Our normal, everyday workout routines can quickly become mundane when repeated over and over again. To prevent boredom, it’s good to occasionally spice up your workout regimen with a little variety. Exercise scientists at the University of Florida found that those who modified their workouts every two weeks over an eight-week period enjoyed their workouts better and were more inclined to stick with their exercise programs as compared to individuals who followed the same workout routines week after week.
Additionally, varying your workouts will further enhance your fitness. By switching activities, you will also often be switching the muscles you are working out. This enables you to tone different muscles groups, such as the ones you might be missing from your ordinary routine. After performing the same routine for awhile, your body becomes adapted to the training and therefore doesn’t need to work as hard. According to acefitness.org, many of the body’s physiological systems adapt to an exercise program within approx. 6-8 weeks. Therefore, after about 6-8 weeks your workout will require less effort to perform, making it less beneficial for your body. As busy Americans, we want to get the most out of the hour or two we are able to put aside for exercise.
Personally, it’s essential for me to vary my workouts, especially when it comes wintertime. While I’m a huge runner, I get extremely bored of running on treadmills/ indoor tracks. To me, running is all about cruising through nature, letting the breeze sweep my face and flow through my hair, and the sights and sounds of the outdoors pass by my eyes. Winter weather, forcing me inside, greatly dampens my running experiences. While an occasional run on the treadmill makes me feel good, it’s not something I look forward to doing everyday. Instead, I look for alternative ways to make me keep wanting to return to the gym.
Varying your workouts is simple, but making the switch more enjoyable than your previous routine isn’t always easy. Sure, it’s not hard to switch from the treadmill to the elliptical to the stationary, bike but is this switch really much more exciting? If a small switch like that can make you perfectly happy then go for it! But if you need a little more of a buzz to get and keep your mind and body moving, try engaging in one of the following fun, heart-pumping, smile-bursting exercises.
- Hula Hooping: Bring out that jazzy, neon-colored hula hoop you’ve got stocked away in the closet. (Don’t have one? Try making your own). Hula hooping isn’t just for grade-schoolers and as adults, it doesn’t have to be saved solely for festivals. Make it a fun event anytime. Hooping is a magnificent cardio workout that simultaneously serves as a great ab workout as well. Hoop for an hour and you’re sure to burn at least 150 calories. As you become a proficient hula hooper, you can experiment with walking while you hoop and can make this exercise an on-the-go, portable game.
- Utilize the playground: Well, if you thought hula hooping was a little too childish, then this option probably isn’t for you. But, if you’re not afraid to let your inner child come out, then hit your local playground. The average playground has tons of elements conducive for working out. For instance, use the monkey bars to do a few pull-ups and then swing yourself across to the other end. Repeat the pull-ups on the last rung. You’re sure to feel this in your arms. Bring some free weights and do a period of step aerobics on the numerous steps interspersed throughout the playground. Break out into some somersaults and cartwheels on the nearby grass. There are tons of activities to do at a playground. And who doesn’t like a good swing? Get your legs moving as you propel yourself into the air. Swinging burns 200 calories an hour, all while mindlessly having fun!
- Turn up the tunes and bust a move: Dancing is one of the most pleasurable cardio workouts. Find an empty room, turn on some jams, and let yourself go crazy. If you think you can’t dance, who cares. There’s no need to be self conscious when you’re rockin’ out by yourself. Use this as a time to actually work on your dance moves, as you let yourself be immersed in your favorite music. Just letting loose for an hour will burn approximately 300 calories.
- Don’t you want to jump, jump, jump: So, there seems to be a theme when it comes varying your workouts and making them fun- Childhood activities. Think back to the days of elementary school recess. Ever engage in the classic jump rope? Maybe you even tried double dutch while belting out some innocent, catchy rhymes. While it wasn’t considered “working out” back then, jumping rope is actually a great way to get in shape. In addition to being a heart-pumping cardio activity, jumping rope is also a weight-bearing activity which is helpful in developing muscles and supporting the growth of bones. Jumping rope tones the arms and legs, and increases agility while developing the reflexes. And get this, it burns up to 1000 calories an hour! Try interspersing some jump rope throughout your normal workouts for an effective method of interval training.
- Laugh your heart out: Laughing tones the abdominal muscles, reduces stress, burns calories, and stimulates the endorphins. As you try the above activities, don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself or share jokes/funny stories with those around you. Studies have shown that laughing increases heart rate and calorie expenditure by up to 20%. During my yoga teacher’s training, we did this activity called “Laughing Yoga”. I’ll do a later post about it, but in brief you under go all of these laughing activities, and then laugh for 5 minutes straight at the end. You definitely feel it in your abs, and it gives you an unreal endorphin high! There’s no better way to have some fun and crack a smile than laughing, so try to incorporate it into your everyday workouts/life.
Before you ditch exercising due to boredom, try one of these innovative workouts. Even if you love your current exercise routine, these can be fun, calorie-burner additions to any regimen. Make working out fun, and it will be more likely to become a lifestyle choice rather than a chore. And if prefer working out with a group/in a social setting, don’t forget about team sports. Pick-up games are a great way to become a little childish once again and add a little running and friendly competitive-fun into your day. Whatever you decide, try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, and get out there and have fun! Also, don’t forget a good laugh every now and then!