Exercise is important for physical and mental health. For people who have already settled on favorite activities, such as golf or figure skating, keep it up. There is no special reason that you need to change. However, not everybody has already cultivated activity preferences. The question that we try to answer here is:
What is the most enjoyable way to exercise?
I am proud to say that I have collaborated on seminal research in this area.1 Our results point to the importance of
- complex activities that take place in complex environments,
- unpredictable activities that require a lot of skill to master,
- activities that offer a lot of scope for creativity;
- activities that feel high stakes; and
- activities that present novel situations.
In addition, I think it is prudent to require
- low probability of injury or concussion, and
- a minimal amount of equipment or built environment.
Although the research has not been done yet, I would also weigh facets that support group flow.2
Based on the above criteria, I have identified two activities that seem particularly promising: