What kinds of exercise do people like?

#2 is going through a lot of situational depression right now (bad things keep happening, starting with her FIL’s death several months ago).  Back when she lived in a hellhole, one of the things that kept her sane (along with increased meds) was weekly horseback riding.  In graduate school, it was fencing.

Horseback riding is too expensive and doesn’t work with her work schedule now that she has a day job.  She had to fire her fencing master when she found out he voted for Trump and the other fencing options are too far away.

Paradise has every single kind of exercise in the world, but you have to know what you’re looking for to find it.  She hates sweating.  She hates exercise.  But she’s thinking about maybe looking into something else even though she hates exercise and she hates sweat (so do I!).   So I said I’d ask Grumpy Nation what’s out there.

So, don’t tell her what she should do or what she should try.  Yes, she knows that John Green started liking exercise after doing it a few months in a row (we’re both watching 100 days).  Don’t lecture her about exercise etc.  That’s not going to help.  [update:  And will be deleted.]

Instead, answer these:  What kinds of exercise do you enjoy or did you used to enjoy?  What kinds of exercise do you know that other people enjoy?  What kind of exercise would you like to try?  What’s out there?

For me, I like swimming and hiking.  I used to like field hockey and gymnastics.  My sister is into ballet and yoga and modern dance.  My mom loves kickboxing.  DH used to do fencing and kendo.  How about you?

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56 Responses to “What kinds of exercise do people like?”

  1. Zenmoo Says:

    I like running outside in beautiful places where I can see nice scenery and dolphins. see also Hiking. I like swimming but only in nice outdoor swimming pools that don’t seem like germ soups. I like Pump classes but the music is usually too loud for me. I like touch rugby and indoor soccer – but that’s probably related to the social teams I used to play with. I also like full pitch soccer – particularly in the backline where I could put my body into it.

    • Debbie M Says:

      I highly, highly recommend ear plugs for your Pump classes.

      Oh, I used to love flag football. More fun that touch football because you have the flag in your hand–very melodramatic! You don’t need official flags; you can just tuck knee socks into your waist band.

    • NZ Muse Says:

      Yep, running (and occasional hiking) is my only one.

      I’ve enjoyed Zumba in the past when my friend was a teacher. My friends have also gotten into ultimate frisbee and I have a little – just need to learn to catch. Also throw…

  2. Leah Says:

    I really love swimming! No sweating for sure, quiet, contemplative, and you can go as fast or as slow as you like. It’s especially enjoyable right now while pregnant.

    I also really enjoy hiking, since I can go at my own pace. I don’t have to get gross and sweaty unless I want to. I get to see all sorts of nature, and that’s really a balm for me when stressed out (research supported!). So looking forward to getting outside this weekend with my first, as the weather is supposed to be gorgeous.

    I don’t personally like group exercise classes, as I feel judged, so I avoid those. I do enjoy co-op group sports if there’s an at-large option. In our current town, you have to join an existing team and therefore must know people on the team to know there’s a spot. But during grad school, I could just sign up for ultimate frisbee, softball, etc, and that was really fun for me. It’s good, fun, stealth exercise for me.

    Oh, another thing I like — weight lifting is a good, solitary, self-paced activity. I use this book called “Smart Girls do Dumbbells” to take the anxiety out of it for me. She’s got explanations of all of her lifts, and then she has a prescribed daily plan. Once I actually get started, I do sweat, but that just means I do the exercise right before a shower.

    Other things I enjoy but are much more active include running (I use couch to 5k every time I restart after a break) and biking. I’m actually hoping to do a sprint triathlon next year — the distances aren’t so arduous or time consuming as a longer triathlon, but you get the fun of doing one.

    I’d like to get involved in dance again. I used to do a community ed class in belly dancing that was really fun, and I did modern dance in college. That’s another one of those stealth exercise things where I’m having a good time so don’t notice the exercise as much.

    Wow, I guess I do like to be active. My lizard brain always harangues me for not doing enough, but I think I do more than I realized!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Back in high school I always found weight-lifting to be extremely boring. I do wonder how much of exercise would be more bearable now that there are podcasts and mp3 players.

      • Leah Says:

        In grad school, I did a lot of elliptical as I eased back into working out. I definitely needed a podcast every single time. I actually worked out most days in grad school to try to help with the depression. Plus, my apartment the second year had a crappy shower, so I only showered at the gym.

        The weight lifting “menus” in my book are short enough now that i don’t have too many issues with getting bored. Depending on reps, takes me 10-15 minutes to do a workout.

    • Debbie M Says:

      Right, bicycling! I don’t really like it. But it’s reminding me that I used to like roller skating. There are roller rinks (bring ear plugs!). And my town has an outdoor track/trail just for roller skaters, roller bladers, and bicyclists. And it’s like ten feet wide, plenty safe.

      And I’m planning to practice walking around with crutches. It’s aerobic and uses lots of arm muscles. The only problem is people will probably pity me and ask me what’s wrong or wonder why a different leg is messed up on the way home than on the way out. And like jogging, this is a (potentially) useful exercise! I think wheelchair basketball might also be fun, even if you don’t need a wheelchair.

      Yes, I also love the stealth exercise of dancing (once you’re good enough that it’s not just frustrating).

  3. Debbie M Says:

    What kinds of exercise do you enjoy or did you used to enjoy? What kinds of exercise do you know that other people enjoy? What kind of exercise would you like to try? What’s out there?

    Disclaimer: I used to be picked last in PE. I was always the shortest and I moved all the time so I was always new and people assumed I sucked at PE. And because of getting picked last, etc., I got very little practice and did suck at PE.

    What I’m currently doing:

    I love ballroom dancing, but you need space and a partner and a DJ. Lessons usually involve a lot of standing around, so not much exercise. But if you get into a group that specializes (west coast swing and two-step are big around here, Argentine tango and club swing are also pretty big), it’s a lot easier to get into actually dancing. Unfortunately, I am a very slow learner. But for two decades I had a really awesome dance teacher who could speak geek and also who could actually teach (breaking things down, showing examples and counter-examples, explaining in multiple ways, and describing how the physics works, not just demonstrating and saying, “now you do it.”)

    I like regular free-form dancing, too–all you need is some music you really like. This is, and singing along to music I really like (and doing both at once–Stray Cat Strut!) are my fool-proof ways to feel happier.

    There’s a “pilates” video I like (Pick Your Level Weight Loss Pilates) because it reminds me of the Body Flow classes I used to take at Gold’s gym which were advertised as part tai chi, part yoga, and part pilates. So you go back and forth between sweating and stretching plus you get to work your muscles, too, and it just feels basically nice (and sometimes hard). Unlike most video instructors she barely likes at all (you know those people who say you’re going to to X reps, but then when you’re finally through all that, you have to do X more. Hate!)

    I also jog, which I like because it’s really effective–I definitely get aerobics. I like running up and down streets in my neighborhood, especially this time of year when the flowers smell so good. I also look at other houses for ideas on how to deal with one-car driveways, our gigantic 4-foot x 8-foot windows, gardening, etc. I started liking it because in high school I was told that the average woman could run a ten-minute mile and I could also run a ten-minute mile. So exciting! (Ha! Now it’s more like a 13- or 14-minute mile; I’m afraid to time it.) The key is to just slow down so you can last longer. Once you can last a whole mile, it’s easier to get longer distances.

    Hiking (also backpacking if I don’t have to carry too much stuff). Especially when I travel, I love just walking around a lot. Around here it’s too hot for my boyfriend most of the summer, so he likes to hike in malls or IKEA (ugh!).

    Other things I have enjoyed in the past:

    Rock climbing: you use up all your muscles completely in about 2 minutes. But you need a partner to belay you–and you have to belay them, and/or you need a pricy climbing gym.

    Ultimate frisbee (sorry, sweating!)–you can partner up the not-so-good people on one team with the not-so-good people on the other team and everyone gets to play! Also, the trash talk is fun. “I’m all over you like mustard on a corn dog.”

    Disc golf – the people who are terrible actually get to play more! And you all walk through the course together, so you get in socializing. You need someone with a sense of direction and/or who understands how to find all the “holes.”

    Volleyball – a friend had a work group that played regularly and enjoyed helping newbies. I actually became mediocre and can now participate happily at company picnic volleyball games!

    Swimming – I don’t do freestyle the whole time (too hard) but switch back and forth between easier and harder strokes. I used to have a set of nine different strokes I could do–if I did one lap of each, that would be a quarter mile. Crawl, elementary backstroke, breast stroke, side stroke (my favorite!!), etc. My dad always made sure there was a swimming pool at whatever apartments we moved to, so I’m very comfortable in the water. Unfortunately, you need a pool or lake or something.

    Zumba – sweating but dancing.

    Canoeing – but you need a canoe and water and transportation back and ideally a partner.

    Badminton – You don’t have to be fast like in tennis and raquetball (unless the other person is always slamming the birdie thingie). But you need space and equipment.

    Basketball – just shooting hoops.

    Seven-Up – kids game with a bouncy ball.

    Ping-pong – There’s a party game called round-robin ping-pong where people surround the table. One person serves the ball, sets down the paddle, and moves out of the way while the person behind him picks up the paddle. The person on the other side returns the serve, sets down the paddle, and moves out of the way. If anyone misses the ball or hits it out of bounds, they’re out. When it’s down to two people, you stay in your spot but you have to set down your paddle and spin around once before you can hit the ball back.

    Other things my friends like:

    Those gym machines that are like skiing, I forget what they’re called. Yoga. Tai chi. Competition ballroom dancing. Dog walking/playing. Weight lifting–you can actually see yourself improving. Rowing (you need a team!). And my boyfriend really liked working on the production line at Dell, especially when he got the job of carrying things to or from the end of the line–he got very strong and fit!

    Things I want to try:

    More ballroom dances (no matter how many you know, there are always another one). Unfortunately, I’m spoiled for instructors.

    I’m also looking for more exercise videos I like so I can do things at home in the air conditioning. But I don’t like doing the same thing to exhaustion and then being told to do more and I’m still pretty clumsy, though it’s not as bad after all that dance instruction. A friend says you can find Body Flow videos online now. I might also like zumba ones.

    And I want to make my own version of that 12-minute workout so that I can quickly exercise lots of muscles.

    And I want to look for local walking groups. I tried a dance-walk group, but they went too fast for me to really get in any fun dance-style steps, though they also stopped for dance breaks along the way.

    • Debbie M Says:

      Oops, forgot to delete your questions at the top that I copied to remind myself what they were.

    • Leigh Says:

      Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that doesn’t require a belay partner. You’ve tried a lot of forms of exercise, Debbie!

      • Debbie M Says:

        Thanks, I’m old! Lots of time to try things!

        Okay, not really old, but middle aged.

        And yes, I do like bouldering. (You climb sideways instead of up.)

    • Leah Says:

      gym machines like skiing = nordic track and the like? We used to own one, and I LOVED using it as a kid. I also find rowing machines fun for short bursts of time (like a 5 minute quick workout).

  4. Middle class revolution Says:

    I used to enjoy horseback riding, yoga and dance classes. Now I just like to take walks.

  5. larlene Says:

    I like martial arts – spent 6 years doing karate with my daughter, from a kids’ programme that also took in adults. Then switched to hot yoga and now trying pilates – well, mostly classes that blend hot yoga and pilates. I like the focus required in these classes, because it keeps my mind away from other things. I’m also attracted to chanting groups, although I have yet to venture into a session by myself.

  6. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    I hate exercise in general. At least the gym has hot showers. I like yoga and pilates, but for me they’re not enough to fend off depression. I used to rock climb! That was fun. And I also used to hike a lot before I got sick. I garden for​ exercise some – digging and hauling are pretty good – but it has to be a time when I can get both sweaty and dirty.

  7. Emmagale Says:

    I like Scottish Highland Dancing, Crossfit, and Yoga.

    • Leah Says:

      I did Scottish Highland Dancing as a kid. So challenging! All that jumping. It is definitely a really good calf exercise. My legs looked great for years after.

  8. Leigh Says:

    One of the things that works really well for me with exercise is having a schedule and/or an exercise buddy. I really like barre lately. I’ve tried two of the four barre brands in my city and have been relatively happy with the one near my house, though it does depend what instructor I get so I’ve learned which instructors I don’t like and avoid them. The level of sweating depends on the instructor.

  9. monsterzero Says:

    “She had to fire her fencing master when she found out he voted for Trump…”

    Now I’m really curious: did she tell him why she fired him?

  10. Nanani Says:

    I joined a team sport (ice hockey) last year, and our season just ended.
    I wasn’t sure whether I’d like an organized sport, but I actually loved it and will go again next year (barring injury).
    I think finding the right league was very important in making it work, which for me meant: An all-women league, recreational rather than competitive, and a schedule that works with my life. I definitely would not have enjoyed at as much if there were stinky boys spitting everywhere.

    I also do yoga and really need to do more cardio but haven’t been able to make a habit of the latter yet.

  11. becca Says:

    I enjoy many individual sports.
    I used to enjoy gymnastics, martial arts and rock climbing. It would be hard to get back into those things now, but watching them I can feel part of me really wants to.
    I enjoy yoga and Zumba and like that I can drop in on those classes almost anywhere. Nobody seems to measure up to my favorite instructors, but I can still enjoy them.

    I still enjoy swimming a fair amount, although I get a bit more bored than I used to. I really like aqua aerobics classes or Zumba as long as they have good music.
    I enjoy running, but it will take me a while to get back to it. Same for biking, plus possibly some equipment concerns.
    I *love* kayaking and canoeing. This post has made me very excited I am now working near a large body of water, and can theoretically take a break midweek in the summer and go down and try stand on top paddleboarding or the like.

    • Leah Says:

      I love kayaking so much that I didn’t even think of it as an exercise. D’oh. To me, it is just plain, simple relaxation. Can’t wait to go visit my parents’ cottage once or twice this summer and spend a lot of time kayaking.

  12. Cloud Says:

    I enjoy exercise the most in two different ways: (1) I get to feel strong or powerful. This is why I like kickboxing so much, and probably also why I liked weight-lifting back when I could get to the gym. (2) I get to enjoy the outdoors. I don’t really like running, but I can do it outside. No way I can run on a treadmill. My favorite outdoors exercises are rollerblading and kayaking. I like kayaking best on calm water: so on the bay, not in the ocean. One warning on kayaking, though: get someone to teach you how to paddle or your arms will give out and you won’t enjoy it much. So I’d recommend renting from a paddle shop the first time out so they can teach you. I did some stand up paddleboarding last year on vacation, and I think it could be fun, too.

    Rollerblading is probably my absolute favorite exercise.

    • Cloud Says:

      I should add: I don’t sweat much when rollerblading, but I definitely get a workout. The key is to find a good route. You’re looking for scenic without too many people. So I like to rollerblade by the bay, but would hate to do it on the beach boardwalk (which is a sidewalk here).

  13. Norwegian Forest Cat Says:

    I used to be a runner / triathlete, but I have a pretty significant injury that probably won’t ever be fixed that will limit that in the future (the running part, at least). I am a gym rat now and really like it – I do semi-private training so someone comes up for my workouts for me and I have a standing appointment there (so I actually show up), but they aren’t hovering and watching everything I do since they are also training 2-3 other people. It’s the best of both worlds!!! It makes me so much more sane, and I started going because I was having a hard time handling things at work. I am still pretty squishy and don’t care about that, but I sure do feel strong (and too tired to get mad at people at work most of the time).

    I’m looking forward to getting on my bike more now that the weather is turning, and I’ll probably try to join a weekly cycling group once my life settles down a little. My ‘beer league’ softball team also starts up soon, which is a fun way to kill a couple of hours with people I like and get some sun. I think I may go on a lark and sign up for a curling team just for funsies this fall – I think it sounds kind of hilarious to do, but it’s not so exercise-y.

    My mom started doing tae kwon do with my brother when he was a kid, since she had to take him there anyway. She loved it, and I think it came at a really good time to make her feel powerful when others (at work) were trying their best to make her feel the opposite. My GP was telling me that he’s really gotten into orienteering – basically hiking/running, but also with a puzzle-ish component to it to make it more fun. I personally am terrible at all racquet sports, but lots of my coworkers here are into tennis and racquetball.

  14. Natasha Says:

    I am one of those people who have always been terrible at (any) sports. In fact, I’ve have never played any sports. I used to avoid exercise as much as possible – at least the organized sorts of exercise.

    As I am getting older, I feel I’ve reached a point where I MUST exercise, or my body will start to disintegrate. .

    I love walking – but usually this is not vigorous enough (I tend to daydream and slow down). Walking used to be very much part of my every-day life, but I changed jobs and now commute by car instead of subway/walking.

    I love hiking – need to figure out how to do family hikes (3 young kids here)… and with the kids, these tend to be very slow, meandering hikes (lots of fun, but not so great as far as exercise).

    I like biking, as long as I don’t need to go up and down hills. Used to bike all the time to/from lab when I was a grad student in a big city.

    Swimming – like the swimming itself, but not the changing in/out of swimsuit or smell of chlorine. Also, hate swimsuits.

    Right now, I do 30-min exercise videos on youtube (popsugar channel). I find 30 min is the ideal time for me (not too long… because mornings are crazy and everyone needs to go, go, go) and not too short (I get a decent amount of exercise and feel sore the next day). Also, I can easily find new exercise videos every day, so I’ don’t get bored.

    I’ve never tried Yoga – I am not flexible, at all. I’ve tried Pilates once and sucked at it. Plus I can’t do a lot of their half-reclined/abs moves on the floor because of an old injury.

    I see some people enjoy rollerblading and rock climbing – both look really awesome. I am too afraid to try any of those: total lack of coordination, fear of heights and fear of speed.

    I used to take ballroom and salsa lessons, but never thought of it as exercise. Perhaps when kids are grown, I’ll take it up again.

    Nicoleandmaggie: thanks for the topic. I am very curious to see what other types of exercise are out there – maybe I’ll find my true love!

  15. Lisa Says:

    Apparently I’m solidly with the couch potatoes after reading everyone else’s posts. I do like swimming, but it’s such a production and takes so much time out of the day. With my schedule and little kids at home, I hate to take more time away from home to exercise at night. Over the past year, I’ve switched from driving to campus to walking a ways and taking the bus. This works really well for me because it gets me (slightly) more active and it counts as my commute! I have noticed that it improves both my mood and my sleep quality. I’m now toying with the idea of jogging home rather than walking/bussing, but haven’t been able to make it work yet. Maybe next week!

  16. chacha1 Says:

    I like walking, but don’t do it much because City and Cars. To me the health benefits of moving across the earth are likely cancelled out by the health damage of pollution.

    I like doing yoga. Taught myself from the Sivananda Companion, and have been practicing alone at home since I was 28. I have taken only a few classes/coaching sessions over the years, concluded that I really prefer to do my thing alone at home. I do an average of 15 minutes daily, mostly hip openers, twists, and backward bends, and a single Sun Salute sequence that I designed. Truly feel it has helped keep me sane and mobile despite 28 years of working for lawyers.

    And I LOVE dancing. Did not discover ballroom until I was 32. Started in group classes, which were very uncomfortable at first (introvert) but gradually became fun and social. Still do social dancing with my husband. We have not competed since early 2014 (and that outing really doesn’t count because we put, like ten hours of prep into it) but I still dream we’ll get back to it one day when time/money ease up. One great thing about ballroom is that you can really do it at your own pace. A social dance class doesn’t move very fast, repeats a lot, and does not often get sweaty. :-)

    The downside of social dancing is you need a partner. I met my husband in class and it’s always been Our Thing. Going alone when your life partner doesn’t want to participate, from my observation, usually ends in resentment on at least one side.

    If I were solo, I would probably study tai chi, because it is something between yoga and dancing but does not require a partner. My understanding is that tai chi classes are very quiet, too, which I appreciate.

    • Debbie M Says:

      Heh, one of my deal breakers on dating is men who would have a problem with me dancing with other men. Fortunately, my current boyfriend (of many years) not only is okay with me dancing with other men but also has learned to dance himself. Woo!

  17. Linda Says:

    This is timely for me. Like #2, I’m dealing with some situational depression and also hate to sweat. A few months ago I joined a gym with a pool because I’ve found that when I’m exercising in a pool I don’t feel sweaty. I threw myself into aqua exercise classes and was going several times a week, but then I started having pain in my abdomen where I’ve had my surgeries and backed off completely. Now I’d like to figure out how to get back into doing a water exercise class at least once or twice a week but have significant mental barriers around it for some reason. Hating swim suits and the changing/cleaning up process are probably part of it, but also work has been really busy lately and it’s hard to block time that I can actually honor without feeling more stress. Plus, there’s the depression inertia to overcome.

    I used to love horseback riding, but had to stop due to the expense, too. *sigh* I had been thinking that if I signed up for a lesson once a week I could probably meet people who may need riders and would let me ride for a reduced price or even free. However, now I’m so ballooned up in weight that I think I’m too heavy for many horses. :-(

    There is a program I ran across on the local PBS station called “Classical Fit” that looked interesting. I DVRd some of the classes so I could try them and enjoyed it enough that I subscribed to an odd demand stream for a while. The instructor is a former ballet dancer and the moves are very ballet-like. I don’t get very sweaty doing it, either, which is a plus. I ended up buying a set of DVDs and cancelling the streaming service because it was a PITA connecting my computer to the TV. I should get back into them.

    Reading this thread has at least prompted me to add an aqua exercise to my calendar for tomorrow. I’ll be checking back to see if there are any ideas that sound like something I’d like to try.

  18. The frugal ecologist Says:

    I currently get about 30 min of exercise a day made up of walking the dog/pushing a double stroller, bike commute, and hiking (generally carrying a 25 or 30 lb kid in a pack – sometimes 2!).

    In the past I backpacked/mountaineered and rock climbed, did very active field work, went through a 2-3 year period where I worked out at the gym a lot lifting weights, Pilates, yoga, running. I’ve never been into swimming.

    My ideal would be a daily 3-4 mile bike commute, 3 runs a week & 1-2 yoga or weight sessions a week. I def lean to the couch potato side – there are months (years?) where I get very little activity. But I feel happier when I do & I like the way my clothes fit better.

    For non sweaty exercise – walk or leisurely bike commute, bouldering/rock climbing gym, lift weights (great time to listen to books/podcasts).

  19. jjiraffe Says:

    I do the elliptical, then the bike for 40 min 4 days a week with legs/arms lifting for 10-15 min. There are great routines online for weight lifting – I use my phone for those. I’m in and out of gym pretty fast. Key – my gym is bare bones but 5 min from my house, so I’m more motivated to go.

    I also do a circuit training or Zumba class once a week. Both are pretty focused so you don’t realize you are working hard until it’s over. Zumba is fun. No judgements from teacher or other participants.

    Good luck and sorry it’s been a hard time, #2.

  20. Flavia Says:

    I don’t particularly like exercising, but I like the effects (feeling calm and happy afterwards, keeping weight off, and the long-term health stuff), so I sympathize.

    My strategy is to take a novel to the gym and read while I do 65 min on the elliptical a few times a week. If it’s a good book, the time flies by–and since I don’t have a lot of space for leisure reading, it’s a happy solution.

    Otherwise, I take long walks. The end.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      #2 here. I do not feel calm and happy after exercise but I am curious about the elliptical thing. How do you read the book when you are bouncing up and down? Or is it an audio book?

  21. Crone Says:

    Walking, but not at stroll pace. Pilates for strength and flexibility and balance. Those in my family at your ages (I am old) like biking, hiking, circus school training (acrobatics/two person trapeze/silks and the fitness classes required to be safe for these ~ available in larger communities), one likes a ‘bootcamp’ style program.
    PS: Thank you for the support re staying politically active ~ action helps the terrible slough of despair.

  22. ivy Says:

    Another vote for rock climbing / bouldering (I prefer climbing routes to bouldering).

    I like it because it’s social but it doesn’t matter if you’re at completely different levels and it requires some thinking. Often getting up the route is just as much about body placement as anything else (oh if I twist my foot I can push up and easily reach the hold).
    Most gyms have boards up for belay partners if you don’t have a partner and want to do routes & many gyms have women’s nights (or similar).

  23. rs Says:

    my husband and daughter both go to martial arts classes 2-3 times
    a week (in this case, Korean one, Tang Soo Do, just because it was conveniently located near home, because the teacher is really great, and because he gives family rate too his students) together and kick each other even when they are home.

  24. Katherine Says:

    Recently since I am overwhelmed with work I just walk to and from work at a brisk pace. It takes at most 15 min each way, so it’s not *enough* exercise, but something is better than nothing. In grad school, I ran/jogged a lot, first alone (with podcasts) and then with my dog. I want to get back into more regular running or at least long dog walks.

    I was traumatized by team sports as a kid and will never play on a sports team again. I like individual exercise where I can feel like I’m making progress when I compare myself against my own previous state.

    I don’t like to get bored while I exercise, because then I stew in my unhappiness and make myself more depressed – this is why I quit bike-commuting in grad school. I sold my bike and it will probably be a long time before I can think about biking without thinking of how unhappy I was the last year I bike-commuted.

    I love sailing, but it can be expensive and now I don’t live in a place where I could sail anyway. In the past I have also liked yoga, but my enjoyment of it is really dependent on the teacher. I like having someone knowledgable correct my poses and make suggestions for how to modify them to accommodate the fact that I am one of the least bendy people on the planet.

    I really liked ballet in college. I also took a lap-swimming class (we had a PE requirement), which was fun since one of my buddies from another class was in it, too. She and I would get kickboards and chat our way up and down our lane. My vision is so bad that I don’t like swimming in public pools because I worry about where to put my glasses and how to find them again and navigating the world without them while I am in the pool, but that wasn’t a problem in the class since everyone was in such a good routine.

  25. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    As an undergrad, I liked to run. In grad school and for a while afterwards, I liked to do aikido—I’ve tried restarting that a few times, but I kept hurting my knees and finally gave up. In my first job, I did Scottish Country Dance, but that really relies on having a good group and a good teacher. When I moved here, the local Scottish Country Dance group wasn’t nearly as much fun, so my wife and I stopped doing it.

    I generally hate exercise, so I rely on bicycling for transportation as pretty much my only regular exercise. The daily climb up the 4% grade for 3 miles provides enough aerobic exercise. I probably need to do something for core and upper body, but I haven’t for years.

  26. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    P.S. I love how many of the commenters hate exercise.

  27. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    #1 notes that buying a rash guard and getting a skirt for her suit/suit bottom has made going swimming less of a production (less shaving and less sunblock!).

  28. Sunflower Says:

    I just joined Orange Theory Fitness. It’s a work out class that is more of the high intensity training (weights and cardio) – but has benefits that last a few days (meaning you work out one day but your body keeps burning extra calories for subsequent days). There is a definite “family” that develops at the studio and everyone is super supportive and non-judgy. They have free classes.
    I also love yoga, as it stretches and strengthens muscles I don’t even know I have!!

  29. LoAF Says:

    I used to like lifting weights. I found it sort of meditative. I don’t do it much anymore though. Now, I like running, which I used to hate. Then I kind of started to like running on a treadmill because it was easier to keep going (too easy to walk otherwise). Now, I hate the treadmill, and mostly only run outside. I think it’s good to force myself outside in bad weather (helps me tolerate winter better). I also like yoga now, once I finally got myself to work up the nerve to try. So now it’s just running and yoga. I mostly like to be able to do whatever by myself, to clear my head, and not have to compete with anyone but myself.

    I love kayaking/canoeing but rarely do either. Team sports stress me out, though some are fun in theory. I might like biking if it didn’t hurt my knees and if I weren’t afraid of falling. Rock climbing sounds fun, but not sure if I’d really like it. I need low injury potential. In my imagination, speed skating looks so fun!

    Sorry for all the bad things happening in #2’s world.

  30. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    I used to love bicycle road racing and training, but became way too time consuming once I became a professor. Now I try to walk ten miles every day, using that time to do all my work emailing. In the last six months I started pilates once a week, and it’s been transformative! My strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and postural awareness have skyrocketed, and my various musculoskeletal aches & pains much better controlled.

  31. J Liedl Says:

    Resistance training at the gym while listening to podcasts. Start with 20 minutes on the elliptical, then transition to the machines for an upper-body or lower-body intensive workout. I can do a lot in an hour, I can listen to fun or educational podcasts, depending on my mental focus. I also walk the dog at least once a day but doing the resistance training is the beeeeeeeest (besides horseback riding which I miss with the fire of a thousand burning suns, even if it’s been decades).

  32. Funny about Money Says:

    Walking & hiking. Yoga (in my house or backyard). Bicycling. There’s nothing I detest more than the gym thing.

  33. jlp Says:

    I don’t like my rowing machine, but I like that I can put on a pair of wireless headphones and watch tv while I do it. It helps pass the time and I can exercise in the house (don’t have to find child care if I do it while they sleep). (I also got the rowing machine off a local Craigslist-type forum for $50, so it’s been a great value.)

    I used to love doing yoga because it was the only way I could get my mind to shut. up. without external stimulus. Basically the poses require so much concentration (for me!) that I had to pay attention and stop chattering at myself (internally, I mean).

    I also used to love rollerblading/skating, but it’s no longer safe for me to do, now that my bones have become brittle. Sadly.

    There’s decent research that resistance training helps decrease anxiety. Given the link between anxiety and depression, I’ve wondered if resistance training might not help there too, but haven’t actually looked to see if there’s any evidence.

  34. bethh Says:

    Wow, lots of responses! I haven’t read them all but a local friend has really really enjoyed her judo class and was surprised at it. It requires a lot of mental focus and keeps her from spinning off on mental tangents. It’s also strategic and she found it very engaging. It also gives a person LOTS of bruises, so be prepared for some raised eyebrows/looks of concern.

  35. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    Pre-cripple days, I loved horseback riding, running, martial arts and splashing in the water though I couldn’t call that swimming.

    Now I like walking the dog and doing little jogs with him. Some hiking. Can’t do a heck of a lot more.

  36. First Gen American Says:

    The sports I enjoy the most are the ones that require my concentration to do them proeperly. So, I don’t like running or road biking or anything where my mind can still ruminate on work or things that I need to get done, etc. I need to get out of my head, not further into it. I do love hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, scuba diving, harder balance yoga classes, and group exercise classes because they require my full attention and that gets me out of my head and is stress relieving. Horse riding seems like it has the same kind of concentration required. I have only taken a handful of lessons so I am not sure. Maybe it does get brainless as you get better at it.

    I also work from home alone in my office so I also like anything that gives me a social outlet. I really enjoy walking at lunch with a friend.


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