Starting an exercise routine is only half the battle. The next challenge is committing to that routine, in good times and bad. One way to keep your exercise routine interesting and enjoyable is to try new exercises, new classes or just new walking or jogging routes to mix things up a little.
If you’re following the American Heart Association guidelines of 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise, along with moderate to high intensity muscle strengthening activity for at least two days a week, and you feel like you’ve fallen into a rut, try spicing things up.
“You can do lots of different things in order to meet those guidelines,” says Catherine Loria, Ph.D., who is a nutritional epidemiologist and program director in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), as part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
When counseling people to stay motivated and active, Loria tells them that it’s important to choose an activity that fits their personality and lifestyle, while also trying new things to combat boredom.
Loria shared the following tips to change up any exercise routine and help keep your new regimen on track.
Start walking, running
Walking is something that just about anyone can do. It doesn’t cost anything, and it’s easy to mix it up, whether through your pace or your surroundings. Make it more social by joining a walking club or an organized hike. Keep cool (or warm) by walking laps at your local mall. Explore your town’s parks and neighborhoods on foot, while reaping the benefits of exercise. Once you’re comfortable walking at a brisk pace, start running gradually.
Join a gym
If this is a feasible option for you, a gym offers a number of opportunities to try something new. Sign up for a class, step on a new machine, meet new potential workout friends and explore all of the workout opportunities that come with your membership. Even though the process of getting to the gym can feel like you’re sacrificing work or family commitments, remember your commitment to your health and well-being should be a top priority.
Work out at work, home
Even 10 to 20 minutes of light exercises with free weights or small, similarly weighted items around your house can help jumpstart a longer, recommended workout routine. Buy workout equipment you can use at work, like an under-the-desk bicycle or stability ball. Or, try this 20-minute at-home workout routine you can do in your living room.
Keep it fun
If you’re getting bored on the stationary bike, or those walks have become a drag, think of things that you enjoy that can make exercise interesting. Sometimes, reading a book while on the stationary bike or listening to audio books while walking is all you need for an extra motivational boost. Change up your cardio routine with outdoor bike rides (don’t forget to wear a helmet!), or by switching from land to water with swimming or water aerobics.
Get flexible with strength training
If you’re already lifting weights twice a week, introduce a new form of strength training into your routine. Exercise or resistance bands and Pilates moves will work different muscles and add something new to your workout regimen.
Try calming, relaxing workouts
We often think working out has to involve moving quickly to break a sweat—and sometimes, this can seem more overwhelming and stress inducing than beneficial. But workouts can be calming and relaxing. Yoga and Pilates are great ways to work out and reduce stress.
Start keeping a workout log
Noting and tracking your goals can help you stay on target. This is also a great way to look back at the different types of exercises you haven’t done in a while and sprinkle those into the routine. Write down the different workouts you plan for the week ahead to help motivate you to accomplish them and ensure they are unique and exciting.
Remember, working out in two 10- to 15-minute segments per day can also help you achieve your fitness goals and improve your heart health. Learn more daily workout tips on Go Red.