Everyone knows that regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it can often feel like a chore. This is especially prone to happen if your routine doesn’t change much from day to day. Perhaps you only run or walk, and take the same routes every day. Maybe you only lift weights, and do the same reps or moves on a rotation. Whatever your exercise routine, variety is the key to both enjoying and sticking with your commitment to fitness. Here are a few of the best reasons to add a little variety into your exercise plan.
- Variety breaks monotony and boosts motivation, preventing burnout.
If you ask most people why they stopped working out, they’ll probably say they lost motivation and interest. Committing to an exercise plan is hard enough, so if it’s also monotonous and boring, you’ll have an even harder time sticking with it, long-term. Something as simple as changing up your walking or running route, trying a workout DVD, going for a hike, or doing a different weight circuit at the gym can boost your motivation and keep you going back for more, day after day.
- Variety keeps exercise fun, and helps you discover new things you enjoy or excel at.
If you always do the same workout routine, you’ll eventually view exercise as just another item on your to-do list. Exercise shouldn’t be just about burning calories and building muscle: it’s about having fun while staying active. Some people love distance running, while others hate it. Some people enjoy barre or yoga, while others enjoy Zumba or kick boxing. With new exercise styles coming out all the time, there’s a lot to choose from, so make it a point to occasionally try something new that appeals to you.
- Variety in your exercise routine works different muscle groups to balance your fitness.
Cardio, strength training, and balance/agility practice all work different areas of your body and improve unique aspects of your fitness. Even though it can be tempting to stick with what you know and are comfortable with, it’s important not to focus too much on any one aspect. Long-time runners know they need to strength train and stretch, and weight lifters understand the necessity of cardio sessions and staying limber. For balanced fitness, incorporate a variety of workouts that touch on all three of these fitness aspects.
- Variety through cross-training prevents injuries.
Another reason to incorporate all aspects of exercise into your fitness routine is to avoid troublesome overuse or muscle-imbalance injuries. Performing the same motions over and over again without adequate rest can lead to severe injuries such as pulls, sprains, tears, and stress fractures, many of which will take weeks to recover from. This is why, for instance, runners fit in cycling or swimming to offset the repetitive motions of weight-bearing, and almost all athletes benefit from yoga and stretching. Keeping your muscles strong, balancing the stress on different areas of your body, and maintaining flexibility are all important to staying healthy and injury-free.
Considering these benefits, it should be obvious how important it is to maintain variety in your exercise routine. In fact, don’t let it become routine. The more you mix it up, the greater the enjoyment you’ll associate with it, the longer you’ll stick with it, and the faster you’ll reach and maintain your fitness goals.