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Practical jokes are good sport on April Fool’s Day, but most pranks don’t improve health and fitness. Real exercise does, however, and Naperville residents are serious about their sports. Soon, they’ll have one more very big reason to get out there and get their hearts pumping.

Construction is set to begin this spring or summer on CityGate Centre, a 245,000-square-foot, 4,500-seat multiuse complex in Naperville that will include two regulation-size ice rinks facilitating ice skating, hockey, basketball, concerts, theater productions, and expos. Everyone, from city planners to city officials, hockey fans and residents of Naperville, is “over the moon” about the development of DuPage County’s largest sports facility.

This is all very good news, because the benefits of regular exercise, especially for older adults, simply cannot be overemphasized. A regular physical fitness routine can lower the risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. It can also improve cognitive function, muscle, lung and bone health, bolster strength and mobility, lower anxiety and depression, and boost longevity. New studies come out almost daily touting the physical and psychological benefits of exercise. Fitness focused on fun, like the kind you get playing a game or sport, is even better.

But here’s the best news: Located at Route 59 and Interstate 88, the 25-acre CityGate Centre will be just minutes from Monarch Landing. Residents have already taken advantage of other nearby sporting venues. Lorraine St. Onge, for example, was rewarded with a trip to TopGolf across the street for working so hard in rehab after an accident. Other fitness-focused opportunities in Naperville include the stunning Naperville Riverwalk and Prairie Path system, of course, as well as Sky High Sports trampoline park and Ultimate Ninjas Naperville.

Indeed, with such a strong focus on team sports, outdoor attractions and high adventure in Naperville, there are boundless opportunities to making exercise fun. According to preventive care specialist Dr. Ernie Medina, Ph.D., “fun is the most important ingredient in fitness of all.” He maintains that the two are correlated and that the most effective fitness occurs when you’re enjoying – literally taking joy – in your physical activities.

“When you are not having fun, more willpower is needed to exercise,” said Medina, and excuses not to work out will likely win out. Furthermore, noted Certified Mental Health Counselor Jeffrey Danese, fitness raises levels of serotonin (our “feel good” hormone) for up to 12 hours after exercise. Add some fun to that mix, and you’ve got one happy combination. The physiological and psychological benefits of laughter cannot be denied.

At Monarch Landing, fitness specialist Shannon Denny won’t allow boredom or mundanity to seep into residents’ regimes. To her, fun in fitness is a laughing matter. Take, for example, a new balance and fall prevention class offered at Monarch Landing this month and next called “Help, I’ve Fallen…And I Want to Get Up by Myself.” That’s the just the sense of humor and good fun that guides several of the myriad fitness programs and classes here.

After all, as Bishop Brad Wilcox said, “If we can laugh at it, we can live with it.”