Everyone should consider varying their exercise routines for two fundamental reasons: (1) to prevent boredom from doing the same things and workout after workout and (2), to avoid reaching a plateau in your workout performance and subsequently, training results.
Research has shown that adding variety to an exercise program can improve fitness. Exercise scientists observed that individuals who modified their workouts every two weeks over an eight-week period, appeared to enjoy their workouts more and were more inclined to stick with their exercise programs, compared to individuals who followed the same workout regimens week after week. Varying your exercise routine can also help you stay physically challenged.
Many of the body’s physiological systems (e.g., the muscular system) adapt to an exercise program within approximately six to eight weeks. If you do not modify your exercise routine, you reach a plateau because your body has adapted to the repetitive training stimulus.
There are several ways you can spice up your current workout routine, including boosting the intensity of your workouts.
For example, if you walk or run, try incorporating some intervals of jogging or sprinting or adding more hill work to your route. You can also cross train and perform different activities to provide your body with a new challenge. A nice alternative for resistance-training exercises (which due to gym closures might be hard to execute, but if you have a home gym with weights) involves changing the sequence in which you perform the training exercises. By fatiguing the muscles in a new order or pattern, you are requiring them to adapt to a new training stimulus.
Keep in mind that doing the exact same workout, day after day is not necessarily a bad thing. Some people enjoy a predictable, consistent routine. They don’t mind the possibility of experiencing a training plateau and are content to maintain their health and fitness levels with a comfortable exercise habit. However, many individuals need to push themselves to new levels and try different activities to stay enthusiastic and excited about their workouts.
By varying their exercise routines, individuals can not only stay physically challenged, but mentally stimulated as well.
- Break Through a Weight-Loss Plateau.
When you do the same activity all the time, your body gets used it and becomes very efficient. Eventually, that adaptation will mean that you burn fewer calories even when you’re doing the same amount of exercise. The solution: Challenge your body in a way that it’s not used to. Your body will have to work harder as it adjusts to the new activity, which means that you’ll burn more calories when you work out. And don’t forget to eat sensibly; regular exercise and a healthy diet are both important for weight loss.
- Prevent Overuse Injuries
There’s a reason why you get hurt when you put your body through the same motions over and over again. It’s called a repetitive strain injury. This type of injury often occurs from doing lots of repetitive motions, such as running, hitting a tennis ball, or golf ball, or poor grip lift weights repeatedly. By mixing up your activities, you give those overused muscles, joints, and ligaments a chance to rest and recover before putting them into action again. And if you do get injured, performing a different activity that doesn’t strain the same part of the body will allow you to stay in shape and heal at the same time.
- Build New Muscles
Ever notice how you can quickly identify a professional swimmer by his powerful arms and shoulders and a long-distance runner by her chiseled legs? That’s because professional athletes focus almost exclusively on one sport — and that sport builds very specific muscles. But for recreational exercisers, the best approach is to do a little of everything. That way you’ll build a strong heart (for endurance), muscular legs and a powerful upper body. You’ll look great and be physically ready to take on a variety of sports and activities.
- Beat Workout Boredom
If you find yourself literally counting down the seconds left in your elliptical workout or can hardly stand the sight of the same streets as you run down them, it’s time to switch up your routine. Keep your workouts from getting stale by constantly trying new things. Venture into a Zumba class for a total change of pace, or just try tweaking your usual activity.
For instance, instead of running the same distance at your customary pace, add some speed intervals. After you’ve warmed up, do a series of 30-second sprints followed by two minutes of slower jogging to recover. Keep repeating that, and you’ll reach the end of your run feeling invigorated.
- Help Keep Your Brain Healthy
Exercise is essential for keeping your brain sharp and helping to prevent memory loss. And learning new skills also helps keep your neurons firing better. So learning a new exercise activity is a double-whammy when it comes to brain health. Ballroom dancing and other activities that require some skill and memorization are a good option. The key is to choose activities that keep you engaged; don’t pick things that you can do on autopilot. You don’t need to overly exert yourself to reap the benefits of exercise for your brain and memory, but you should exercise regularly. Research shows that active
individuals have a lower risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), and stroke, which can affect memory.
- Meet New Workout Partners
One of the best ways to stay engaged with exercise — and committed to a regular schedule of activity — is to find a group of people you want to workout with…or JOIN THE SWEAT SQUAD. And what better way to find someone than to try a new activity? Join a running group to find a partner to meet for jogs, try the Sweat Squad or find someone you can go for bike ride with. Invite a friend to join you in trying the Sweat Squad.
- Get Excited About Exercise Again.
When too many days in a row go by that you’d rather hit the snooze button than hit the gym, it’s definitely time to make a change. It may take a little trial and error before you find a new workout you enjoy, but stick with it until you do. Then, change up your routine so that you include several types of activity every week. You’ll see better results and have a lot more fun doing it.