Living LifeWise: Get Exercise By Doing What You Love

Living Lifewise Thursday, September 18, 2014 Written by

Living LifeWise is a regular column provided by LifeWise Ambassadors – LifeWise employees whose healthy choices are helping them live better lives. Today’s column is provided by LifeWise Ambassador Sarah Swanberg.

Do you remember being a kid running and playing for hours and hours without taking a single break? You had the energy to ride a bike, swim in a pool, run around playing tag, and still want more. At least that’s how I remember it. Now that I’m an adult, I have about a fraction of that energy.

I suck at making time for exercise. It has never been a priority for me. I’m always running (no pun intended) from here to there and by the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is put on my shoes and head back out for a walk or workout. There’s so little time. Plus, frankly, I just don’t enjoy it.

So I have to find a way to exercise by doing the things that I enjoy. If I’m doing something I like, I forget that I’m exercising and don’t immediately quit.


During the summer, I spend two weeks volunteering at a residential children’s oncology camp. There are no people movers or elevators at camp, so the only option to get from point A to B is to walk. I brought my FitBit with me to camp in June and was determined to hit 10,000 steps by the end of the day.

On the first day of camp, I hit 16,632 steps — before lunch! It was a huge surprise to me, because I rarely hit 10,000 steps in a normal day. I felt a surge of accomplishment, and found a new reason to love my time at camp.

Plus I thought: If I can be active at camp, why can’t I do it at home? I set my mind to continue when camp concluded.


Turns out, there is one form of exercise I do enjoy: biking. I haven’t ridden a bike much since I was a kid, so when I climbed on a tandem bike with a camper I was expecting to either a) fall off, b) hate it, or c) both. What I didn’t expect was to love it and get such a great workout. After an hour on the bike, winding the roads and hills near camp, I felt rejuvenated and a little bit sweaty. Especially after my bike partner quit halfway around the loop and I was stuck pulling the bike along! I had a new appreciation for an activity that I had completely forgotten about.


Imagine you’re on a grassy field with 90 little humans, throwing wet sponges at each other in a giant game of tag. Chase a group of kids around for an hour, and you are burning roughly 300 calories. You won’t realize it, because you’re having fun and laughing alongside the kids. But you’ll feel it the next day when your arms are sore. Trust me on this.

Volunteering at camp made me realize that I don’t have to work out in the traditional sense to get exercise. Since I’ve been home, I bought a mountain bike, I take regular walks, and I’ve been kayaking regularly. I get the exercise I need, and all I have to do is “make” myself do something I love!

What do you love to do that gets you out and about? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!