Fitness Slump? Shake it Up!
By Krista Elliott
We all know how important it is to stay fit and active, with exercise benefiting our hearts, muscles, joints and our mental health as well. But it's difficult to remember those benefits when you're spending yet another hour on the hamster wheel ... sorry, the treadmill.
A fitness routine can very easily turn into a fitness rut. And not only does this sap your motivation, but it also doesn't do your body any favors.
Uneven Training: When you stick with the same kind of exercise all the time, you're not exercising your entire body. Some of your muscles will become strong, while others just sort of sit there, passively going along for the ride. By shaking up your routine and trying new things, you're increasing the number of muscles that are actively getting used, making for a stronger and healthier you.
Too Good at Their Job: You know how when you first try something, it's difficult and you have to put a lot of energy into it? But then as you get used to it, you find it easy, and it takes very little exertion? Your muscles are the same way. If you use them the same way every time you work out, they get very, very efficient at those movements. And efficient muscles are muscles that aren't being challenged. By throwing new movements at them, they have to work harder, which is great news for your body.
So if your brain and body are bored with your workout, why not try something new? Even small changes can make a big difference, and you can even stick with the exercises you love best, if you alter them a bit.
Running: If you're a runner, throwing interval training, hill or stair work, or backward/sideways running into the mix will keep things interesting and will challenge your body in a new way. Stopping every few hundred feet for a few pushups will be a fun challenge that gives your upper body strength a great boost.
Biking: Whether you're outside or on a stationary bike, it's easy to get into autopilot mode. If biking outside, change your path periodically and be sure to throw some hills into the mix. And feel free to join your running brethren for a few push-ups every couple of miles. On a stationary bike? Try pedalling backward for awhile, and invest in a set of dumbbells to round out your workout.
Swimming: Swimming is great exercise, but if you stick solely with freestyle, or the front crawl, you're missing out. Throw in a few lengths of the backstroke, breaststroke, sidestroke or butterfly to shake things up a bit.
You can even take things further and try out a new sport or fitness activity altogether! Take a dance class, try fencing, or even just join your kids for a game of tag.
By using your body in different ways, you can keep fitness fun and effective, making it more rewarding than ever before.