Often the biggest threat to a regular workout schedule is losing interest. It's like when you go to a restaurant and continue to order the same thing off the menu each visit. No matter how tasty the dish, sooner or later you're bound to get tired of it.
Discover Rush Online spoke with Chuck Cranny, PT, MBA, clinical manager of outpatient physical therapy at Rush to get a few ideas for keeping things interesting, so that you don't lose your appetite for regular physical activity.
"Motivation is key," says Cranny. "And part of staying motivated is avoiding boredom. I think it really helps to have a game plan, something that will keep you going and make sure that your enjoyment continues down the road."
Cranny suggests doing things that are both motivating and interesting, like exercising with a friend or using a certified personal trainer. "Taking a class where you'll meet new people can really motivate you," says Cranny. "Many fitness classes can teach you a variety of ways to get to your fitness goals, so that you have more of a menu to choose from when you're on your own."
Spicing up your workout:
- Mix up your cardio: Change the style of aerobic exercise you do — ride the stationary bicycle one day, choose a stair climber or treadmill the next day.
- Be creative when it comes to your strength: Change your style of resistance exercise — lift free weights one day, choose the weight machines the next day.
- Establish a solid core: Do exercises that strengthen and align your core (your hips and trunk). "Pilates is great for this," says Cranny. "Many exercise instructors also incorporate core strengthening in their routines. If you're taking a class, just ask your teacher."
- Try on a new activity for size: Try different exercise classes or martial arts, for instance. A good teacher will keep things fresh for you. "Plus, the regularity of a class can set a pattern for getting you in the gym at a certain time. This gets you in the door; which is often half the battle," says Cranny.
- Try a change of pace: Change the pace of your workout — when you do resistance exercises you can change both the amount of weight and/or number of repetitions accordingly. Try more weight with less repetition one day. The next visit you may want to do repetitions more quickly with less weight (always paying attention to maintaining good form and using a full range of motion). On another visit you may want to use a more moderate pace for your repetitions.
- Become a team player: Join a team and get your exercise in while participating in a group sport. Cranny warns about making this your only form of exercise, though. "If you're only getting out there once a week, you're opening yourself up to injury."
- Take on a partner: Recruit a workout buddy. "This is a great way to be more dedicated to your workout," says Cranny. "Make the effort to show up for a friend can keep you going through the long winter months."
"You have to be even more creative in the winter months to make things interesting, because many of the options for physical activity outdoors are not as feasible," says Cranny. "Winter, however, is a great time for overall conditioning and there's a wonderful payoff to staying motivated and having a varied routine. You'll lay a strong foundation for a more active spring and be conditioned against injury."
Always check with your physician before you start any exercise program or participate in any demanding physical activity.
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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.
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