You know that you need to exercise. You’re probably even more aware of it during this time of year when you’ve spent the holidays consuming your weight in gingerbread. But if you’ve been slugging away doing the same workout day in and day out, you may be stuck in a rut and forgotten why you’re even exercising in the first place. Here’s a quick reminder of some of the top health benefits of exercise:
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Weight control
- Increased joint and bone strength
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Improved mood and cognitive function
- Decreased risk of stroke and heart disease
Consistency is crucial with your fitness routine, but eventually you’ll need to add variation. Let me show you why.
- Switching Things Up Can Help You Bust Through Plateaus
Your body is lazy and it wants to find the easiest way to do something. If you remember back to high school (minus the acid washed jeans) you may recall homeostasis. This is your body trying to keep balance and stability. When you do the same exercises consistently, your body doesn’t become as receptive to that stimulus as it learns how to do the exercises with the most minimal response it can. If you’re looking to get stronger, you’ll need to increase resistance over time, push out some extra repititions, and alter between different repitition ranges to challenge your body.
- Variation Can Lead To Increases In Lean Muscle
Lean muscle not only looks good but it’s important for metabolism, posture, and increased bone density. The problem is that if you’re doing the same 3 sets of 10 constantly, gaining more lean muscle is going to be pretty difficult. You need to keep the muscles guessing in order to stimulate the growth of new muscle tissue. You can do this by:
- Switch the order of the exercises you do
- Create new exercise combinations
- Slow down your muscles time under tension – between sets aim for 30-45 seconds rest
- Cycle between different rep ranges
- Add in new exercises
- Engage in some high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
Your body needs a constant challenging stimulus in order to respond back with increasing muscle mass. The best workout is the one you haven’t done yet.
- New Types of Training Can Increase Mental Stimulation
One of the amazing things about exercise is its ability to enhance memory, concentration and creativity, but if you’re slugging away on a treadmill watching ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’, brain activity is most likely shut down . Giving yourself something new to focus on will better engage your brain. Even getting outside for a hike is a better ‘train for the brain’ as there is a constantly changing terrain and environment.
Wrapping It Up
Trying something new will help enhance and improve your overall physical and mental fitness. It can also expose you to new activities and challenges – finding hidden talents and skills you didn’t know you had. So, if you’ve been stuck in a fitness rut, expand your fitness options by taking a yoga class or joining a sport league like squash, tennis or volleyball. Engage in some new activity and before you know it you’ll be seeing and feeling the positive results and progression.
Jamie Logie is a personal trainer and health and wellness coach (PTS, NWS). He’s worked in gyms in Canada, U.S, England, and Australia. He runs www.regainedwellness.com and is a contributing writer on health and fitness for The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, LifeHack, askmen.com, and has an Amazon #1 book called ‘Taking Back Your Health’.