Add cross training to make your fitness routine anything but

Paula Reece
Paula Reece

It’s been said variety is the spice of life, and there’s some truth to that statement. We get into daily routines and complete many of our tasks without thinking about them. We go to work at the same time, eat at the same time and take out the garbage on pickup day.

Routines can be a good thing in many situations. But what about your fitness routine? Are you doing the same exercises, going to the same class, walking on the same treadmill or lifting the same weights? Maybe it’s time to change that routine.

With fitness, adding a little spice could make boring more exciting and motivating. Sometimes you hear “change” or “different” and associate that with “new” and “uncomfortable.” As creatures of habit, it’s OK to like your comfort zone and its familiar surroundings, people and activities. 

Although doing the same thing over and over might be comforting, it has drawbacks. Without variety, things can get pretty boring. With fitness, it’s important to spice it up a bit. 

Let me introduce you to cross training, which combines two or more types of physical activities.

There are numerous benefits to adding cross training to your fitness routine. First and foremost is the motivational piece. Keeping interested and motivated to exercise is important. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you won’t do it. Cross training also can help you burn more calories by using different muscle groups. Plus, you reduce the chance of injury by doing a variety of exercises —  participating in a high-impact activity like running one day, followed by a yoga or Pilates class the next day.

It’s simple to create a varied exercise program. Plan a workout that includes the three areas of physical activity: cardiovascular, strength and flexibility. Under each area, write down what activities you like to do or want to try. Some activities fit under more than one area. Cardiovascular activities include running, jumping rope, riding a bike or even walking the dog. Strength training can include everything from push-ups to lifting weights to yard work. Flexibility activities include stretching or yoga.

Changing a fitness routine can be beneficial in more ways than just eliminating boredom. It can help improve your fitness level. Our bodies are adaptive and get used to an exercise routine. It becomes difficult to make changes in our bodies once they’ve adapted to a specific fitness routine. It’s important to keep our bodies guessing and mixing up the exercises we perform.

How do we change our workouts? Try something new. If there’s a favorite exercise machine you use often and don’t want to give it up, try changing the intensity, speed or grade. By gradually changing how hard you work, you’ll keep your workout challenging and not routine. Remember, when changing up your workout routine, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Once you choose your activities, plan them into your week.  Allow for variety and flexibility. Experiment with different activities to find what really interests you.  Continue to enjoy your favorite activities, but challenge yourself to try something new. Go ahead: spice it up.