How to Love What You Do – Plus 100 Ways to Disguise Exercise

One of my favorite quotes is by historian, Arnold Toynbee:

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.”

Following up on last weeks article, The Fun Theory and Why It Will Never Last, I wanted to expand upon the advice offered at the end: love what you do, and practice it.

Maybe you’re thinking…

Sure, that’s easy for you to say. But I just don’t love exercise. In fact, I can’t stand exercising. I’d rather endure Chinese water torture than exercise for an hour three times a week.

Fair enough. No one’s twisting your arm into an exercise program. Instead, I’m going to propose something else entirely – two things actually. In my mind, you have one of two choices that will help you decide if you’ll reap the most out of a physical lifestyle:

1) Change your mindset towards exercise

It’s common to perceive exercise in a negative light. It’s hard work, usually uncomfortable, and seems like a sacrifice in order to get a reward.

Some people think of exercise in this way, and yet still commit to doing it day-in and day-out. It takes tremendous willpower, something that must come from within. It cannot be taught or implanted in someone else. Some people “just do it.”

The simple truth is that you cannot motivate someone else to do something. Motivation lies within us, and we cannot change what motivates us into action. But you can still override your motivation and take action anyways. So, even if you hate exercising, you can still tuck your chin in, grit your teeth, and commit to exercising regularly if you have the willpower to do so.

But that’s not really motivating advice at all, is it? It works for some people, it’s true. And some people live their lives perfectly content with the fact that it takes tremendous sacrifice to get rewarded. But this is not the only way. Oh, no no no NO!

Pure, mechanical willpower works for some, but it’s entirely different to will yourself through sacrifice than it is to sacrifice willingly.

Willpower vs Willingness

This is the first choice that I’m proposing: adopt a mindset of willingness rather than willpower. Again, this may not be for everyone, which is why there is another proposal below. However, if you change your mindset, and start focusing on all the positives of exercise, you may find that you would willingly practice it. And there are so many positives for regular exercise, it would be quite a task to list them all (and I mean quite a task, probably an entire volume of encyclopedias).

The problem is not a lack of information regarding all of the health benefits of exercise, or even a lack of knowledge for that matter, because it’s common sense that exercise is good for our health. The problem is a lack of experience. Almost everyone who practices some form of an exercise program for at least 2 weeks reports specific, measurable health benefits that occur during that time. Sometimes it happens in even less time. And when I say “health benefits,” I’m not just talking about superfluous things like improved blood test numbers, lowered risk of heart disease (and practically every other disease), or more comfortable bowel movements. Those things are boring and certainly not a strong incentive to exercise! (At least, not for me. It might be different for you.)

When I say health benefits, I’m talking about people who actually start feeling better. Things like: feeling less tired throughout the day, sleeping better, having noticeably more energy, not getting winded after going up the stairs, experiencing less joint pain or back pain. In a sense, these aren’t health benefits, they’re LIFE BENEFITS, and this small sampling is only the beginning. And the best news is that they can be yours if you adopt the mindset of willingness to exercise regularly.

Turn negative thinking on it’s head and adopt a mindset of willingness to exercise because it’s one of the best decisions you could ever make. But if that doesn’t work for you, then there’s another viable option…

(Food For Thought: how can you know it won’t work for you if you haven’t tried it?)

2) Never exercise a day of your life again

OK, it’s official, Sifferman just went off the deep end. What on Earth would make a fitness professional, someone who teaches exercise for a living, offer the advice to never exercise again?

It’s simple really. If you hate exercising, if you cannot force yourself to exercise with sheer willpower, and if you cannot change your mindset to willingly adopt an exercise program, then your only solution is to never exercise again.

Instead, I propose that you…

drum roll, please – dododododododododoodododododoodododododododododoodododo

go out and play.

…Say wha?

I said, go out and play.

Yes… but, we’re talking about exercise…

Who says play cannot involve physicality? Who says play cannot involve vigorous physical movement. Who says play cannot involve cardiovascular, strength or athletic challenge?

…ah, I see, it looks like play can be exercise in disguise.

Precisely! Watson, you’ve done it again! You’ve solved the mystery. When we play, we often get great exercise as a complementary side-effect. They often go hand-in-hand.

It’s so simple, I almost feel dumb writing this. But then I remember that this was advice I once needed to hear (actually, dozens of times). It was a classic case of, “I know, I know, playing is a great idea, now tell me something I don’t know.”

But it wasn’t until I practiced this, and ultimately internalized this truth that I came to understand the power that play has in our lives.

If you miss this all-important concept, you’ll miss out on so much enjoyment and satisfaction out of physical living. It’s another one of those secrets that’s looming right before our eyes, if we would only just accept it, and more importantly, practice it.

So, I’ve just given you 2 suggestions to help you love what you do:

1) Turn negative thinking on its head and adopt a mindset of willingness to exercise
2) Disguise exercise and go play

I should probably add a third…

3) Don’t read this and forget it, and don’t be lazy. Take action on what you’ve just heard. It’s too easy to read some good advice and stuff it in the back of our memory, never to think about it again. Be proactive.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

And with that said, here’s a list of 100 things you can do today that will involve exercise in disguise, some moreso than others…

  1. Archery
  2. Airsoft bb wars
  3. Backpacking
  4. Badminton
  5. Ballet
  6. Baseball
  7. Basketball
  8. BMX riding
  9. Bowling
  10. Boxing
  11. Canoeing
  12. Capture the flag
  13. Circular Strength Training
  14. Clubbell sport
  15. Cycling
  16. Dance Dance Revolution on Xbox
  17. Dancing
  18. Dodgeball
  19. Dog walking
  20. Field hockey
  21. Fly fishing
  22. Football
  23. Frisbee
  24. Golf
  25. Grappling
  26. Gymnastics
  27. Handball
  28. Hide and seek
  29. Hiking
  30. Hockey
  31. Horseback riding
  32. Horseshoes
  33. Hula hooping
  34. Hunting
  35. Ice Skating
  36. Indoor wall climbing
  37. Jogging
  38. Juggling
  39. Jumping rope
  40. Kayaking
  41. Kettlebell sport
  42. Kickball
  43. Kickboxing
  44. Laser tag
  45. Leapfrog
  46. Martial arts
  47. Mountain biking
  48. MovNat
  49. Paintball
  50. Ping-Pong
  51. Playground obstacle courses
  52. Playing catch
  53. Pogo sticking
  54. Potato sack racing
  55. Racquetball
  56. Red Rover
  57. Rock Climbing
  58. Roller Blading
  59. Roller Skating
  60. Rowing
  61. Running
  62. Sailing
  63. Sardines
  64. Scuba diving
  65. Skateboarding
  66. Skiing
  67. Skipping
  68. Skipping stones
  69. Sledding
  70. Snorkeling
  71. Snowboarding
  72. Soccer
  73. Softball
  74. Snowshoeing
  75. Squash
  76. Steal the bacon
  77. Surfing
  78. Swimming
  79. Taekwondo
  80. Tag
  81. Tennis
  82. Throwing sports
  83. Track and Field
  84. Trampoline
  85. Treadmill
  86. Tug-of-war
  87. Twister board game
  88. Ultimate frisbee
  89. Unicycling
  90. Volleyball
  91. Walking
  92. Water-skiing
  93. Weightlifting
  94. Wheelbarrow race
  95. Wiffle ball
  96. Wii sports games
  97. Windsurfing
  98. Wrestling
  99. X-country skiing
  100. Yoga
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Related Posts:

Why Play is Vital No Matter What Your Age

John’s #1 Secret for Compliance to Your Exercise Program

John interviews the Play Master, Frank Forencich

To your health and success,

Fitness Professional


Image attribution:

10 Responses

  1. John, you read Carse’s book “Finite and Infinite Games?”

    Check out his most recent blog post –

    • I haven’t heard of Carse before, actually. That’s a thought-provoking blogpost, but I’ll decline to comment.

  2. Good article, John! Gave me some things to think about. Maybe I’ll take up Leapfrog and Potato Sack Racing. :)

  3. Great list. Naturally, with the new year I’m making a commitment (again) to get out and play more and get in shape, too!! May I suggest adding Geocaching to the list?? It’s not always super strenuous, but it can be depending on the difficulty of the hike to get to the cache! True, you need a GPS to find the hides, but that small initial investment seems worth it considering the return of outdoor activity either alone or with friends and family!!

    Great site. Thanks so much!!!

    • Thanks Bender. I’ve actually done one or two geocache hunts in the past with my family. Good times!

  4. Hi John, I have a countless number of excuses, but when my dog look at me, and I see in his eyes that he is dreaming about a walk, No 19 from your list is a must : )
    BTW, what breed is your dog? I saw him in lot of your videos.

    • Ronin is a purebred akita. And I hear ya, dogs need to be walked daily if possible. I prefer to let him run off leash whenever we go hiking or visit the local park – that’s the best exercise they can get.

  5. Love the list and the new site! I find it hilarious that the Wii made the list…whatever gets people off the couch! Thanks for sharing such great content.

  6. Thanks Richard. Wii games can be a good time once in awhile, but certainly not as demanding as wrestling or tug of war :)

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