My partner often talks about The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart, which, in a nutshell, is a book about how someone leaves every decision to a die to decide. However, the book gets really dark from what my partner has told me about it, nonetheless; the concept struck a chord with me. When the pandemic hit and my partner and I started to do exercise sessions together by video chat, I suggested we incorporated The Dice Man method. We did this by allowing ‘chance’ to decide what exercises we do to keep us from suffering from fitness boredom. I’ve always found that exercising can become boring, real fast, which doesn’t help with motivation.
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The Benefits Of Exercising For Our Mental Wellbeing
Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but your mental health and overall wellbeing. It’s why exercise in one shape or form is always recommended by your doctor or therapist. People have been reporting the benefits of exercise on mental health for as long as I can remember. One such group of people were Taylor, Sallis, and Needle (1985), who said that for clinical and non-clinical people, physical activity and exercise might help improve mental health and even prevent mental health conditions forming, through the effects fitness has on improving self-confidence, cognition, and self-esteem.
Another such group of people are Stathopoulou, Powers, Berry, Smits, and Otto (2006) who conducted a meta-analysis that supported Taylor, Sallis, and Needle (1985) claims. Their meta-analysis was conducted on 11 studies, the results of which indicated that exercise can be a useful intervention in battling clinical depression. Due to the results they found, they believe fitness-based intervention should be recommended to patients with depression to coincide (not replace) with other treatments, such as CBT therapy or the use of a pharmacotherapy approach (i.e. antidepressants).
These findings were also supported by Morgan, Parker, Alvarez-Jimenez, and Jorm (2013) who performed a review of the evidence of the benefits of exercise on mental health. Their review found that exercise may help improve the symptoms of mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression, as well as improving the functioning of those with psychotic disorders.
What Is Fitness Boredom?
As human beings, we’re creatures of habit. Our brains love a shortcut so we form habits and routines to save energy by allowing our brain to create these energy shortcuts so we don’t have to waste time and effort on thinking. However, these shortcuts might make things easier for us, but they sure don’t make things interesting, especially in the gym. For the most part, most of our habits and routines go largely unnoticed by us, but when you’re trying to exercise, fitness boredom is a real problem that’ll sap your motivation and turn exercise into a chore. But we don’t want exercise to turn into a chore if we’re using it to support our mental health.
A big part of keeping exercising fun is trying new things or to allocate different exercise sessions to different tasks. For example, if you were a bodybuilder you might have leg day, chests and arms sessions, and cardio sessions. Listening to different playlists or working out to an audiobook are other ways you might be able to combat fitness boredom. But if you’re anything like me, that’s not really enough on its own.
Using ‘The Dice Man’ To Alleviate Fitness Boredom
One of the main problems with exercising is fitness boredom. Exercise can become boring quite easily, especially if you’re not doing it for a specific reason, like training for a marathon or wanting to increase your muscle mass. So to try and keep fitness interesting and you engaged in exercising, why not add some randomisation to your workout. You could avoid fitness boredom by using dice like in The Dice Man. In The Dice Man, the protagonist makes daily decisions based on the roll of a die. But in this instance, you’ll be using a die to determine your exercises so you never know what you’ll be doing, thus helping to avoid fitness boredom.
There are several ways you could use dice to spice up your exercise routine. One way would be to create a list and roll a dice to pick which exercise you’ll do from that list. Another way to do this would be to separate your exercises into several categories and then roll a die for the category you want to focus on during specific stages during your exercise session. For example, you could have 6 warm-up exercises you roll a die for to start, then another 6 for cardio to follow which you’d then roll a die for.
Obviously, the effectiveness of this would depend on how many sides your dice has. You can get dice with a lot of different sides and if you play tabletop games like Warhammer 40,000 by Games Workshop or D&D then you’ll be familiar with multi-sided dice, but have you seen the 100 sided dice?
The first thing to do might be to sort yourself out some dice so you can use them to randomise your exercise routine. Then, you might want to start searching online to check out exercises, such as checking out yoga poses. While you’re checking out exercises online, you can then create the list for your dice rolling. Once you’ve finished your exercises list, you can either break the exercises up into segments, like strength, cardio, and stretches and assign them numbers that will correspond with your die or assign them a number as a single long list of exercises.
You could also do what my partner and I did, and combine them both, sorting them into categories of exercise but also giving each their own number, so you can mix up how you’ll randomise your exercise session. Furthermore, you could even have different exercise lists for the different days you’ll exercise on, so you can avoid repeating any of the exercises again that week.
To help you get an idea of how to use the dice method to avoid fitness boredom, below is the exercise list my partner and I use once a week. This list of exercises can be done with a D50.
1. Star jumps.
2. Knees to chest.
3. Heels to bum.
4. Jumping on the spot.
5. Squat and jump with a turn.
8. Side leg raises.
9. Back leg raises.
10. Knee to shoulder.
11. Extended leg rotations.
12. Extended leg squeezes.
13. Bicep curls.
14. Chest press.
15. Chest fly.
16. Lat pulldowns.
17. Glute bridge.
18. Russian twists.
19. Bicycle crunches.
21. Side lunge.
23. Tricep extensions.
25. L-shaped tricep raises.
26. Squat and raise.
27. Lunges (forward or reverse).
29. Child pose.
30. Cat pose.
33. Quad stretch.
35. Lunge with knee down.
39. Happy cat/sad cat/disco cat.
40. Spine twist stretch.
41. Figure of 4.
42. Pike fold.
43. Straddle fold.
44. Side stretch.
45. Twisted side stretch.
46. Figure of 8.
47. Downward dog.
48. Standing forward bend.
49. Knees to chest with a rock.
50. Supine twist.
To make these exercises extra random, you could randomise how long you’d do them for as well by using your dice. For example, if you used a six-sided dice, you could have: 1 = 30 seconds or 10 reps, 2 = 40 seconds or 20 reps, 3 = 50 seconds or 30 reps, 4 = 60 seconds or 40 reps, 5 = 70 seconds or 50 reps, and 6 = 80 seconds 60 reps.
Alternatively, if don’t want to have to carry dice around to roll dice whenever you’re in the mood to exercise, you could use a dice rolling app or a random number generator. I’ve given a few a try to there’s two I’d recommend. Sorry to all your iPhone uses, but I’m an Android user and the ones I tried I couldn’t find in Apple’s app store.
Random number generator
This random number generator app was one of the first I tried, and it’s a pretty straightforward app. You just need to set your number range, for example, from (1) and to (50). You then have the choice to set if it’ll be allowed to repeat any number or not, then you just click the refresh button, and boom, a number is generated. After each exercise is complete, generate a new number so you know what you’re doing next.
Random Number Generator Plus – Dice, Lotto, Coins
This app is a little more advance and doesn’t come with any ads, at least none that I’ve seen so far. With this app you can use it to generate a list of numbers all at once, so say you have 160 different exercises in your list, you could set the minimum number to 1 and the maximum number to 160. Once you’ve done that, you can pick how many numbers you need, so if you wanted to do 15 different exercises, then put in 15 and tap the generate button and I’ll give you 15 different numbers in a list. Job done. Now you just have to work through them.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences of fitness boredom and exercising for your mental health in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget to bookmark my site and if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
Morgan, A. J., Parker, A. G., Alvarez-Jimenez, M., & Jorm, A. F. (2013). Exercise and mental health: an exercise and sports science Australia commissioned review. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 16(4), 64-73. Retrieved from https://www.asep.org/asep/asep/JEPonlineAUGUST2013_Morgan.pdf.
Taylor, C. B., Sallis, J. F., & Needle, R. (1985). The relation of physical activity and exercise to mental health. Public health reports (Washington, D.C.: 1974), 100(2), 195–202. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1424736/pdf/pubhealthrep00100-0085.pdf.
Stathopoulou, G., Powers, M. B., Berry, A. C., Smits, J. A., & Otto, M. W. (2006). Exercise interventions for mental health: a quantitative and qualitative review. Clinical psychology: Science and practice, 13(2), 179-193. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2850.2006.00021.x and https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mark-Powers-3/publication/229476052_Exercise_Interventions_for_Mental_Health_A_Quantitative_and_Qualitative_Review/links/5b951c4f4585153a53114485/Exercise-Interventions-for-Mental-Health-A-Quantitative-and-Qualitative-Review.pdf.