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Bored with Your Exercise Routine?

We all have a tendency to become creatures of habit in most areas of our lives, especially when it comes to what we eat and what we do for exercise. Usually, routine is good; we know what to expect, how to prepare for our day, and with exercise, being in a good routine is necessary in order to reap the benefits that exercise has in store for us. However, developing a good habit of exercise does not mean you always have to do the same mode of exercise, like always walking, using the same DVD to exercise at home, or using the same machines when we go to the gym.

How do you know if it is time to change it up? One of the first signs that it is time to vary our routine is that we become bored or complacent regarding our exercise. Perhaps we even experience a “lack of change” that use to be taking place with our body. Being bored with exercise leads us to become complacent, and once complacency sets in, it is hard to overcome it. After eight to ten weeks of a structured routine, our bodies have made the changes necessary to meet the demands placed on our body by that routine. In order to continue to experience the benefits, we need to change it up! I know, I know, it is easier said than done, but I am going to make a few suggestions for how you can change things up without feeling like you have to do a major overhaul on your workout routine. Remember, variety is the spice of life!

•If using DVDs at home, consider purchasing different ones or checking with a DVD rental company (Blockbuster, Netflix, etc.) to see if they have exercise DVDs available for rent. If the current DVD you are using has a harder level or the instructor on the video gives harder modifications for the exercises, try doing those instead of what you have always done.

•If you primarily walk outside for exercise, consider taking a different route or just doing your current route in reverse! That way, those hills you always do first will come at the end of your walk and will be more challenging. Consider driving to a park or greenway to walk instead of walking in your neighborhood or at the local school track.

•When using a piece of cardiovascular equipment (i.e. treadmill, bike, elliptical, or stair climber), whether at home or at the gym, choose a program that is different from the one you always do. For example, if walking on the treadmill, instead of doing the manual program where you choose the speed and incline, choose one of the many programs that vary both the speed and incline over the course of the exercise time. You can always override the speed and incline if you feel the exercise is too difficult for you. If you are using an elliptical, stair climber, or bicycle, choosing the “Random” or “Interval” workout is a great option for variability instead of using the “Fat Burning” or “Manual” program.

•Rather than performing all 30 minutes on one piece of cardiovascular equipment, choose two different machines to use for 15 minutes each, or split your 30 minutes up between three different machines, doing 10 minutes on each.

•Instead of always doing your 30 minutes of cardio first and then doing weight training, reverse the order.

•For resistance training, if you have always used machines for your weight training, consider using dumbbells for some or all of the exercises you have been doing with a machine. Dumbbells require more body control while performing the exercise so they have a different effect on your muscles. If you work out at a gym, any staff member could show you a dumbbell exercise that correlates to the machine exercise you have been doing.

•Consider changing the order in which you do your weight training exercises; instead of doing your chest exercise first, start with back or shoulder exercises, then finish with chest.

•For more variability, intersperse intervals of cardiovascular exercise into your resistance training time. Below is an example using chest press and seated row exercises and the use of a treadmill:
Warm up of 3-5 minutes on the treadmill

Set #1 of Chest Press
Set #1 of Seated Row

Set #2 of Chest Press
Set #2 of Seated Row

Set #3 of Chest Press
Set #3 of Seated Row

Perform 1-3 minutes of high intensity exercise on the treadmill

Set #1 of first exercise in the next pair
Set #1 of second exercise in the next pair

oUse this model for all exercises you normally perform, keeping in mind that you do not have to have cardiovascular equipment available to you to do this. If you are at home doing weight training and without a treadmill, bike, elliptical, etc., consider jumping rope (or pretending to), doing jumping jacks, or jogging in place for the cardio portion.

•If you belong to a gym, consider taking a group fitness class for your cardio and/or weight training. Most gyms post class descriptions of the classes offered and most classes are a combination of cardio and weight training. Group fitness classes are a great way to get both cardio and weight training during a 45-60 minute time slot.

Of course, involving other people into your exercise time (family, friends, and co-workers) will help you stay motivated and accountable to doing your exercise. Now, get out there and exercise!!

Rebecca Johnson, BS, CPT
Exercise Physiologist

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