Do you feel like you’re stuck on the same old treadmill? Exercise done routinely has enormous benefits. Mixing up your exercise routine has benefits, too.
Changing up your exercise will do more than just break up the monotony that may come from doing the same exercise routine over and over again. There are some real physiological and psychological benefits that come with adding variety to your exercise routine. Psychologically, changing your exercise routine can help keep you from getting bored. Variety is the “spice” of an exercise program.
Physically, adding variety to your exercise routine is beneficial for multiple reasons.
- Doing a variety of types of exercises works different muscle groups. The more types of exercise you do the more muscle you use. The more muscles you use the better your overall strength and endurance.
- Exercise variety can also help you avoid overuse injuries. Rather than repeatedly stressing the same muscles with each workout, varying the exercise routine helps build muscle that would not otherwise be used.
Simply going outside for a walk, rather than using a treadmill, is a potentially very important change to your exercise routine. While both are walking, doing so outside is very different than walking on a treadmill. With a treadmill, the ground is moving underneath you. Walking outdoors, you are required to move yourself over the ground. While getting a little fresh air, walking outdoors will better prepare you for your “everyday” walking such as going grocery shopping.
A change to your exercise routine can also mean changing the exercise intensity. While the benefits of light to moderately intense exercise are enormous, there are more potential benefits that can come from exercising at higher intensity. Alternating short intervals (2 to 4 minutes) of higher intensity with equal time at a lower intensity will help you improve your fitness which is very important to your overall health.
These are just a few of the benefits of mixing up your exercise routine. There are others. It is important, however, that when you are making any changes to your exercise routing that you do so in a sensible fashion. Making dramatic changes suddenly can result in injury. Making changes gradually will allow your body to safely adapt to a new exercise routine. Adding variety to your exercise routine may help keep you motivated while improving your health.
Patrick Savage, MS, is a Senior Exercise Physiologist in Cardiac Rehabilitation at the University of Vermont Medical Center.