Varying your exercise

Getting fit's not always easy, particularly if you've been inactive for a while. But even if you're feeling healthy and want to improve on current levels fitness, you'll feel more motivated and enthusiastic about exercise if your routine is interesting and varied. Don't make changes only when you're bored - get some variety into your routine right from the start.

Cycle…

…even if you don't have a bike. Try to cycle your exercise, moving from one kind of activity to another. You can do this by working out a weekly or fortnightly routine you can stick to, and doing one kind of exercise on each day, or switching from one type of exercise to another over a shorter time-frame. It's up to you - but remember that variation in exercise will also help improve your overall levels of fitness, rather than concentrating on one area of your body. Try switching between:

  • Cardio. Anything that gets your heart going and builds on stamina, such as strength training, classes, aerobics or running.
  • Strength training. Focus on upper body, then legs; take a circuits class for complete variation in your routine.
  • Alternate classes. Mix cardio sessions - take spinning, followed by a few upper body weights, running and cross-trainer sessions followed by cores strengthening exercises.

Improve…

As your fitness improves, try to keep your training challenging. It's tempting to increase your sessions or move onto advance levels too soon but improved, sustainable levels of fitness are a long term goal. Try these suggestions:

  • Change the order of your activity, and you'll see a marked difference in the kind of workout your body gets.
  • Increase the quantity e.g. the time you run for or the number of lifts you do.
  • Increase the quality of your activity, try to row at a faster speed or lift slightly heavier weights for example.
  • Try a new activity once in a while. Challenge yourself with a piece of machinery or kind of exercise you wouldn't include on a regular basis. Don't be put off if you're not getting great results in that new exercise - a change is as good as a rest for muscles, too.
  • Take longer recovery periods between sets of high level activity - consider doing some light stretching or body weight exercises to improve posture, balance and core strength.

Read more about stretching and body weight exercises. They're an excellent way to vary your routine.

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