Humans are creatures of habit. We find comfort in consistency, which isn’t completely terrible, but sometimes it gets us stuck in a rut. Making a consistent habit out of exercising is one of the best steps you can take towards creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself, but if you’re goals go beyond just “getting healthy” (like losing weight, gaining strength, or building speed) you’ll have to step outside of your comfort zone. That includes avoiding an extremely habitual exercise routine by incorporating a variety of activities that will continue to challenge your body.
If you’re just beginning your fitness journey, try every exercise available to you. Until you experience an activity or sport first-hand, there’s no way to tell whether or not you’ll love it. Don’t brush off yoga because you think it’s only for the super-flexible or disregard CrossFit because it seems overly intimidating. And if you’ve already made exercise a priority in your life well, more power to you! When it comes to exercise, though, having a habit is good, but repeating the same workouts too often isn’t.
So, grab the group exercise class schedule from your local gym or do a quick Google search for new exercises to try and consider the following reasons why should add one or two new activities to your training cycle.
1. Get Hooked
Making a steady habit out of exercising means finding that one type of exercise you just can’t get enough of. If you’ve already got yours, great! (But refer to reasons 2 through 5 to find out why you should still try new exercises.) However, if you’re diving into the world of exercise for the first time and finding it hard to stay motivated, experiencing every type of workout will help you find your favorite fitness activity. No one is absolutely always motivated, but the most dedicated gym-goers successfully keep up with their routines simply because they’ve fallen in love with a favorite sport.
2. Increase Intensity
If you’ve built a healthy exercise habit and work out at least four to five times per week but have yet to realize the results you’re looking for, chances are you may need to increase the intensity of your workouts. Compared to moderate-level exercise (like walking on the treadmill or pedaling a stationary bike) high intensity workouts increase your heart rate to a much higher level (which in turn allows you to burn more calories) and recruit often unused fast-twitch muscle fibers, which play an important role in building strength and can help encourage weight loss.
If most of your sweat sessions err on the mild side, try adding activities like boot camp classes, kickboxing, or CrossFit to your workout routine.
3. Add Excitement
Did you ever consider that maybe you’re so tired of going to the gym because you’ve become uninterested? Think about how boring it would be to watch the same episode of a TV show every day for an entire week. Well, the same idea applies to exercise. We all have our favorite sports and activities, but no matter how much you love to run if it’s the only thing you do all of the time you’re bound to get bored with it, and maybe even eventually give it up all together.
Get motivated by signing up for fun workouts like Zumba, Pound, or Antigravity Yoga. Taking a break from your regular routine will help refresh your body and mind and looking forward to a new type of exercise will reignite your excitement for fitness.
4. Avoid Injury
Repeating the same motions over and over again (think swimming, running, and weight-lifting exercises) often leads to overuse injuries. In order to truly challenge your body and also keep everything in balance, it’s important to move your joints and muscles through multiple planes.
Depending on what type of workouts you do most often, incorporating low impact, cross-training exercises like yoga, rowing, or even cross-country skiing into your routine can help prevent injury and keep your body in balance by strengthening underused muscles.
5. Learn Something New
So what? You joined a CrossFit gym for a month and hated it. But you also learned a bunch of new exercises that you can incorporate into your own routine in a more enjoyable way. Trying a new exercise doesn’t mean you have to commit to it forever. The point is to experiment, explore and most importantly, have fun.