shopping cart like a skateboard to and from the entrance!

  14. Wrong again on cockfighting lol. Humans were violent because humans are greedy and dumb. If all humans jumped off bridges, would you? I wouldnt. Im 32 and very calm and controlled, i feel no need to fight. The world needs less violence, not more.

    1. I must say that I’m a very calm, controlled person without a criminal history, but taking martial arts in order to kick a few things definitely helps me on the calm parenting front. Since I leave a few times a week to get my aggression out in healthy ways, it makes me a lot less likely to, erm, kick my offspring or husband :-).

  15. I love building/maintaining local hiking and mtb trails. Lifting, and moving rocks, sculpting dirt, and then riding them! It’s also a great source of community connection.

  16. I take my two oldest kids (7 and 5) out on the paddleboard early on Saturday mornings. We paddle to an island about 1/2 mile offshore and eat breakfast on the beach out there. On the way over they take turns swimming alongside and riding the board while I paddle. I get in plenty of work paddling and balancing the board with the extra load of the kids. They get plenty of work by swimming. Then on the way back from the island we play a game of trying to all stand and balance in a quarter squat on the board for as long as we can until we all fall off. It gets plenty of glute and quad burn going!

  17. Who ever is last to get in the car gets locked out and has to do a dance before we unlock the doors to let them in. This is not only fun and movement, but it makes it a race to get to the car when we are in a busy parking lot as some of us lack any semblance of rhythm.

  18. Don’t feel too bad about missing out on martial arts Mark … I have two screws in my foot due to a sparring session years ago, and my son (who ended up being off-the-charts talented) once sparred against an opponent many years older and more experienced than him who I think was trying to establish himself as the alpha male, did a spinning back kick (very deadly if it lands) and hit my son in one of his ear’s, sending him to the ground. His ear swelled up immediately, a couple of inches over to his temple would have killed him. He in turn one day was sparring with a guy twice his size, who walked right into one of my son’s punches, breaking his nose, he was taken to the hospital and had reconstructive nasal surgery. Once as a beginner I was in another state on an assignment, went to a local dojo, the fifth degree black belt instructor with 20 years experience proceeding to kick the tar out of me, basically giving me a merciless beating. I pulled off the gear they provided me, slammed it to the ground, told him he was a disgrace to the martial arts, and left the facility. In my youth I was in Judo, one day I threw a guy to the mat, he could not get up and ended up injuring his spine and had to quit the sport. I felt awful. I’ve never done Tai Chi but that’s what I would recommend LOL. You could take up krav maga if you just want to be a bad a** and skip all the forms and learning about the culture, meditation etc.

  19. Wakesurfing (since we are in Dallas- and far from the ocean)- its a great balance workout and cardio. Its all the fun parts of surfing with a perfect (although) man-made wave! The kids love it, the older people love it- its a heck of a workout, but it is so fun that you forget that it is work!

  20. I kayak all the time when the ice is off the lakes. I got an Oru kayak which I love because it’s easy to transport (in the trunk of a compact car) and to use. It takes me a half hour to go from living room to floating and a half hour back so it doesn’t take a lot of time to fit in an hour’s paddling. I tend to put off any outdoor exercise that takes to much time and fuss to get everything ready to go.

  21. I like to bike to the park with my kiddos and use the park equipment as my “gym”. Going across the monkey bars, using them to do pull-ups. Making the equipment to be our own “Ninja Warrior” course. Not only do we work up a good sweat we make memories and have a good time. Never did I think I’d be the mom doing all that!

  22. I get bored so easily doing routines so I really have to mix it up and be creative or I start dreading the workouts. I try to play games and set mini goals along with adding little moves at the office like chair dips and lunges when no one is looking.

  23. It’s never to late to start jiu-jitsu. I know plenty of people over the age of 40 that have started and love it.

    Something I do with my kids to incorporate exercise is to turn the house into an obstacle course. I find things they need to climb over, crawl under, jump over, etc. They get a kick out of it and don’t realize they are exercising.

  24. Thanks for the reminders. I just started working in an office for the first tine in my life and my activity level has plunged. I’m going to set a reminder in my phone after I eat lunch to walk or move around somehow outside for 15 minutes, whether it’s a break, talking to clients, or phone calls while I walk. I already have a few mobility tools at work. I may bring in a small kettlebell.

  25. I love to slack-line as well!

    My main source of play exercise is wrestling and racing with my two boys! Loads of fun and sometimes end up sore.

  26. I do what I call “Return Reps”. Whenever we return to the firehouse from a run or from training, I do max reps of one of the primal essential movements. We average 15 or more runs a day so they add up! They’re a great stress reliever too.

  27. I found a great AND fun workout is to have your 6 yr old son define the Ninja Warrior “Course” on the park playground and see who can complete it faster…harder than you might think and a VERY gruling workout after round 4 or 5…

  28. I love spending time throwing a ball for my dog Odin… I use a Chuck-it, throw the ball and then he and I race to see who can get to it first. He only loses when I cheat and send him in the wrong direction to give myself a head start, or if a squirrel happens across our yard.

  29. my gym time is a great stress reliever but my hikes at the end of the day with my husband and three dogs are rewarding and not at all like a work out.

  30. I take my children to a playground (we do all the usual activities like tag) but I also use the playground equipment to do a workout (pullups with a 4 year old hanging on to my feet), chasing them with handstand walks, dips on the catwalks, or butterflies while they’re on the swing!

  31. With the grandkids, I find leading by example makes “workouts” fun for them…whether it is cycling, hiking, yoga, Russian twists, or anything else. We can make anything fun!

  32. Dance parties with my kiddos and sneaking a turn on their trampoline are my favorites. We’d love a slackline and put it to good use!

  33. I like cutting trees with had tools – axes, hand saws, etc. There is great satisfaction in seeing s big tree get chopped into kindling and logs all from my own efforts.

  34. Barefoot semi-parkour running through parks and city, using curbs as balance beams, running on bridge railings, doing combat rolls down hills, pull-ups and swinging/climbing on playground, hurdling tennis nets, pull-ups on trees, etc. It’s great fun.

  35. My favorite way to play with my almost 7 year old son is on neighborhood playgrounds. The bigger, the better since he is super fast!
    My question is how can we encourage a movement toward more adult sized playgrounds and obstacles along side kiddo stuff? I am a tall mom and end up with knots and lumps running into kid sized equipment. Yes, the short answer is to be more aware and agile, I get that. But I would so love to see some playgrounds include adult sized fun(and it would seriously challenge/encourage children to conquer them).

  36. I go paddleboarding with my dog and son. I raise my son over my head doing a few sets then hold my dog while doing some squat sets after we get out to the middle of the lake. Gets the whole family on water and gets a little workout in at the same time!

  37. I just Play…and get my kids and grandkids playing with me.
    My favorite new favorite…paddle boarding with the grandkids.

  38. I have a very large vegetable garden that I use to help keep my sanity. Even though I try to hit the gym 4x per week, when out in the garden, Im often doing air squats, just squatting pulling weeds for as long as I can stand it, push ups in the grass, toe raises on the steps to my chicken coop, etc. Just a little extra to help me feel like I accomplished a bit extra.

  39. I love to play! My daughter is 7 and I have been teaching her and bringing her along on some of my favorite play – golf, roller skating, ice skating, snowboarding, kayaking, bicycling, hiking in nature and swimming. She’s also learning to play basketball, soccer and now tennis. Its been so fun teaching her how being active is fun. She’s pretty much lost all interest in media of any kind, yay! I love that we can share activities that we both enjoy, are healthy for us and give us a great boost of endorphins.

    Now that I’ve trained her to be so active, I am on the hunt for a group to get involved with for myself. Thanks for keeping it real with your goals!

  40. I am a desk jockey for work. But I use an app on my computer that dims my screen and freezes my cursor every 30 minutes for 2 minutes. IT forces me to stop and get up and move. I love my stability ball…easy to keep close and I lay backwards over it…spine to the surface and l put my hands on floor behind me …its a supported yoga back bend posture. I then recruit my core and roll around..you need a strong core to keep from falling off! I can feel and literally hear my spine relaxing and it is the opposite posture of sitting at my desk. I althernate that with waling around or swinging a kettlebell.

    I also garden! As in: it is a full body, barefoot and no gloves contact sport. My 1/2 acre garden is my cross fit gym: digging, swinging a pick axe, hefting bags of compost; pushing wheelbarrows, tug-of-war with weed pulling, reaching high to prune trees/pick fruit, on my belly crawling under shrubs and Savasana post on the lawn afterwards. I get sun, wind, rain, birdsong, barefoot ground walking, VIt D, dirt under my fingernails and the ultimate payoff of home grown fruit and veg.

  41. So glad that you special mentioned martial arts. I’ve lost 85+ pounds in the last year. Started with gardening regularly (plus uphill sprints), added Choi Kwong Do, and most recently practice Krav Maga. The special Krav Maga Fight “class” is my absolute favorite opportunity for play. It’s relaxed and respectful but also gives me the opportunity to test my skills and limits.

  42. We live in a very hilly neighborhood. I walk every day, unless it is raining hard, for about a half hour, with a walking staff.

  43. In my 20’s I used to race elevators. Whoever I was with would press the up button and if the elevator wasn’t waiting on the ground floor off I’d go up the stairwell, with my headstart being the time it took for the elevator to arrive at G to start the ride up. Winning 6-7 flight races was common and I came close a couple of times in 12 floor races, but it was fun and a great workout outside of the gym.

  44. I make it a rule to never go to bed without doing my 10,000 steps!

  45. I like to also add in play time with our dogs. Chasing them and having them chase us is a great way to work on reactions, changing directions. Plus the adrenaline from them chasing us is helpful. We also like to throw a ball and try to beat my dog to it. Even a little “wrestling” is added in a crouched/quadruped position trying to grab the dogs paws while not letting the dog mouth my hands. Fun/exercise for all!

  46. In addition to following the lead of my three-year-old and doing what he does in our living room dance parties (his breakdancing is not easy to copy as a 35-year-old man…), he also likes to copy my training. So helping him with dips, chin ups, push ups, ab wheel roll-outs, sprints and kung fu becomes a very physical extra pursuit for me as I’m supporting much of his weight most of the time – while laughing!

  47. i do martial arts and i call it my “play”… 🙂 i teach kids, too, and the first rule i have them recite is to “have fun!” good luck in your journey, and let us know how it goes!

  48. Don’t give up on martial arts. I train jiu jitsu semi regularly in my 40s and have been in classes with guys in their 50s and 60s. If you find the right gym, the pace can be as intense or relaxed as you want it to be. The key is making sure you find a place that has recreational students and not just super competitive guys.

    It has been a great experience for me (3 years in) and I highly recommend it to everyone!

  49. I LOVED gymnastics as a younger person. I danced through most of my high school years and cheered. Having to exercise was torcher for me. I did it because I was supposed to…..ya know that didn’t work! So now I’ve found Barre3 and LOVED it so at the age of 49 I decided to become an instructor and share my passion. Three years later I’m still going strong with this love of movement.

  50. In the ‘wait moments’ making the morning drink (boiling water, heating milk, coffee brewing) I do some assisted squats: with my fingers gently hooked over the edge of the sink (it removes the balance issue) I do 30 squats, about the amount of time it takes for my morning drink to be ready!

  51. I’ve done silly “break dance” moves for my kids in the kitchen since they were toddlers. They later started requesting kitchen dance parties! Now, at 7 and 9, they are so good at freestyle dancing that they led their classes at end of the school year dance ceremonies!

  52. Play with your kids! It takes a lot of energy to keep up with them, and as they try new things, you can too! This keeps your body “confused” and stimulated. Over the years I’ve played with them on the “jungle gym”, done tumbling, biking, rollerblading, rip-sticking, bowling, tennis, basketball, volleyball, running, swimming, and most recently pole vaulting. Every time I follow my kids into something new, I find myself sore in new ways as I’m activating muscles that I wasn’t previously using. When I was younger, I made a conscious effort to stay active so that I’d be in good enough shape to be able to do things with my kids, and what I’ve found is that as I participated in the things that my kids did those activities really helped keep me in good shape.

  53. My friends and I have the couch wrestling championships and a match can break out at any moment. We are very stubborn and refuse to stop until somebody taps. Both guys are completely exhausted and whatever room we are in is mostly destroyed.

  54. I have three dogs, so we chase each other by playing tag. Lots of fun and he dogs are really good at it! We also chase and catch leaves in the fall. Anytime I am with my dogs, it does not seem like exercise.

  55. Chasing my dog when we do walks. She has a tendency to get way ahead of me so running after her or if she isn’t watching sprinting away from in the opposite direction so she has to sprint to catch up (and get a treat).

  56. I love that you added martial arts here!! Brazilian jiu jitsu is the best thing I have ever done for myself. It helped me improve my stamina, lift heavy things (people!), became a great kind of puzzle when sparring, and to learn self defense (a great skill to have as a woman!), It’s my favorite kind of exercise, and it motivates me to try other forms of exercise as well. Not to mention, it has improved my stress levels greatly. It fits so well with the primal blueprint lifestyle, and the diet with this lifestyle makes it easier for me to train my art!

  57. My favourite ways to add play into my gym classes is to do things as a group, or with a partner

    Some of my favourite games include, hopefully people reading the comments can use them;
    Zen archery, a game of spinal movement, balance, body control, improvisation, mobility. In the game, one partner has a stick, they must slowly move the stick and the other partner must avoid the stick and not get hit by it
    Tag, a simple boxing game without getting punched in the face, a game of balance, distance, awareness, footwork, cardio. Simply tag your partners shoulders and not get tagged yourself

    Both these games can be done infinitely with a combination of rules and constraints

    A quick google of these games and you’ll be set for the play element in your workouts

  58. I love hiking with my dogs. I get to enjoy the fresh air, nature, and the company of my pups all at once. So much more fun though than just taking them for a walk… I love watching them explore their surroundings.

  59. As a former baseball player I like to go to the batting cage. not many folks realize how swinging a bat can be a total body workout along with keeping the hand/eye coordination. Also, as a golfer, along with my rounds of golf which I walk, I enjoy hitting balls at the range, once again using many muscles.

  60. Due to health issues, I’ve been way too sedentary for way too long. I’m working to correct those issues, but I find that the things I used to think were fun, aren’t so fun anymore. I am reconnecting with my love of boxing, but it’s frustrating to tire out so quickly. I’ve noticed a severely diminished ability to find balance, which I am also working on.

  61. Nothing beats trampoline dodge ball!

    Get a group of friends, family, colleagues, whomever and find the nearest tournament or pickup game near you. You’ll be shocked at how much fun it is, and how sore you are the next day. It works muscles I never knew existed.

  62. I try to follow the children (2 legged and 4). If the 4 legs chase after a squirrel, I sprint until I catch up (thankfully the squirrels find the nearest tree). If the 2 legged climb and walk on fallen trees, I follow. I believe it keeps me agile AND lately we’ve started challenging each other with our balancing skills!

  63. We have started taking walk breaks at work in the morning and afternoons. it is not 10 minute per hour but it is a start. I would love to try your slack line. I think it is something I could get my whole family interested in challenging each other.

  64. For me there is no better exercise than playing with my dog. Tug of war, keep away or just plain wrestling. She gets me off the couch!

  65. Don’t pick me. 🙂 I already bought a slackline because of you. I love it and it is very popular with friends when we BBQ.

  66. my play as exercise are included as suggestions from Mark, but I put on music and dance with abandon around my apartment, I sprint around in the park with my dog (who doesn’t understand fetch, but does understand sprinting), and I plank at the end of the floating dock where I like to gaze at the clouds and water. bonus if it’s wavy and makes my planking more challenging! all of these things made an appearance in my life when I was thinking of ways to be more primal in my movement. the spontaneity brings much more fun and satisfaction as well!

  67. I clean my barn. Not only do I get to hang out with the animals, when I am done, I get to ride my horse (which is also exercise but the best treat in the world!)

  68. I was lucky I found a slackline guru who taught me the ropes
    He saw me messing with the line, doing a gazillion of errors starting with the way I was tying it to the tree (I even had it with the ratchet reversed). The funny thing is that you look it up in youtube and you see it done wrong in many videos.
    First: learn to tie it correctly, ratchet it the strongest you can
    Second: Do not start in the middle, Remember this mantra:
    Stand on the line, facing the tree and hug it, and try to get your hands of the tree, looking for longer times
    Third: when you are better at step two, now you can start your training trying to walk some steps
    The sewing-machine syndrome will get better with time, don’t give up
    My current level of expertise is this: I can walk the 15m slackline without falling, I am working on doing the turn (have done it some times, but not consistently).
    The other thing I am practicing is walking sideways (much more difficult)
    And every time I finish my practice trying to juggle three balls, but the progress has been almost zero on that (may get 5 throws at most)

    1. This is fascinating and helpful, I always hoped to get and set-up a slackline. But had no idea about a specific way tying or about Hug the Tree … Thanks!

  69. Here in Southern NM, a hike through the desert with my kids and dogs is always a fun workout. This time of year we just need to head out early in the day!

  70. On family vacations we make a commitment to be up and out at sunrise and at a designated location. (arrived at by any non motorized means) Sometimes it’s easy other days not so much especially if your not up and out in time and have to hustle to the designated spot. Whatever it’s always fun and easy on the return trip.

  71. I love salsa dancing! I’ve been doing it for over 7 years. I danced for hours on end, the time just flies. You don’t need a partner or any special equipment or any workout clothes. Most places have lessons before the social begins. Great community.

  72. I hike and seek with my family at a state park, we each hike into different areas of the park to start and try not to be found or caught; we hike, sprint, climb rocks, wade in the stream and hide where ever trying to keep clear of anyone in our party that comes near. We spend two to five hours at a time a couple times every week and boy is it a workout. Love it!

  73. My favourite “play outs” are pickup ball hockey and golf. The ball hockey is a pretty intense workout, especially when fewer guys show up and we don’t have substitutes. Golf is less intense, but I get to spend a lot of time with the trees 8=) while taking a 6-8 km hike.

    Lately I’ve started kayaking as well during the summer months.

  74. Mine reflects a busy lifestyle. I seem to spend more and more time standing in line. Instead of internal fuming, I use my time productively by raising myself up on my toes and rocking back on my heels, as many times as it takes for the line to shorten or until my calf muscles scream! If the line doesn’t seem to be moving I change to breathing in as deeply as I can, holding my tummy muscles in, and my buttocks tight. Suddenly the line disappears without my noticing!

  75. I stick to playtime with my kids running around, playing horse, making them fly and work heavy lifting job. Slack line looks fun just never had chance to afford it play with it. Bet kids would love it. So new ideas to try

  76. While chopping wood for my fire place, I like to pick up the logs and throw them into my wood shed basketball chest-pass style and aim for targets. I also like to pick up logs and do a few primal squats.

  77. To try to make sure I exceed my steps target and have fun at the same time I give my dog a treat outside and tell him I’m going to get it. At this he takes off running around the lake out back and I pretend to chase him. The boy literally waits for me to catch up before taking off again. He also enjoys a good race up and down the stairs in the house.

  78. Rock climbing! I have been obsessed for years, it is fun, social, competitive and a functional workout. It gets you problem solving, experimenting and even outside too if there is some topography near you.

    I went from no upper body strength and no motivation to be strong to being able to do pull ups, control my core like never before and am continuously seeking to be stronger, more flexible and protect my joints for many years of climbing to come.

  79. Gardening!
    I relish playing in my garden daily, squats while weeding, heavy lifts of 40-50 pounds of mix and fertilizer, vitamin D morning inspections for weeds and pests, hoeing using both hands (great for the brain), push mowing around my raised beds and turning my compost pile. I take a walk afterward.

    In addition, my new hand-built cold frames have me eating more green smoothies in the wintertime from my kale and chard gardening. I really like that I am outdoors more to care for my veggies instead of on the couch under a quilt.

    Watching the magic of a seed turn into something edible is incredible.

  80. Fun for kids and adults. I bought colorful pom pom balls, hundreds of them and randomly throw them all over. The first part of the game is squatting down to pick them up and tossing at another person, running to avoid being hit. Part two of this exercise game is running around picking them up by color to your own bucket or bag. It’s all about the chase to get as many as you can. Between color calls I add a body weight activity. Lots of fun

  81. Well, I am way overweight and shy, I don’t like doing outdoor activities cause I got stared at often. So, I just do the boring treadmill at home but I would do it in front of my TV, streaming an action movie to distract me from the boring activity. Guess what, hour and a half later, I would be done with the movie, done with brisk walking on the treadmill and feeling great (I meant totally exhausted!). Hopefully, I will get healthier soon and get to do some outdoor activities without shame.

    1. Andrew W., there should never be shame in getting out there and living your best life. You’re on your way with any workout or activity you choose. Grok on – M

  82. I love to hike and walk anywhere there are trees: our orchard, down the road, trails in the area. I also try to just enjoy the outside work I do in our garden and orchard.

  83. I love taking sinking pool toys and throw them into the deep end of the swimming pool (8ft). I will then have to swim the length of the pool and dive down to pick them all up. Extra points if I can get all 15 of them in one dive.

  84. I love to do 15 minute Pilates Challenges in the morning and get whoever is in the house to join with me! I also like to just focus on being energetic and playful, staying bouncy in my steps when I go places. When around the house, my family tries to focus on doing as many active tasks rather than sitting as possible.

  85. I like to add reps of exercises into the ‘boring’ daily tasks! While I brush my teeth, I do air squats (although it took some practice keeping all the toothpaste on the toothbrush while moving)! When washing dishes, add calf raises!

    Separately, in meeting new people, I use an alliteration device where I make up a movement corresponding to their name so I can better remember their name. Kimberlee (do a Kick in the air!); Hector (do a High five); Brad (do a Burpee). Normally, I do the movement AFTER I meet the person…but if I can tell they are as active/quirky as me, I’ll do the movement and they join me! 🙂

  86. Hi Mark!

    My partner and I like to go our for Sprint sessions and chasing each other. There’s something more exciting and motivating about chasing after or being chased by another human. You definitely run faster. We also incorporate a thick band to wrap around the both of us. One person pulls the ‘sleigh while the other has fun resisting.

    Now my question for you is how do you make recovery and rehab playful? We are always trying to dutifully roll out or go through mobility exercises to support our activity but inevitably it gets skipped. How can we make this more fun?

  87. Kids are a great organic weight set that grow naturally as you get stronger. Make them plank then bench press them. They grab your wrist for some curls. They sit on your back while you plank… Good fun for all. When they start getting too big, the process of making more of these exercise tools is good, fun exercise as well.

  88. I love meeting my friend for hot yoga. When I don’t have that much time, I’ll do yoga at home with my daughter. It’s a lot more fun with someone else.

  89. Playing table tennis with college athletes 50+ years younger.

  90. I buy a Groupon for a different activity or gym each month so I can keep mixing up my activities and try new ones to see if I can find a new favorite. Tomorrow is my first boxing class.

  91. My son turns the local jungle-gym into a variety of crazy adventures – pirate ship, space ship, army base – and we run, climb and play-fight our way to saving the world. At three he knows that keeping fit is important and he often asks when he gets to come to the gym with me and “workout” – I tell him we just did!! You’re 100% right. Play is the BEST kind of workout, both for the body and soul. Be goofy, fall over, jump, climb, swing and save the world (even if only in the eyes of your kids!).

  92. We live 2 blocks from a school so taking long, indirect walks with the kids to the playground is a pretty easy way to get in a little “fun” exercise. 🙂

  93. When my kids were babies I would put them in the baby carrier on me and go for a lot of walks, do lunges and even lift hand weights while wearing them! Now that they are older we enjoy making homemade obstacle courses on our driveway with sidewalk chalk. We make different routes, draw circles for lakes to jump over, and bear crawl or skip some of the way. They love when I get out a timer and they can race each other to see who can do it the fastest!

  94. My 11 year old son is on a quest to become an “American Ninja Warrior.” His 7 year old sister is now determined as well (she can’t let her big brother outdo her). So we have set up a TRX, Olympic rings, and straps with handles for pull ups. I turn on some good 80’s hair metal and the three of us go to town trying whatever exercises we can find on youtube between air guitar solos. We throw in some rotations of sprints on the erg for some total body cardio as well after the free body exercising. Great total body workout for core conditioning and balance, with minimal impact on your joints, but great fitness results.

  95. I was a swimmer as a child and swam on swim teams for close to 10 years. I have just started swimming again at 64 years old and I love it. I swim laps which doesn’t sound like fun but it is for me! My husband and I also play catch as we unload groceries. We challenge ourselves by standing on one foot or hiking groceries between our legs to each other as we put them in the fridge or pantry. We don’t toss the eggs, though.

  96. We have tons of fun playing tennis, basketball, and frisbee! We also love walking & hiking outdoors. We don’t think of exercise as drudgery; it makes us happy and keeps us healthy!

  97. Don’t forget rebounding…jumping on a trampoline. Try it while singing, laughing as long as you can, as in Laughter Yoga, for no reason but to laugh!

  98. My son loves playing tag or hide and seek-can be done anywhere! It’s the simple activities that can be very fun….

  99. Love this article and think there’s a lot that could apply to kids as well. So much of what you say echoes my own thoughts and things I’m wondering about. Very timely.

  100. Dancing galore for me! I love to dance…at home, with friends, after work, on the weekends. It’s fun, gets the body moving, and never gets old!

  101. When I see my niece, she usually screams, “swing me!” I think her middle name should be “kettlebell”.

  102. For nearly 20 years my hubby and I were just doing the general treadmill of wake up, work, eat, sleep 5 days a week. Weekends were for housework and watching TV, and more eating/drinking. Then in 2000, we decided to get bicycles. What followed was a change of giant proportions.

    We found that we enjoyed the outdoors on our bikes immensely. We cycled in areas around us that we never even knew existed. We joined a social cycle group and rode new paths, made friends and had a ball. It wasn’t exercise to us, it was pure enjoyment, something we could do together.

    18 years later, our love affair with cycling is still there, and I do believe that the shared common experience of riding our bikes together has given our marriage a stronger bond.

    For myself, I don’t like running, and while walking is ok and I do enjoy it, cycling for me is by far more pleasurable, as I can get to see much more scenery cycling than walking.

    So yes, I agree, if one is to succeed in getting enough ‘exercise’…. then it must be something that is a pleasure to do.

  103. I use my 7 year old son as a weight for pushups, chest press, leg extensions, leg lifts and we are finding new ways as we go. He absolutely loves it for some reason and we both have a lot of fun. 🙂

  104. Well my fun workout is the Beach Sledgehammer
    It has become a Sunday ritual in Miami Beach
    It has three levels:
    The 12 lbs sledgehammer, good to teach newbies, do three sets of 20 hits (10 left, 10 right)
    The 16 lbs sledgehammer, good for anyone, do three sets of 20 hits (10 left, 10 right)
    The 20 lbs sledgehammer, good for professionals only, do three sets of 16 hits (8 left, 8 right)

  105. I ride my bike as fast as I can to the nearby park. I swing high on the swings to relieve my stress from the day. Every whoosh makes me feel calmer and calmer . I’m able to get my daily primal dose of sunshine too. Next I do 3 cartwheels in a row on the soft playground floor , handstands against playground rock walls , and lastly pull ups on the monkey bars ! I absolutely love your books and website. I would love to try slackline and your primal food products . Btw, I’m a 49 year old public school teacher and mom of 2 teens! Your primal blueprint has helped me stay young in my mind and enjoy my life to the fullest! Thank you ! Janet S.

  106. In March I decided to take a leap and jump into MovNat Lv 1 and 2 certs to add to our wellness coaching nurse and midwifery business Womb to Tomb Wellness LLC…couldn’t be happier with how the perspective shift has taken our martial arts school and our personal life practices deeper into play. Ground based flow movements, vaulting over random railings and tree branches, and popups have transformed my local environment for me where I had been feeling stuck in a rut with movement. Now we’re excited to have an entire new paradigm to share with our 7-12 year old little ninjas as well as our 50 year old adult students and clients!

    Thanks for all the words of wisdom and inspiration Mark and Team…I need to get on writing a success story that I’ve been procrastinating on for 2 years:)!

  107. We like to have water balloon fights or swim and run at the beach near our house! We have lots of fires in the backyard so my mother got us a badminton net and rackets so we can play while it’s still light enough and when it gets darker we kick around a ball or dance/chase each other with sparklers ? I get some of my sprints in while running away from the water balloons sailing past my head!!

  108. I enjoy turning interval running training into a great play session with my pup Sparrow. I throw the ball out in front towards my sprinting direction and she chases me there to beat me to the ball back and forth.

  109. Love jumping on the trampoline with or without my kids! There is nothing like the look of amazement on my sons face when I land a crazy flip or even better the look I get when my neighbors see me jumping on the trampoline alone in my boxers at 5:30a?

  110. I take the long way to work, so I can walk through the park but also run up and down the steps everyday. I get some exercise and scenery into my city work day.

  111. I do crunches/ab work every time I am at a stoplight or downshift in my (stick shift) car. I just pull my abdomen/belly button in as hard as I can and hold, then release and do it again. I also squat the entire time I brush my teeth.

  112. When I clean house, I always put on music and do as much dancing/singing as I do cleaning.

  113. I paddle around in a boat in our pond scooping up duckweed?, dance party (complete with strobe lights) with granddaughter, and I try to do pull-ups and upper body exercises on the swing set. (Yes, I did say TRY ?)

  114. Very cool Mark; as I have gotten a little older (51) I have noticed some very subtle hints that my balance isn’t quite what it used to be. This would be a fun thing to do to help with that.

  115. I have been practicing and instructing Martial Arts for 30 years. In addition to this I have started doing Mov Nat workouts and really enjoy throwing big rocks around in the backyard, climbing trees and moving my body when ever I can. It is actually so random I am beginning to think I need to start focusing some of my workouts towards goals…. but the randomity is half the fun. : )

  116. I believe the easiest way to make workouts more fun is to make sure that I am triggering my survival instinct.

    For example, on the weekends, I like to put on my running shoes and hit a few high school parties in the area. If I’m lucky, the cops with show up and we all run like hell. I guarantee you won’t get a more authentic sprint out of yourself in your life.

    Similarly, ding-dong ditch is fun way to test your agility, while also getting some good speed work in. I’ve heard so-so things about being chased by animals. But, I’m sure it produces a similar level of output.

    Lastly, I would have to echo Mark’s piece on martial arts. While organized martial arts classes/memberships are spectacular, they may be too expensive for a lot of people. For a large portion of my life, I have maintained a consistent martial arts practice, free of charge. The right combination of obscenities will convince just about anyone into a little midday sparring session. I’ve had pretty good success in local watering holes over the years … particularly those with 1980’s light beer signs hanging outside. Dead giveaway.

  117. I have a Saturday afternoon elementary school kids “running” club. Rather than do distance running the way adults do, I tell them to roll down a grass hill, climb onto big rocks, play tag and hide and seek on a trail in the woods. I give them swim noodles and tell them to make noise: they battle and chase each other. I have them create obstacle courses for each other. I love that they come up with their own ideas when given the freedom to do so.

  118. A huge part of getting me to the gym everyday is wearing a mash up of creative outfits. I lay a few choices out the night before before and put my designated “costume” on as soon as I get up in the morning. It keeps every day fresh and once I’ve got my armor on there’s no question of “to go or not to go”. I love wearing just the right mix of obnoxious and super comfortable. It’s art to me.

  119. I manage a 1/2 acre backyard with an incline. I carry 4 five gallon Home Depot buckets of wood chips up a long flight of stairs in order to mulch the uphill area. I’ve been doing this and have carried over 60 cubic yards of wood chipsets mulch already. Now I finally feel the weight and body fat loss benefits of “lifting heavy things” from Mark Sisson’s book!!

  120. I’m a PE teacher and will often play the games with the students when I’m assisting a class. I’ll get extra cardio in by playing tag with them, or shooting baskets in between classes. If I’m trying out a new game or fitness warmup, I’ll play it myself first. Always a good time!

  121. I love to dance like nobody’s watching! Just let it rip. Great for rainy days when I can’t get outside.

    My favorite way to destress is running up hill or flights of stairs. It takes the anxiety right out of me.

    Walking backwards changes things up to. I love to see the look on people’s faces on the Greenway.

    Thanks for the reminder to have fun!

  122. You mention something a little similar in the article, but I love using my dogs as an excuse to work out. I’ll throw a ball and try to beat them to it or I’ll stalk them around the house (much to their chagrin). Also my Fitbit has encouraged me to be a lot more active. My model tracks your steps, distance walked, calories burned, and stairs climbed. You set your own personal goals for each of those categories and if you meet those goals your stats on the app turn green and confetti comes across the screen. It’s so dopey but I love that confetti enough that it makes me climb flights of stairs.

  123. I walk dogs in my neighborhood. I call them my personal trainers because they need to walk several times a day and some of them push me to keep up with their jogging. They brighten my day with unconditional love and doggy kisses. Bonus: I finally found a way to get paid for exercising.

  124. One day when I took my son to the city park to “play”, I found a fun and challenging activity. The mulch surrounding the playground is bordered with 3-4″ wide plastic retaining-wall type “bricks”. So, I decided to try walking around the top edges to test my balance and coordination. Then, it turned into a game of catch with my son. The first to go was given a head-start, then the chase was on! If you lose your balance and touch the mulch or ground, you have to go back to the start and then roles are switched!

  125. The way I turn exercise into play is by actually finding something I enjoy doing – mixed martial arts. That way, when I exercise, I actually have some kind of goal or objective which makes it more fun!

  126. Some may think I’m a glutton for punishment, but the Primal Community will get it. I actually enjoy training via MAF & MSP! “Primal Endurance,” has basically been my “Training Bible!’ I’m training to qualify for Boston, & simultaneously seeing a steady incline in strength on all compound lifts!

  127. every lunchtime I literally stop drop everything and make it my mission to leave my windowless concrete cell as fast and as stealthily as possible and walk as far and as fast away from the place as possible. the return also is difficult I try to sneak in back to my prison cell unseen and unknown to everyone else that 20mins of victory gets me through the day

  128. I discovered CrossFit gymnastics at the age of 45. I have been working on my handstand walk ever since. I have a gym buddy that is 65 and she and I do it every Wednesday. We practice headstands, handstand pushups, wall walks, cartwheels, reverse cartwheels, one-handed cartwheels, etc. We finish every class with a combination of movements: handstand into forward roll, stand up into a pistol, cartwheel into a backwards roll followed by a one-minute handstand hold. After that we do a metcon with some gymnastics element included. Wednesdays are my favorite workout days becuase they are so fun and challenging! Last weekend I went camping and discovered the Indoboard. I really need to practice on that thing.

  129. I ride my bike to and from work in NYC daily (weather permitting) and thanks to a gracious employer, I take 1 hr everyday for a fasted work out. Each day alternates between a “push” or “pull” set of exercises (*think squats, push press, and dips vs deadlift, pull-ups and rows*). That can get stale so I end every workout with 10-20 minutes of kickboxing. Nothing more fun (or stress-relieving during a hectic workday) that strapping on gloves and throwing punches & kicks until your muscles are exhausted and your lungs are about to explode!

  130. I’m not sure it exactly qualifies as exercise, but something I started doing about a year ago is standing on one leg while brushing my teeth. I have an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer, so I know that when I’ve brushed my teeth, I have also stood on one leg for two minutes. For me, this was a lot more difficult than it sounds, at least in the beginning. When I started, I would alternate feet every thirty seconds, and even then it was challenging. Now, I stand for the full two minutes on one leg without moving, and I rarely have to catch my balance. Around the same time, I also started brushing with my left hand, which is also trickier than it sounds!

    1. …darn, I thought I was the only one doing this 😉

      But it’s awesome isn’t it? It’s also become apparent that my state of balance is directly related to how well I sleep.

  131. This post really resonates with me! I just turned 50 and am in best shape of my life due to Primal Blueprint. So, I have taken to some cool adventures recently such as indoor rock climbing, freediving (breath-hold diving) and parkour. My son loves that I can do these awesome activities with him.

  132. On road runs I pass by a school playground. I stop and go across the monkey bars, do dips on parallel bars, walk a balance beam a couple times, do some bench hops, some incline pushups and balance on a teeter-totter. I finish up with some strides on a walking path. It’s an easy and fun way to get some strength and agility training while on a run – and saves time to boot! If it’s a Saturday sometimes I’ll take some time to sit or lie down on the grass for a few minutes too.

  133. Chase in the backyard with my boys is probably the #1 way right now. I think I want to think more about how to integrate exercise into play across age groups (I have boys who are 1, 4, and 7 right now, so they have different interests/abilities).

  134. My favorite ways to combine play and exercise is to walk/dance around the neighborhood listening to my favorite songs and to see how many reps of an exercise or set of exercises I can complete waiting for a pot to boil. 🙂

  135. mountain biking with the kids is a great way to stay in shape, connect with nature and blow off some steam…

  136. Hi Mark, thanks for the slack line tips. I have been looking to get one. I typically enjoy training HIIT with 36min tabatas with kettle bells, battle ropes, slam balls etc and am always done before the sun comes up. Being in my 60’s like you and an ex-pro athlete I love to mix all my training up and have fun with a downwind racing SUP, an OC1 outrigger, surfing and even have a balance ball I stand on at my stand up desk. My better half thinks I’m a nutter but I am committed to new and fun ways to optimise health and wellness forever. You gotta finish well hey !

  137. I’ve been working my way through Darryl Edwards’ “Animal Moves” book. Great play-based program!

  138. My wife and I turn our walks around the neighborhood into a type of mini sprint workout. Every once in a while, one of us will pick out a landmark about 50 yards out and sprint. I tend to do more sprints so I’ll stop to do dips or pushups on a bench while she walks ahead and then I’ll sprint to catch up.

  139. I chase the dog at the beach and a local soccer field – barefoot, usually kicking a ball. If the dog is tired, I may crawl/ practice ground exercises, or practice martial arts. If I’m walking somewhere, I look for things to climb, jump or balance on, or “Land on that [mark, rock] with my [left, right] foot. I swim and body surf if I feel like it. I used to have a bar at work for pull-ups, but now use other random non-breakable things [stair landings, support beams]

  140. In my home office, throughout the day I am incorporating squats, toe raises, mountain climbers, etc. Occasionally I will add mini-trampoline jumps as well! Plus, I keep three tennis balls at my desk to practice my juggling regularly. When I am out visiting clients, I make sure I park as far away as possible…and always take the stairs! My wife and I have a great walking path in a nearby park and use it 3 to 4 times a week…to walk, talk, pray. The nearby high school track has a nice hill I use for sprints. These provide a nice variety of fun exercises.

  141. I play with my kids outside. We play tag, hide and sick, Nerf gun battles and recently my two boys have been teaching me skateboard tricks. Love it.

  142. I have zero time to “exercise”. I work a desk job 9 hrs/day, go home to a messy house and 3 acres of outside chores that are never done. For my own sanity, it is imperative that I maintain the mindset that yard work is my gym (and therapy). Here’s my workout:
    Weeding – quads and glutes: lunge down to grab weeds and back up to deposit in wheel barrow. Instead of taking the wheel barrow to a close-by composting spot – I push it up a long incline to the “back forty”.
    Mowing – shoulders, arms, back and abs. I have a riding lawn mower – but no bag for the clippings; a rake is excellent for upper body toning.
    Same concept cleaning the house – squats whenever possible, “wax on wax off” doing windows, sprint up the stairs, vacuum with gusto, etc…
    Hey Mark – I have plenty of trees & space for a Slackline. btw, I bought a frisbie and wrote “Marks Daily Apple” on it (ha-ha).

  143. I do GORUCK events and challenge my younger firefighters to come up with skills they want to lean and use those for our PT (exercise) sections.

  144. Whenever I’m simply standing anywhere (grocery line, DMV, cooking, etc.), I always make sure to do some calf raises. I do 10, take a short break, and repeat unitl I can;t continue. Besides firing up my calves, it feels great if you’ve been standing for a long while, and it takes no extra effort to do!

  145. Dance is my number one. I love to let myself go in the music. Dance like no one is watching has got to be one of the most freeing, & ‘playful’ forms of exercise.

    Dance anywhere, anytime, even to the sounds of pots your banging on like a set of drums (or maybe your flatmates are…)

  146. I run over the big bridge and causeway here in Port Orange, Florida. Along the way I do stair running, box jumps on picnic tables, wall vaults and climbs on the bridge walls, pullups on trees, and balance walking on railings.

  147. Coaching the kids baseball team and being really interactive during practice!

  148. My kids have finally gotten comfortable enough on their bikes that I can ride a bike with them. I like to take their bikes to the park and stumble upon a Lime Bike for me to rent. It lights up their day every time, like we’re on an adventure to find “Mommy’s bike” for the day. I could bring my bike from home, but it is way more fun to go on the hunt. Plus, I get to hike it (aka walk at an adult pace) and throw in a few sprints on the way to finding the bike!

  149. Surfing.

    Surfing doesn’t feel like a workout, just my favourite part of the day.

    Being one with the water, feeling the wave. Nothing beats it. I don’t have the budget for a gym membership, but I’m lucky enough to have an old board which thankfully is all you need. It’s something I rush to do, gives life a little more oomf, even a little more meaning.

  150. I have been lizard crawling up the stairs each time I go up, when going down is a lot harder but feels awesome on the spine!

    I love hanging from branches and climbing trees…

    I’ll also pack a Frisbee when going out anywhere, its a super fun way to get sprinting.

    Plus skateboarding everywhere beats walking!

  151. In my early 40s, I took up dodgeball. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I discovered quickly that all that time swinging a kettlebell previously did very little to help me get out of the way of flying objects. Dodging is basically a dynamic series of squats, lunges and jumps with a healthy dose of lateral and twisting movements all tied up in a near perfect HIIT package. Add in some throwing and catching for hand/eye coordination, then mix with some primal yelling for stress release. It’s a fantastic recipe. It’s also very self-motivating since the feedback for slacking off is instantaneous via a fast-moving ball to the face. My stress is down, and I get the extreme pleasure of showing up the 20-year-old jocks now and then. I usually play four or five hours a week these days and am in the best health of my life. Plus I’ve met some great friends along the way!

  152. I ride my bike to play tennis daily. I am 63 and recently retired so started playing tennis but need to keep my core engaged and the slack line looks fun. I do my squats right after I brush my teeth before I leave the bathroom. Sometime holding on the sink so I can get all the way down making sure my knee don’t go over my toes. Also, we do ballroom dance lessons weekly and attend our neighborhood dances. We walk in the neighborhood and chase my grandson when he comes to visit. My husband and I have been primal for about 7 years and love it.

  153. A simple, fun addition to my walks and hikes is to bring along a ball. I use half sized soccer balls and dribble them while hiking, often resulting in a frenzied chase to get it before it heads off a slope or into a stream. Passing the ball by hand or foot with your walking partner adds a fun element and excitement to the evening walk.

  154. Rucking and outdoor adventures ( hiking, hunting) are how I would like to live this style on a regular basis.. It’s always hard to commit with the crazy schedule.. Just gotta do it I guess!!

  155. We have a maple tree that we tied a rope from that we use to climb up like we are ringing the bell. Also have a stump that we put a hay bale on and chuck spears into it. Neighbors think we are a little weird!

  156. I’m a tennis teaching pro and coach, and I love to play and teach tennis. To stay in tennis shape, I hit against a portable backboard in my driveway. It’s a great workout; it really works your legs and aerobic system, and it’s great advertising for tennis in my neighborhood. I also cycle, row, cross-country ski, and strength train with bands and I love using a total gym (both bands and TG are great for not only strength training but also core training which is important in tennis and life)! I pretty much play all day every day!

  157. Exercise has never felt like less of a chore since I discovered partner acrobatics. Now every flat surface is a handstand opportunity, instead of doing leg presses with weights I do them with fellow humans (who are way squirmier than your typical 45lb plate), and I’ve gotten to meet/get thrown around by plenty of fun new people I never would have met outside of acro. Extra bonus: circus people have way better outfits than people at the gym.

    Questions: I wonder what your thoughts are on how changing seasons affect play. During the winter it usually seems so much harder to find free or low-cost opportunities for play, since few people are spending time in public outdoor spaces. I compensate by paying for indoor acro classes – any ideas for encouraging outdoor (preferably low-budget) fun during a rainy and cold winter?

  158. I will throw the football around with my son. I’ll be quarterback and he runs routes and then we switch positions.

    Also, I go swimming with the kids and play tag in the water. 🙂

  159. Seven years ago, a friend sent me a video of the Firecrackers, a jump rope team of about 25 young girls. Their rope tricks were amazing. I bought their training video and began practicing. Today, I have a HIIT jump rope routine that lasts about 20 minutes. It is so much more fun than other forms of aerobic training. I do it 2-3 times a week on rest days following heavy lifting. I am 64.

  160. I’ve had trouble with this part of the primal lifestyle (maybe I forgot how to play as an adult?). I have a new dog that makes workouts playful, and gets me outside even when I don’t always feel like it. Lots of training helps, so I don’t have to worry about his manners.
    The other thing that I have found to be very motivating is thinking about all the things I want to do with my new pal. I realized I’ll only have him for maybe a decade or so, and made a list of everything we want to do together. Dog Years are short so we get out to play, train, and run every day, no matter what.

  161. Love some of these novel ideas! I find that whatever activity I do, it is always more fun with a group. I did recently start yoga using YouTube videos. I had never thought of that! I also live in a small town and instead of driving, I walk: to church, grocery store, post office, friends. I really get around! I have lost a ton of weight by walking and following a Primal lifestyle. Thanks, Mark!

  162. For me, exercise has to have a purpose (including being fun) or I just won’t do it.

    Turns out I really enjoy what they call “flow arts” – dancing with a staff, poi, ribbon stick, etc. People make fun of me for it or accuse me of being a stoner, and I don’t get it — it’s FUN.

  163. One of my favorite childhood activities was jumping…beds, ropes, pogo sticks, trampolines…I even had a set of tininkling sticks! So now when I want to feel like a kid again, my favorite workout go to is my JumpSport Rebounder. I can go as easy or extreme as I want, and never hurt my joints. But now, I’m slipping on my vibrams and heading to the woods!

  164. I walk, talk, and juggle at the same time. I do this in my backyard; so I’m barefoot, I talk about new stuff I’ve learned or give myself a pep talk as I practice the new skill of juggling.

  165. Rollerblading is my all time favorite “fun” activity. Great cardio and you can definitely feel it working your upper legs/bum. I also enjoy bike riding.

    We also do walking meetings at work when you don’t need your computer. Seems to be a more productive conversation while moving.

  166. At the age of 66 my whole goal in life is to be pain free and drug free until I hopefully drop dead in about 40 years time give or take a few years.
    I play golf 2-3 times a week and have other players around me popping pain killers and saying that everyone has something wrong with them.
    I also follow Mark’s exercise suggestions of every 2-3 days sit ups, squats, planks, chin ups and every week sprinting. I walk like a cavewoman every day. I love it. After 30 years of gym workouts and lots of massages to ease aches and pains its great to be pain free. My no fats pescatarian diet also contributing.
    I also ride a bike, paddle board, body surf, play frisbee, and play around with the grandkids.
    In October we’ll be hiking in Peru if the altitude doesn’t get us.

    1. I hope that’s a typo since the fat in that fish is a big part of what makes it so healthy, especially for your joints! A genuinely no fat diet would be lethal.

  167. I have quite a few large established trees on the property I live on. So I like to climb them. Jump down and climb back up. Some bear fruit so this is seasonally also a chore, that I not only love to play at but am exercising as well! There is also a back paddock that is a steep slope up from the house with an awesome view from the top. I do sprint surges up and down with my “reward” at the top that awesome view with a glass of Kombucha! Life is sweet on Primal/Keto (I do both) here in Australia. Thanks Mark!

  168. I love your ideas for incorporating movement into every day. (When it’s a set apart thing, time devoted just to “exercise”, it’s more challenging to “fit it in”. Thank you for the practical ideas.)

  169. We live in a beautiful area surrounded by sand dunes and Lake Michigan. We love to get to the top of the one we call “Big-A-Dune”. Totally feels like being a kid.

  170. I walk,talk,and juggle at the same time. I do this in my backyard; so I’m barefoot, I talk about new stuff I’ve learned or give myself a pep talk as I practice the new skill of juggling.

  171. I walk , talk , and juggle at the same time. I do this in my backyard ; so i’m barefoot, I talk about new stuff I’ve learned or give myself a pep talk as I practice the new skill of juggling.

  172. We have a yoga swing in our yard where I canswing and do inverted poses and even pus ups while inverted. I swim in a pond and make up new water exercises and do handstands in the water and play with the kids there and work on balancing poses while drying after my workout. I would love a slack line in my yard! Thanks for the inspiration!

  173. No trees for me to attach a slack line, trying to noodle out a fix. So I built a balance beam with a 2x4x16. 1.5″ side to walk on, and raised about 8″. It doesnt sway much, but that 1.5″ side takes some lear’n to walk on. Reminds me of being a kid, when we’d walk the street curb, for blocks and blocks…pretending it was a cliff on the street side, molten lava the grass side. Killing time and playing around as kids…when TV time was severely limited, and usually what the parents wanted to watch, and there were no video games.

    I also have some obstacles in the yard. A bar for hopping over, like hopping a fence, or lowered to crawl under, an easily adjusted pull up, or muscle up bar, a sand filled 5 gallon water jug for loaded carries, mixed db’s, and a home made sled to push or pull. I just pile on cinder blocks, sand bags, or whatever else adds weight.

    I like to make stuff, to replicate expensive equipment.

  174. Love working out and try my best to make it fun by doing things I enjoy and make me feel good. For the past 6 months I’ve been playing with my speed bag and heavy bag as part of a workout. I get that good feeling that my triceps are getting a great workout plus it also gives me a cardio workout. Sometimes I mix in jumping rope and try different foot work steps. Every now and then I’ll buy a new piece of exercise equipment to keep things fresh.

  175. I have fun washing and waxing my motor home, believe it or not! It’s good exercise for a retiree and I usually go to a favorite RV park that allows me to use their hoses. It’s a combined camping trip and RV washing trip.

  176. I started an unusual, delightful and secret game with a couple of my friends. First we collect $100 in $10 bills and put them in red envelopes (always red) with a note that says to be prepared for magic to happpen anytime anywhere. We sign the notes “With Love From The Red Envelope Brigade. We go to the local hiking and biking trails where we live in Lawrence, Kansas. We scout unusual but visible places to tie the envelopes. Sometimes we have to climb part way up trees or rocks or just bushwhack up into the brush a bit. The envelopes have become a bit of a legend and mystery around here. There is much speculation among the locals about who, what and why but people look for them now. Sometimes people go out in search of them. I like to think I’m encouraging people to get outside when they might not have otherwise. The time we spend “planting” our special envelopes is always delightful and we get lots of exercise for our bodies, hearts and spirits.

  177. My favorite way to turn exercise into fun is hiking with my husband on the weekends. We’re adding distance and hills each time because we’re going to the Tetons in August and need to be able to handle the altitude and distance! We both do HIIT routines and other stuff during the week but hiking is enjoyable.

  178. we’re kicking off a July fitness GAME for our town, called superhero bootcamp. Part of the play is to learn and practice 5 superhero power-ups…the super spidey, green panther, ironheart, wonder walker and the super flash. To playfully accomplish the super flash (make your moves for at least 15 min every day) we host the 1-15 minute superflash dance party at our bookstore at 1:15pm. for… you guessed it… 15 minutes. Super fun!

  179. I turn exercise and work into play. After retiring from my second career (20 years in the Navy and 15 years in business technology), I sold my home, bought an RV and travel full-time as a nomadic wildlife and travel photographer. I’m out every day hiking to remote locations and walking around strange new towns in hopes of capturing those perfect images. Along with the never ending chores with maintaining my RV and getting it set up and tore down for travel, I manage to stay in really great shape.

  180. My kids and I do “Sock Grenade Bonanza” where we take all of our little rolled up and paired socks and head down into our basement. We turn the lights off so it’s completely dark. Each taking a corner of the room, the goal is to of course obliterate the other opponents with your sock grenades and to also steal as many misfired grenades as possible as stealthily as possible. This means sniper crawls, climbing the backs of the couches, tip toeing and creeping. To make it more interesting, before the game starts, we outline parts of the floor that we can’t touch. This means we have to jump all while trying to hide and not get hit by launching sock grenades. We also play this outside in the backyard in the daylight. It may sound like a low energy game, but boy do those grenades ever get whipped at a steady pace and all that crawling and jumping gets your heart rate elevated just right and the laughs make it even better. Water fights in the backyard are another family favourite, so much fun!!

  181. I love to snowboard, I grew up next to Vermont and there’s nothing like getting first tracks in and just zooming down the fresh snow. You just “go” and don’t think about it. It’s beautiful, the air is crisp, and it’s just the most enjoyable feeling.

  182. I include my dog, (or does my dog include herself?) in my yoga practice, strength training (she mostly watches while giving me strange looks for this one) as well as running. It’s great to have an exercise partner who never stops smiling!

  183. my favorite workouts is playing in the backyard with my 3 year old. We sprint around by chasing each other, racing to get the ball, wrestle, and jumping over other toys while running. We both get gased after about 20-30 minutes and lots of laughter is involved too!

  184. I am constantly chasing my 10 yr old around and taking him to the skate park or park and just plain playing with him. That’s how I get my excersize most of the time as well as gardening with my wife.

  185. I take a break with my 2 dogs with some agility training such as having them do weave poles, jumps or the teeter totter. I then alternate between giving them treats and playing a little game of tug of war with a toy. It gets us both up and having a bit of fun and training at the same time. It’s a win-win.

  186. Exercise has never seemed like work to me and I’ve enjoyed it all my life, from running in my teen years to late fifties now. My favorite movement is dancing and I also pair it with household activities I don’t love as much. The food prep and cleaning take a bit longer to do that way, but it is so much more enjoyable when it finally gets done!

    I make sure to strength train with mostly kettlebells and get in balance work with my own routines. I was a gym rat for so many years but find I can get active nearly anywhere just using my own body weight and sometimes with a few fun fitness toys or even just a chair for my barre exercises. I feel blessed to enjoy exercise and be able to still do it pain-free for so many years.

  187. Three ways:
    1: Serious, hard-core gardening doing ALL the jobs with manual tools – producing better food for me and a better environment with endemic trees etc., for native creatures.

    2: Daily (steep) hill and valley ‘tranquility walk’ before sunset, with my dog, to soak in the peaceful green and blue.

    3: Morning gentle trampoline jump to deal with stress, improve core strength and have fun watching birds and planes.

  188. Recently purchased a $10 badminton set and my groupex class is enjoying a little volleying fun at the end of our sessions!

  189. Hopscotch on the local beach with my kids is my latest outdoor play exercise, but we’d LOVE a slackline in the backyard!

  190. I had fun getting a slow pace workout in this afternoon tending my garden. Plenty of squatting and bending for one thing. It was a bit of ‘gatherer’ too as I rediscovered this afternoon a variety of the weeds that occur in my yard are edible, so I was snacking as I weeded 😉 (oxalis or yellow wood sorrel in particular I enjoyed! ) Followed by some careful balance (pruning dead wood out of the back side of the rose bush without uncomfortable encounters is, hmm, interesting.) and some lifting and moving moderately weighty things (shovels full of damp mulch) Two hours passed like nothing. And THEN I got my stuff from the car and went in the house from work xD

  191. Walking while wearing my baby, and sometimes 40 pounds toddler. Also barefoot sprints in grass just feels so liberating!

  192. I do the usual crossfit twice a week, and martial arts two to three times a week in order to keep up with my kids. I also have odd rituals built into my day for exercise. Our bedtime favorite is that I give each of our kids a “free-ride” up the stairs and it might be a piggy-back or shoulder ride. My kids are 2, 6 and 10, so by the time I get to the oldest, it’s no walk in the park! We also have a push mower and a ton of grass. I make a point of walking to our farmers’ markets each week with all the kids in tow. It all adds up!

  193. Our family has relay races through our house. We set up obstacle courses and see who can race through them the fastest. We like seeing who can get the fastest time, and we even try to beat our own time. Lots of giggles, keeps our minds sharp (creating new courses) , gets our heart rate going, and wonderful memories made.

  194. I want to put a plug in for Olympic-style weightlifting. You build up great mobility, neuromuscular coordination, and strength without getting bulky. It’s as much mental as physical, so I find it refreshing, without feeling gassed like with CrossFit-ish stuff or 5×5 type weightlifting. I’m just hitting my 40’s so finding something sustainable is very important and I like that small changes in weight greatly affect the difficulty of the lift, so you don’t end up needing massive weights to get a hard workout like with deadlifting or squatting (and these important movements are incorporated into the lifts). It’s basically the golf of weighted exercise – reasonably easy to learn but takes a lifetime to master. Once you get that perfect lift, you’ll chase that feeling just the same as the perfect drive off the tee.

  195. We have a quiet little dog park near a small lake at the end of our block. I like to throw a ball as far as I can for my dog to chase, and I do as many box jumps on the picnic table as I can before she brings the ball back to me. I swear, I did not mean to copy your example 😉

  196. We did a ‘dirty 50’ CrossFit wod after an er shift. Made do with equipment. Australian push-ups under tables. Box jumps onto chairs. Supermans on dirty floor. Wanted to do it again!

  197. I work four 10s, which are more like four 12s including my commute. Workouts are hard to pull off on those days, but I manage to pull it off with an indoor pull-up bar and kettlebells. Today my wife and two young kids did a workout with me. We all rotated through ten sets of 5 strict pull-ups. If you had to kip to make the bar, the penalty was two kipping pull-ups for every single strict PU you couldn’t make. Followed by a no-so-cold dip in the Phoenix, AZ pool afterward.

  198. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and passion for movement ! Especially as we get more mature – we need to keep these bodies moving and enjoy it.

    I am going on holiday soon to the U.S. from Australia and I am wondering what do you recommend to stay fit whilst travelling ? Appreciate your help and thank you for a great blog

  199. I used to honestly really enjoy working out, especially pilates and weights when I had them, but ever since having children my energy levels have been low ranging to practically nonexistent.
    I find that the most ways I end up moving now are when I play with my toddlers, which are always fun, if not for me then I at least get the reward of seeing their smiles. 🙂 Chasing them around/tickling them, crawling with them, making obstacle courses in the house (random assortments of pillows and chairs to walk on/crawl under). I got really into tree climbing (barefoot of course) right before I found out I was pregnant with my 1st child. Haven’t climbed a tree since :/

  200. Also before I had children, my partner and I would walk random places (outdoor malls, parking lots, parks) and we’d randomly race each other in full out sprints. I LOVED that. It was so fun. One time i pushed too hard and my leg gave out and I tripped on the cement. That wasn’t so fun. ?

  201. Mark, thanks for the great post. I really enjoy running sprints early on Friday morning. I do seven reps of 40 m sprints and after the seventh sprint, I feel great for the rest of the day.

    Again, thanks for providing such great information.

  202. We live across the street from a middle school track which also contains a football field in the center. To make our sprints (usually 60m to 80m) more fun, we will have the dogs (Boxers) sprint with us. As you might be aware, in-shape Boxers can fly! Our oldest dog is almost 11 years (70+ in dog years), weighs in at 58 lbs, and she can flat out run….our other ‘puppy’ is 4 years (28 in dog years), weighs in at 65 lbs, and is more of a ‘linebacker’ when he sprints. This method of getting our sprinting in is not only beneficial for us, but gives our dogs a fun day on the grass. Every week we ‘sprint the dogs’ to get our primal on!!

  203. Ha! I love the idea of the Target balls! For fun ways to work out, I enlist my three grandkids (all five and under) to practice Yoga with me. We see how long we can hold poses, and just seeing their interpretations of some poses cracks me up. We forget we’re actually working out.
    At my office, I spend a lot of time at the copier/scanner. I jog in place, do high kicks, squats, and butt kicks in between each set of copies. I try to improve my reps each time I put a new piece on the machine. My coworkers have gotten used to seeing me go back to my office out of breath!

  204. Today, I call it rock hopping, or boulder scrambling. Those big rocks or boulders you see along many rivers, lakes, oceans, breakwaters, etc. Whenever I see them, I have an urge to hop on them, jump or run across them, balance on them precariously, make up games as I go. Some variations include a form of hop (rock) scotch, where I’m only allowed one step per boulder. Sometimes I have to hop, broadjump style, with both feet, from one boulder to the next (2 feet always on the boulder). If I’m listening to tunes that day, I get to dance along the rocks, pausing on the big ones to do a jig or shuffle. If they’re spaced somewhat far from each other on the beach, I go back to my childhood, remembering when I had to stay on the rocks, if I touched the sand, it was hot lava and I died (but only for a moment). I’ve been to many parts of the world, and I’m always drawn to the rocks, even if I’m in my work attire. I have the need to walk over to them and at least walk upon a few of them in a civilized manner. And if no ones watching, I’ll do some hopping, after all, I may never see these rocks again. Life is grand… living on the rocks!

  205. While waiting for the bus, I sometimes try to scour the landscape i.e. the buildings, the benches, the trees, the whatever and do some sort of activity. Sometimes balancing or stretching, standing pushups, etc. My favorite is doing handstands! And of course the odd reactions from people only make it more fun!

  206. My favourite is riding my mountain bike around the streets like a 12 year old. I jump kerbs, I ride down stairs, I huck off little drops everywhere and I do as many wheelies and skids as possible! I’m 54 but riding like a kid is way more fun than riding like a middle aged man!

  207. Everyday I sprint 100 yards to our compost pile, dump the compost, sprint back. Everyday I sprint 100 yards to our mailbox, grab the mail, and sprint back.

  208. Thank you so much for this Mark.

    Really appreciate this frame of mind when it comes to excercise, & the tips are all brilliant.

    As someone with a severe autoimmune disease I find I have to be very cautious with the way I approach excercise. I’m very thin so it’s also a struggle to not lose too much weight when I move more. I love a good walk, with the occasional run like no one is watching thrown in. Also a fan of dancing like no one is watching (I’m as bad as Elaine…)

    Whatever I do a relaxed attitude is definitely the way I go about it. No one should ever stop playing.


  209. By far the best way to turn exercise into play for me is soccer. Alas, I haven’t played in years due to repeated injuries. Now, I do martial arts. I am not able to go as frequently as I like so my progress is slow but I love the feeling of teaching my body new ways to move. I also play with my soccer ball in my living room, when I’ve been still too long, but I don’t think of it as exercise. Maybe I should!

  210. My boys and I play frisbee with our dog, like doing sprint passes or monkey in the middle. It’s a full cardio workout! Oftentimes, after a water break under a shady tree, we’ll then do some tree climbing and pulling.

  211. I actually really enjoy gardening and doing yard work. It’s been almost therapeutic to be working with the earth to produce your own fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits. The work keeps me on my feet for hours and gets my heart rate up. Thanks to the mental focus on producing, before I know it, I’ve gotten in a pretty good workout. Add music and it makes for a rewarding and satisfying day.

  212. Incorporating exercise into my work day definitely has made a huge difference in my energy and motivation and stress reduction. I bike to work in the mornings, or if the weather is really bad walk but with a heavy pack and umbrella. In my office I have a pull up bar and rings set up (which can come down easily if I have visitors) for quick reps or stretching, or even full on work outs if I have the time. Mountain biking with studded tires in the winter to work has been a source of huge satisfaction and at times, joy! Always an adventure! The slack line would make a cool addition to my impromptu gym in the park (I always carry a set of rings and and straps with me — just in case!)

    Mike in Sapporo, Japan

  213. The simplest way is to turn it into a competition – either with yourself or a friend! Keeping track of the score will make both of you want to top it consistently.

  214. I have tje will to learn and push myself harder to become better, i dont need to make the training feel like playing, i just need to know it makes me better and thatd enough to push me harder

  215. One of my favorite ways to enjoy play and exercise together is to join exercise with my love of things medieval! Some days, I am feeling pretty on top of my game, and can do some sword practice and pell drills for fun and exercise. Some days, I feel pretty laid-back and would rather move slowly, but a LOT. Then I can grab my longbow and some arrows and wander the woods, “stump shooting” . Even making the bows with a drawknife first is a bit of exercise!

  216. For me, it has to be West Coast Swing dancing; it’s physically and mentally challenging -the ultimate workout and meditation rolled into one! I started learning in January and can’t get enough of it; 4 or 5 nights a week and I compete too (no prizes yet though!).
    I’ve always struggled with maintaining workout regimes for long enough to see results; but now I’ve lost 15 pounds without even trying!

  217. Growing up back in my home country Costa Rica, I used to ride one of our horses, but climb up on his back was a real challenge, specially beacuase I was on my own and with no saddle or gear 🙂 I got creative and improve my hops to be able to sit on his back and the riding was my favorite part! I also allays enjoyed to climb trees, to play, get mangos or guavas or just for the sake of doin it. Nowadays I don’t climb every tree I see, but every time I go to parks, to the beach or just in our backyard (we have several old tree stumps, they are huge!) I practice my hops, do squats, step ups with balance and jump over the stumps (primal version of box jumps ). Sometimes I think about that freeing feeling of galloping my horse bareback, definitely would love to do that again as an adult, but the chances of finding a good old horse like our “palomillo” are veery remote. Anyways, that’s what I enjoy to do, but I’m always open to find new and different ways to exercise, specially outdoors. Thank you Mark for the article, I’m looking forward to try a couple of your tips really soon.

  218. I totally agree with this idea of making workout as fun as if you were playing outside. I love to add some natural movement along the day like hanging or squatting in order to keep me moving and counteract our sedentary way of life!

  219. Chase my kids with water balloons. It Helps them burn off some energy and gets me some exercise!

  220. My favourite exercise is playing Raiders style games with the youth group each weekend. Even a short game has several sprints and when we play it inside lots of jumping over obstacles too.

  221. I’ve staged rock piles and logs around my yard for my kids and I to challenge each other, pick up and throw, carry or markers to sprint between. Is it landscaping or our outdoor gym?

  222. I carry both my sons up to bed. We have 2 long flights of stairs to their bedrooms. It’s progressive weight training as they get older, currently one is 35kg and the other 25kg.
    They love it as they get to take ‘the rocket’ to bed. I get a weighted stair climb and I HAVE to do it every evening as they refuse to go to bed unless I carry them. 🙂

  223. Build an out-door obstacle course with weight, sand bags and a playground. Include sprints, jumps, burpees, etc. We time each run through the course with my kids. It’s competitve and fun to try and beat your old score and get the fastest time overall. The kids are breathing hard and don’t realize their working on their fitness. If the course gets boring we just set up a new one or include something else.

  224. Doing boxing drills (gloves and striking mitts) to heavy rap music is so much fun! And grueling work!

  225. I have a toddler, so I get a “free pass” to use the playground equipment at the park when I take her :). I like to hang from the bars overhead or just put my feet up against the poles to stretch my calves while she’s swinging or sliding. I also try to climb up on the equipment and do whatever she’s doing, too.

  226. My office has several print outs of neck exercises, desk exercises and a Tibetan eye chart to remind me to take fitness breaks. My husband and I work on mobility while watching our favorite shows. And the highlight of my day is running around the yard playing with my four dogs.

  227. Love the creek idea. Brought my 85 pound lab puppy to the creek and explored. Always bring a friend. 4 legs or 2!

  228. I found a sturdy playground at a middle school, not used by many people, complete with horizontal bars at varied heights (pullups, inverted rows), monkey bars (harder for grownups to make it across!), and also a metal bench about knee height (box jumps , situps, stepups). All circled by a curb that acts as a balance bar. I vary my exercises and rep patterns, and get a different workout all the time that is never boring.

  229. my company has buildings spread out on the campus. i go to a ladies room in another building. at least a ten minute walk either way walking briskly. so i will take this walk at least three times a day and the stairs to the ladies room on the second floor.

  230. My favorite ways to play are hiking and a bit of rock climbing, and so I will work out to support those habits. I mostly forget that they themselves are “exercise”. I also like to look for things to lift or balance on while I’m on the mountain.

  231. Mark, you talk about martial arts in your article. This has been my fun workouts for a good part of my life and especially for the last 12 years. I participate in in Brazilian jiu jitsu spending at least an hour and half rolling each week. It seems more like roughhousing than training but at the same time I am working core, balance, strength, and mental attitude. I highly recommend some type of martial art in your workout plan.

  232. One of my favorite ways to exercise while having loads of fun is to put my roller blades on when my 3 older children want to ride their scooters around the neighborhood. I throw my little guy into the stroller & we all take off! We adventure up & down hills which gives added resistance & endurance as well as pushing the stroller & staying “in control!” My neighbors look at me like I’m crazy, but Yay for turning daily activities into fun and hard work for us all to do together!!!??? #FamilyBonding

  233. As a family we like to make our own version of Ninja Warrior either on a playground or using the benches and trees in a park. Two laps. First lap sets the baseline and the second lap is to see if we can improve our time.

  234. My 6 month old wakes up super early. Rather than griping or thinking “I’m so tired”, I feed him, get dressed for the day, and then we head out for a long walk. For the first 20 minutes he likes looking at birds, trees, etc. Then he catches a nap on the last 30–40 minutes, while I get some exercise. Added bonus: I normally listen to a book or podcast to up my mental game as well.

  235. Park benches are great for push-ups and tricep dips.I also use them as a “stop” for doing 25 jumping jacks. It’s quick and doesn’t look too weird. Frisbee and badminton are great yard games with kids that involve real moving and hand-eye coordination. I used to play a lot, need to bring it back. Life has become too full of responsibilities.

  236. My kids, dog and I get off the trails in pursuit of a certain destination (waterfall, peak, rock) or no destination at all. By getting off trail, we have to climb over rocks, balance along downed trees, leap over water crossings, push large branches out of the way…. We use muscles and skills we don’t generally employ on a groomed trail. And the satisfaction of using mental navigation skills–when they work!–is so rewarding.

  237. I have to walk up a fairly steep hill every day on my way to the lab where I am working. Instead of taking it slowly so that I don’t break a sweat, I treat my morning commute like a playground (and then bring an extra pair of clothes to change into). Its fun to sprint up the hills, or jump off of curbs. I have to do it every day, so why not make the most out of it. Its fun, and its a small daily bit of exercise.

  238. I take my dogs out for walks/hikes in the hills. I let them lead the way (usually off the trail) and follow where they take me. I have found some surprising things hidden just off the ‘beaten path’ this way and anyone who has followed a dog around outdoors knows they have no concept of straight lines 🙂

  239. We enjoy doing parkour together. It not only works the body it also makes the mind work as well, deciding routes opposite hand and leg, which vault etc..

  240. Aside from doing (and loving) most of what you blogged about, my son and I set up obstacle courses in our backyard, American Ninja style! My 5 year old and I also play floors lava where we start standing on the ground counting down from 5 before the floor turns to lava. When zero sounds we better be on somthing or else we lose.

  241. Dance by far the easiest…music awesome stimulation. This slack line looks way fun, taking balance to a new level. I have seen paragliders use them on the ground..cool

  242. I really enjoy kayaking out in the bay, I live about 20 minutes from the water so I just throw my kayak in a cart and tow it there behind my bicycle 1-2 times a week. I’ve also started doing quick exersizes at work every once and a while like tricep or chest dips, pushups, and squats. Like you said in the post it works very well for clearing your mind and getting you focused.

  243. I participate weekly in a Rueda Salsa class. It is a form of Salsa that is in a round circle. So you do not need a partner since you change partners each time a new dance move is called. Started this about 6 months ago. My mother passed of Alzheimers years ago. So, I read up on study pertaining to diet and exercise that may delay or assist with memory. Studies have shown that dancing helps with quick fire decisions. That in turn help with the neurons. Love the class! It is fun, works different muscles and builds relationships with new friends.

  244. Definitely music and dance with my 1 year old. Amazing how a child can make you feel like the best dancer.

  245. I have a weekend beachhouse on the atlantic and try to get a good swim in most weekends while my dog chases me on the beach.

  246. I do Tae Kwon Do 3 to 4 times a week. We also go on family bike rides and hikes.

  247. Ah! I love the slackline! It’s very challenging, but a great way to exercise through play.

    Another way I exercise through play is with my very energetic 3 year old. All he wants to do is wrestle, so we roll around together and, on occasion, I’ll sneak in some squats and tricep extensions using my child as added body weight.

  248. Hi,
    At work at a high school when the bell rings for each of our seven periods/hour of classes there is five minutes of passing time between the bell to dismiss students to their next class. I take that opportunity to walk the hall while engaging with students along the way! I also have a resistance band in the classroom and students when need a break from sitting they have permission to crank out a few reps of exercises of their choice using the band. We also provide stand up computer work station for our student if they so choose. Thanks for the opportunity Dave Gay

  249. I’m about 9 months from turning 60 and have always hated the word ‘exercise’ – never kept any regimented program for that reason. With that being said, I chase my three grand kids around the yard playing tag or hide and seek, drag 200 feet of hose out to my garden on a daily basis, make a multitude of trips up fifteen steps to put away items on the second floor, toss a ball to the dog, ride my bike or walk to the river and hike with my daughter. I get a good, over all workout, and these are tasks that I enjoy doing and never consider it ‘excercise’. I will continue this as long as I am upright!

  250. Mark, you have honestly been a reason more joy has come into my life. I am a Type A, serious, responsible woman that has a hard time letting go to play. You have helped me so much in this. Since going primal, I’ve introduced obstacle course races, paddle boarding, hiking, riding a bike like the one in my childhood (pedal brakes and a basket), and playing tag with my kids. Thank you!

  251. I box jump up my stairs and use my 3 year old boy as a kettlebell with swings and deadlifts when he comes for a cuddle. He loves it. He gets heavier and I get stronger.

  252. I have one of those stand-alone pull-up bars like the one seen in Mark’s video where he demonstrates pull-up progressions. I keep it indoors in my living room where I frequently watch baseball games on tv nearly every evening. During commercials in between innings, I do 5 pull-ups. By the end of the game, if I don’t forget, I’ve done 90 pull-ups.

    Also, question: What would be a good martial art to try to learn for a beginner (who is middle aged 50ish years old) and doesn’t want to get injured and be sidelined during a prolonged injury recovery period?

  253. I keep a deck of cards on my desk and pull cards randomly throughout the day. The numbers are reps. The suits are assigned movements (hearts for pushups etc).

    When the deck runs out, I throw the cards all over the floor and then pick them up. That’s the shuffle. Now repeat the cycle!

  254. I enjoy playing soccer on a weekly basis. Also playing with my dog is always a blast.

  255. I always keep the music on loud, and dance while i cook and clean, or just walk around!

    Good for the body AND the soul!

  256. I enjoy kayaking; it is peaceful, connects me with nature and is a great workout. It’s not just the paddling either, I have to carry the kayak to the spot, and not to mention loading it onto the top of my SUV and off, so it ends up a full body workout!

  257. Dance is probably my #1 fun workout. I made a playlist (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqNKd2tyIWzBvv9zhrnaQByfv9_umI-ZQ) with a ton of danceable stuff. Just crank it in my living room for 5 songs, and a quick, fun workout that I often say, “just one more” to.
    Mountain biking is my big workout day. A short burst up a steep part just doesn’t feel like work. It involves the whole body and mind, and if it’s the right time, there might be a berry snack along the way.
    Mark taught me well about beach exercise, and I have 2 workouts, plus sprints that I do on the beach, regardless of the temp. Though the summer gets me in the water instead of that, for a couple hours with my daughter, boogie boarding or just playing.
    The least fun of my workouts is cleaning the house, mowing the lawn with a human-powered mower, and going to Costco (and bringing the stuff inside). But they involve music and really aren’t too bad./
    I also be sure to play when I bring any kids to a playground or other recreation spot.
    And of course, there is kayaking, skiing, rollerblading, snowboarding, and sailing. I never run/jog. Just no fun whatsoever, unless you’re on the Cliff Walk in Newport, RI.

  258. Dips and legs raises to engage core in between the kitchen counter and island while cooking meals.

  259. My husband and I enjoy kayaking and paddle boarding; great upper body and core workout! I am also a fan of the “dance parties” with my daughter; especially when we turn on 70″s dance music!
    Whenever we travel and stay in hotels, we always take the stairs instead of the elevator.
    We have a new mt bike trail that is opening up in our town this summer and we are looking forward to trying that out. That will be a new experience for me!

  260. We have a large property, and one of the ways we work out is going on long hikes together on our trails. My wife started it and is constantly encouraging it, and it’s great family time.

  261. When I take my dog for a walk, I like to turn that into sprints across the park. Great exercise for me and my dog!

  262. Dad of four ages 6,5,4 and 2. I deliver mail here in Northern California on the route I’ll do body weight exercises + all the walking. Then I get my evening workout with my kids. (Park, tag, trampoline, etc) then if I have it in me at night before bed I do some breath work and mobility but I focus on working in vs working out. Also starting to incorporate MAPS Anywhere from the MINDPUMP family!

  263. Love these! And the emphasis on PLAY! For me, yoga is delicious in all ways – even when it’s not “fun.” Also walking in nature…and glacial-lake plunges (sometimes more fun than others, depending on the season here in BC!).

    These days, that’s “all” I do…but I also try to just move lots throughout my day – feels essential for my mental state as much as anything.

    When working with clients, I encourage them to consider movement essential…but to not fixate on compartmentalized “exercise.” The key piece is just weaving natural movement into the every day…until it becomes second (or, uh, original) nature.

  264. Awesome stuff Mark.
    I have 3 options.
    1 – I practice swordsmanship and I like to, with a partner, actual fence it out with wooden swords. Recreate different scenarios of attack or approach. Have fun that way.
    2 – I like to try to learn a new skill in private, like animal movements or any ground based plyometrics and have fun trying out the new movements
    3 – Demolition. If you have an axe and a friend that needs a tree, shed, wall, fixture, anything that needs to be demolished just ask if you can help and have at it needlessly wreaking excessive destructive havoc.

  265. My step-daughter invited me to visit with her a local business called The Ratchet Hatchet, an ‘ax’ throwing range. We threw hatchets for about an hour competing in games. I threw not only with my dominant arm but also from the other side. For the next couple of days I felt soreness throughout my abs. I’ve never experienced a more fun way to workout a certain muscle group.

  266. BASEBALL! Fast pitch! With uniforms!

    I’ve been doing body-weight calisthenics and bike commuting for years. I love them and they work for me. But I have long known that I need to sprint, meditate, and work on my functional fitness. I just haven’t found anything that I enjoy doing. Until one day when I happened upon a baseball game while at my son’s soccer practice, and sat in the bleachers to watch. I quickly noticed more gray hairs and paunch than I would have expected. Yet the quality of play was good. I was intrigued and I joined the league. I’m 53 and just about the youngest on my team. For 3 hours a week I get to sprint, swing, throw (all natural activities), get away from it all, and get dirty. I’m so very sore every Monday but I love it.

  267. When I grocery shop, I bring sturdy reusable bags and get a good workout carrying them around the store, to and from the car, to and from my apartment. I squat with them, bicep curl, and they’re so heavy sometimes that they work for farmer’s carry too. I do the same thing with water, as I take gallon bottles to be refilled at the filter machines at the grocery store. Then I overhead press them and bicep curl with them on the walk back to my car to drop off the full bottles and pick up empty ones. Since we focus on fresh vegetables and drink a lot of water, this is an easy way to incorporate extra workouts at least three times a week!

  268. On a family vacation with my husband and three children, boys ages 11 and 13, and daughter age 15, in beautiful New Mexico. It is easy to make exercise fun here. We are white water rafting down the Rio Grande (exercise: rowing hard and swimming) and hiking through National Parks.

  269. Calf raises when you are waiting in line at the grocery store (yes, you will get funny looks :)).10 squats every time you go to the bathroom. Alternate glute squeezes while you brush your teeth. Corset squeeze (pulling in your ab muscles like someone is tightening a corset around your waist) while you wash your hair in the shower. I could do this all day! :):):)

  270. I am always looking for ways to incorporate more movement throughout the day. I carry a suspension trainer with door anchors in my backpack along with resistance bands. I make it a point to try new movements and exercises on my work days.

  271. Favorite “fun” exercise: Movement/moving meditation

    It’s *hard* for me to still my mind when I just sit quietly and try to meditate. Martial arts (as in the article) and things like Tai Chi practice have been great ways for me to kill two birds with one stone. Not necessarily “fun” the same way as playing with a dog is, but it’s really gratifying to get the benefit of exercise and meditation at the same time.

  272. I have kids, 9 and 10. So I can make the local playground my playground! We’ve been loving the “playground workouts.” We take some water and play tag which is basically me chasing them around and through all the equipment. Lots of all out sprints. When they’re ready for a break, I do pull-ups on the monkey bars, balance on the teeter-totter, dips on the stair handrails, crunches, etc. After an hour of sprinting, contorting through equipment, and bodyweight work, I’m as wiped as any gym workout!

  273. I’m the crazy mum on the playground chasing her 2 year old. He loves it when I take on am animal character e.g. tiger, kangaroo, shark etc. Which means I get a variety of movements in!
    We do silly dancing chasey at home. He also loves to be thrown around which is hard work!
    I also do baby yoga with my 8 week old, which will start to get a lot more fun as his neck strengthens

  274. We bring hula hoops and jump rope whenever we go to the park, which not only gives each of us a chance to play with them, but draws in bystanders and other children. We also bring chalk and draw various games like hopscotch, four square (if we have a ball along) on any playground. And most of the walk to the park I carry my 14-month old baby in the sling, squatting along the way whenever there is an interesting rock, insect or flower to point out to my older kids.

  275. I like to chop thick logs with an axe while timing it. By the end of the day, I make myself and family a cozy fire by the clearer in the woods, while drinking some wine and cooking some ribs!

  276. The best tip I ever got was just to get started…so if I don’t feel like exercising, I tell myself that just five minutes is fine and better than nothing. Usually, once I get started I feel up to finishing the workout.

  277. Having kids makes exercise much easier, so many opportunities. When at the park, most moms sit and watch their kids play. I play, hopscotch, balance on logs, step up on big rocks, squat, pull ups on monkey bars, lunges, skip, hop, push ups, sprints… Fun!

  278. I watch TV while I stretch/yoga. Multitasking is the only way I can get in everything I want to do in a day.

  279. I trained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA for over eight years. I loved it! But it was hard to sleep after evening practice. I tried staying up, reading, meditation, relaxing tea, baths…nothing seemed to matter. Trade-offs.

  280. For me it all started with leaving the car at home while getting the kids to pre-school then kindergarten. First a bike trailer, then riding with them. Even on the coldest days in Canada you can still pull it off if the roads are not icy. Passing the huge line of cars at drop off is an added bonus to the exercise and teaching the kids to love the bike. Idle time at the park is a great way to fit a workout in with all the climbing apparatus. We live on the edge of a huge greenbelt with miles of paths, creeks and trees to climb and explore. It was on MDA that I first heard mention of Strava. I feel the segment challenges are motivating and generally short and intense. Primal by their very nature.

  281. What to say? Mark and then the other commenters seem to have covered practically everything so some of this will be repetitive.
    I get a lot of my exercise just going about my daily business, on foot or a bicycle when I have one, virtually always wearing/carrying a backpack or carrying other bags of stuff I might require or want while out and about, plus being unemployed I dumpster dive for all sorts of food and stuff and collect just about all the alcohol empties I see to return for a refund and that can sometimes take a lot of effort, but since I’m getting actual work done with a tangible reward to look forward to I often feel more motivated and less strained. There’s a big hill I often have to go down after loading up bags with food that stores threw out (such as occasional organic yams from a health food store) and sometimes I get too tired or simply impatient and ride a shopping cart down the hill, standing on the back of the cart with my hands gripping the top of the sides. I try to go as fast as possible while retaining control. It’s quite a thrill. This way I get some exercise automatically without having to do any conventional exercise moves, moving around my environment makes things more interesting than monotonously staying in one place, and to increase my enjoyment I walk or cycle fast sometimes, detour a bit and take some hills/uneven terrain, climb/hop fences and all sorts of things, leap creeks or use rocks and fallen trees to cross them, do unnecessary little stunts or parkour moves, run up the hills, jump, hop on and off curbs etc.
    Being outdoors in nature or at least with a decent amount of nature mixed into urban settings often makes a positive difference for me in my willingness to engage in exercise because it improves my mood and the aesthetics to admire are a good distraction from fatigue and pain. I like to go out in forests and monkey around, climbing, running, jumping, and practicing balance, sometimes doing pull-ups, chin-ups, and dips in trees. It’s a lot more exciting than just doing conventional gym reps.
    Personally I like some natural chemical help sometimes too: a few cups of coffee, for example, to elevate mood (except too much can have the opposite effect and sometimes make me anxious) and increase energy and drive to exercise. That’s what’s kicking in for me now and I’m thinking I ought to take a little break outdoors instead of fidgeting in the computer chair like someone from Breaking Bad. Main thing I learned from that show: apparently methamphetamine junkies wear winter hats no matter how warm it is. In my experience, living in an area where there’s lots of drug use, and knowing my share of meth users, this is not necessarily the case, in fact it would be more of a rarity. Then again, this isn’t TV.
    That’s all I got for now – too much to do. Since my comments are always getting moderated I won’t be able to see this one later after logging back into the library computer if I want to reply to add to it but maybe I’ll write another later today before the deadline; they can be considered as one.
    Sometimes my comments don’t even make it through when there’s no reason at all they’d be blocked. Often I post a comment and it shows after with a note that says it’s waiting for moderation but sometimes that doesn’t even show up, or it will say “comment posted” but nothing will show up, so I assume there’s some sort of glitch.

  282. I love doing “CrossFit” type workouts named after my kids, they always ask me if I’m going to do the Israel or the Abram workout, and they love joining in on a scaled down version of a workout, nothing like having your 7 and 4 year olds doing burpees beside you!

  283. Commute to work a couple days a week by bicycle, it comes out to 22 – 26 miles round trip depending on what routes I take.

  284. I like to use play with my kids as exercise – we both enjoy it and I get a little extra benefit.

    Kids love to be thrown up in the air, I start with little tosses maybe around 9 months old and peak at the highest (outdoors or high vaulted ceilings necessary) around 2 years old. My 5 year old still loves it too, but I can’t get the same altitude with him.

    I can use the kids for arm curls from at least 2-5 years old and they think its hilarious. I do similar games with leg lifts (sit cross-legged and they ride the higher foot like a horse) until they get too tall.

    There are endless ways to sprint with kids – racing on foot or bike, playing chase/monster games, or running around with a piggy-back rider.

    Once the kids grow up, I’ll have to forge new habits or my health will plummet! 😉

  285. Be careful on those creek walks, don’t jump on the wet rocks!!!
    Here are some of my fav’s not mentioned above, excluding all forms of enhancing the fun of actual workouts:
    -slow-moving painful on the knees horsie-back rides have become “t-rex” rides (originally named taun-taun rides, but t-rex stuck better…give her time, shes only 5) Stand up, lean forward and hold the lil ones bottom with arms back. go as fast as you feel safe…
    -one-handed planks while weed pulling outside -see how long I can go w/out touching butt to ground
    -lunge walk pickup anything (usually toys) around the house or yard
    -when wifey was preggo, i carried my 60lb sandbag on our walks
    -stroller walking lunges. Or sandbag carries while she pushed the stroller
    -asserting myself into playground play when its not busy
    -the floor is lava (limitless possibilities here)
    -hold arms out for kids pullups (much easier for 2 people to hold shoulders)
    -repeatedly throwing kids into the air/pool/ball pit/foam pit
    -see how long I can keep up 2x air squats per push on the swing (was never brave enough to try a burpee)
    -fingertip pullups on the doorframes I trust can handle me, including the brick frame above the garage door
    -lightsaber battles (pvc pipe covered in pool noodles for safety) up to 3 kids vs. me
    -attach a quickdraw carabiner to the dog leash to secure them to the swings and do pullups/squats/whatever on any open playground we pass. That’s my default run now with my dog
    -splitting logs and piling them up for time
    -shoveling the driveway for time
    -I attached a long rope to our sled, so I can pull my 5yo up the sled hill. It makes sledding last longer as she doesn’t get as tired, but gets harder every year
    -I also pull her down the street in the right snowy conditions in the same sled.
    -Best of all in the roped snowtube sled, we play “slingshot” where I spin her around and around in the yard, and let go just before the point where it looks like she can hold on no longer. We have a small hill in the center, but it works on flat ground too. Or if conditions are right you can play “hold on” where you try to spin so fast you make them fly off. Good fun, but take safety precautions ?
    -Last but certainly not least, playing pokemon go so that I can bring home new pokemon for my daughter to evolve

  286. Trapeze! When I couldn’t afford the classes anymore, I put a pullup bar and a yoga swing in my door and added second pull up bar at hip height. Now I can do many of the same exercises that help keep me fit and it amuses people who visit me and wonder what the contraption is.

  287. Working out with others makes my workouts more enjoyable. Normally it’s my wife while lifting, but it can also be as simple as chasing the kids around.

    1. Oh. Also forgot my 4 year old’s insatiable desire to be thrown up in the air, or spun around.

  288. Free running, or “parkour light”. Occasionally I treat my more intense running sessions as fun way to get some jumping, balancing, sprinting, climbing and rolling skills in.

    No matter if running through a park in the city, or in the forest I actively seek out obstacles such as rocks, trees, steep cliff faces, park benches, kids playgrounds and such, to jump over, crawl under, climb up/down, roll over and more.
    And when sprinting or doing “fartlek” between the obstacles the workout effect is tremendous, but hardly noticeable at the time due to the enormous fun-factor!

    Simple, effective and playful!

  289. I do seasonal rotation to my exercises, depending on the weather. My focus is more outdoor activities. So tennis, golf, kayaking, xcountry skiing, hiking, beach bumming.

  290. Hello Mark.
    One of my favorite exercise is the burpee. And I play beach volleyball. So when I go to beach, I’ll do burpees at the net. And all of a sudden they’re not work anymore. I use them to warm up and get better at blocking at the net. Bingo!
    Win win.


  291. I go creeking almost every day, walking the dogs looking for Indian artifacts, just cooling off after a day of yard work but never thought of it as a workout. Thanks for the idea! I’ll be more cognizant of adding squats and rock balancing and lifting heavy stones.

  292. I love the whole concept of work outs being a fun part of my day. This slack line looks awesome!

  293. Playing tag with my cat. Does he know we’re playing tag? Probably not. Does it matter? Not a bit! Lol For anyone ridiculous enough to want to play: boop your cat on the nose and run away (preferably to somewhere out of sight). When kitty hunts you down, run further away. If kitty pounces on you before you get away then you are now ‘it’ and must chase kitty around the house until you catch him and boop him on the nose again. This game can last anywhere from 0 to about 20 minutes…cats are fickle. You’re welcome 😀

    Also, a fun way I make trail running (or road running) more exciting is to use the Zombies, Run! app. I must help save the human race, and not get eaten by zombies! I never run so fast as when I can hear an approaching hoard breathing down my neck in the forest. On the rare occasion that I get caught I just go home and attempt to eat my husband’s brains 😛

  294. I like to juggle while walking to different parts of my city. I juggle while moving forwards, backwards, and sideways. Even better is juggling shirtless and getting that natural vitamin D.

  295. I just got the materials to add an aerial sling/hammock to my home exercise options. My cats like to join me when I use my home gym.

  296. Locked behind a desk, my coworkers and I have now scheduled 3 x 10 minute walks per day. Although some of our sedentary colleagues think our walks are a waste of time, I have definitely noticed an improvement in my own productivity!

    Also, inspired by this post, I’ve borrowed my friend’s slackline for the weekend. If I win, I’ll already be a pro by the time it arrives! If not, I’ll have a super-awesome-fun weekend activity, which is just as great of a prize!

  297. A couple years ago, we had to move and for a variety of reasons, it was terribly hard. We landed in a new place, surrounded by people who have zero interest in primal or health — I was pretty depressed after landing here.

    About half of the families have kids. And I just kind of adore kids. So I started joining them outside. They pull out an extra razor scooter for me to ride, we see who can crash land in the yard the most dramatically. Another time, a neighbor pulled out his disc-golf-frisbee thingies; we raced all over, playing in the wind is tough! When I know they’re bored on their bikes, I pull out my Original Wood Bongo Board and we play with our balance in the carport.

    They brought me out of my doldrums. Today I’m off to buy my first kettlebell, having put it off for years. I can’t wait. Being open to a less structured way to workout is “how I make it fun”.

  298. Stand up paddle boarding with my 3 year old son. I love being on the water and my son has a great time, he sometimes even takes a nap. Usually I go for about an hour, we stop at a small beach and play most of the time. I have a hard board and an inflatable. The inflatable is great to take anywhere as it roles up which makes the size manageable.

  299. My eight year old son and I have recently found that my exercise ball makes for a fun workout “dodge ball style” on our staircase. Trying to bounce that huge ball up high off the stairwell walls and running under it is harder than it sounds!

  300. On the weekend I’ll walk to a nearby school and walk around the school yard then I’ll climb on the monkey bars, swing for a while, and feel like a kid again.

  301. I’ve added Contra dancing to my workouts. I definitely work up a sweat and it turns out I really like to spin. There’s also some mental exercise to learn the sequence and then reverse it. Plus I’m meeting new people.

  302. I love to do tumbling and cartwheels with the kids, we try different variations and play around while getting lot’s of variety of movement and usually outdoors play at the same time.

  303. I coach my son’s t-ball team. Running around chasing a bunch of four and five year olds is amazing exercise and a boat load of fun!

  304. Great post, Mark!
    I love to play on aerial silks. It’s an incredible workout, but it’s also a blast. As part of strength training, I do exactly as you mentioned and have a pull-up bar in my doorway to my office; every time I go into that room, I do at least three pull-ups. It feels like having an adult jungle gym in the house, and has improved my silks performance immensely. Love it!
    As a separate activity, I play music and move along to it, transitioning from stretching to moves from prior dance and martial arts practices. It’s invigorating, fun and a great way to reduce stress. 🙂

  305. I just finished treatment for breast cancer, and am working hard to get back my strength after all the treatments. I need to lose weight, my primal health coach suggested sprints, generally not my favorite. Since I was so sick, I’ve missed out on months of playing with my kids. So now, instead of sitting with the other moms on the playground, I play with my kids. I get a good workout playing zombie (I try to get 15k steps in a day), and when the kids are zombies and I have to run from them–that’s where I get my sprints! It feels so good to connect with my kids with joy. My least favorite workout has become one of the best times of my week.

  306. My husband and I recently purchased a badminton set. It has been a fun way to change things up.

  307. Right now we live in Tucson, AZ. The family and I go hike the desert (or mountain) trails every chance we get! We’ve had a wonderful time getting a good workout as a family while enjoying the wildlife and the views!

  308. Two ways. First one!!!! Evertime I hav ppl come over, I always try to entice one of my guests to arrive early to do a workout with me before the other guests arrive. Once I say battle ropes, they immediately regret their decision. Segundo!!!!!! When Okey and Flapjack, my two black lab mixes, oh so I’ve been told, are walking ahead of me, I will turn around and sprint as hard as I can. The pups refusing to b outrun by a bipedal will chase after me, when they finally catch up, I’ll slow down my sprint. I’ll do that several times and they love it!!!!

  309. I love artistic roller skating, specifically freestyle. It’s basically figure skating, but on wheels.

  310. We include our dog in our activities – always a fun time when he’s involved. We love rock climbing for the best in functional movement training — so much fun indoors and outdoors. In my daily routine (I am rehabbing an injured knee) I make sure to include exercises and activities that I can do easily as well as those that challenge me.

  311. My daughter loves to Folkstyle wrestle with me and setting up “Steps Competitions” via our Garmins

  312. I love to play online (see, right now), so I combine it with walking by tying my activity bracelet around my ankle (for tracking steps) and walking a big circle around my backyard or inside my house while online writing & reading. I call this ‘strolling while scrolling’ and have topped 7000 steps in a single session (yes I’m addicted to social media, lol). I’ve tried it on the treadmill but it’s too easy to lose my balance.
    This in addition to regular walking, hiking, kayak paddling, lifting & dancing at Zumba (all without my trusty phone!) gives me a step average of over 11k a day.

  313. I love to swim underwater in the ocean for as long and quietly as possible listening to the whales communicate when they are traveling up, and down the North Coast of Australia. The 1st time I heard them I wad amazed how clearly I could hear them even though they were 1 to 2 kilometres out to sea. The mum’s, or dads? Are deep and soulful the young higher pitched. AMAZING

    1. Line dancing, Tai chi, walking, swimming, container gardening.

  314. Honestly just taking myself to my local park makes life more fun. There’s a mile track /trail and stops along the way with fitness challenges. I’ve always been one that enjoys challenging myself over being others.

  315. Horseback riding. It was always just a thing I loved and I didn’t even realize it was excoriate until long after I fell in love with the sport. It still doesn’t feel like a workout to me, even though I know it is!

  316. “Top Gear” races , usually on the way home. Based on the British tv show, in which the race involves two modes of transport. We live on a river, and the nearest bridges are a fair way from home, so if we have to cross the river it can be a long drive but a short walk. Sometimes on the way home, we will drop some of the family members off, on the other side of the river, to race the car home. We have other variations depending on circumstances, (bikes, skateboards, train stations ) and this known as a ‘Top gear’ race.

  317. HI Mark, I only just read this newsletter. I missed out on your contest yet the article was such good timing in and of itself it has me feel like a winner. I used to do some of what you’ve mentioned. I had years of inaction due to pronations & exhaustion. I’ve just come out the other side of both and feeling good, found a user friendly circuit training gym and your suggestions are the next step I needed to hear so thank you for sharing! It will fill gaps that will have me smiling :}

  318. My five-year-old son and I love to go barefoot in the backyard and play tag. I’ll stay close to him while he’s “it” so I can work on my agility and flexibility while avoiding his tag!

  319. I’ve never taken a dance class in my life and just recently started ballet! It’s so challenging and so rewarding. I’m engaging muscles I didn’t know I had and moving in new ways. I can practically feel my brain re-wiring!