Getting Bored With Your Exercise? Switch It Up!
4/18/2012 10:50:00 AM
A couple of weeks ago, I pulled my bike out of the garage to take my first training ride in preparation for the annual 126-mile bike ride I participate in. It was 5:30 a.m. on a rainy and cold Sunday, and I had organized these 6 a.m. training rides in hopes of meeting other people who planned to do this same long ride. When I arrived at our meeting place, no one else showed up. I waited and waited, and considered that I could still just do the short 10-mile ride myself. But then something in me clicked off and I decided no, I’m not going to start training for a ride that I have already done three times and in fact, I don’t think I’ll even do it again this year. I’m bored with it.
I wish I could say that I had a different set of thoughts that morning, but the purpose of this blog is to be honest. Honest about how hard it is to exercise, but then offer some tips that might help; honest about how hard it is to eat well when there are so many unhealthy but tasty alternative choices; honest about how easy it is to fall off the wagon — whatever wagon you put yourself on — but then provide some tips to help you climb back on; and honest about how the same old exercise and activities can become boring over a long period of time.
It’s human nature to want the next best thing. On average, we tend to have short attention spans when it comes to where we want to place our effort, and we lean toward instant gratification when it comes to food. Despite my efforts to resist these instincts, I’m no different and occasionally succumb to skipping a trip to the gym or opting for the cookies over the fruit. But I’ve noticed a pattern that serves as a warning sign to me: as soon as I feel like something in me wants to throw in the towel, I know it’s time to switch things up. I’m either bored or lonely in my routine, and probably both.
For the past 5 years, I have been focusing on running, cycling and swimming since I do a couple of sprint triathlons every summer. All three of those activities are solitary. Sure, you can run with a friend, but that’s if you find someone who is at the same level as you, with the same goals as you have. I’ll bet that 90% of the runners or cyclists you’ll see on any given day are alone. It’s the nature of those three sports, at least in terms of training.
What I realized that morning a couple of weeks ago, while hoping that other cyclists would join me for a training ride, is that I have become bored with cycling long distances alone and bored with running alone. This was a revelation that was both disappointing and enlightening. Disappointing because I realized once again how solitary we all are and how hard it is to make connections that work unless certain variables are in place, but enlightening because I realized it was time to move on to something new. I can keep running and cycling, but I need to switch up my goals and focus them on other activities, perhaps even something I’ve never tried before.
It’s time to shake things up a bit. It’s great to get into a workout routine. Routines help to keep us on track so we can stay committed to exercise. But doing the same thing for too long can lead to boredom, burnout and possibly giving up exercise altogether. Unfortunately, another element of human nature is our natural resistance to change, so here are some tips to help you turn things around if you’ve ended up in the same place I have:
Time to try something new!
1. Try using different machines at the gym: Have you ever noticed that there are different machines at the gym focusing on the same body area? That’s because people may like one over the other, or they may use both for variety. Try a machine you haven’t you used before. You might just like it more!
2. Try out a different sport: I love racquetball, but squash is more popular and accessible in New England, so I plan to try squash this summer. Chances are I’ll love it just as much and will then have a new and exciting activity to learn. Think about what you might like to try this summer. Golf? Join a clinic at a golf range — they’re going on right now and into the summer. Tennis? Check out Craig’s List and find an instructor who can give you a couple of lessons at your local court. Yoga, tae kwon do, hiking, softball, basketball, soccer, running, cycling, swimming, sailing, horseback riding? We live in one of the best recreational areas in the country and have access to just about any activity we could think up.
3. Sign up for a class: If you’ve never take a group fitness class, pick up a schedule at your gym or check out the adult education classes in your town. They will either be free or have a minimal cost, and you can try out something that focuses on the areas of your body you want to strengthen.
4. Get a video: If you don't exercise at home, you're missing out on a wealth of workouts. Visit Collage Video and choose something you've always wanted to try. It's a small investment and could open the door to a new way to exercise. And the best part is you can plan it wherever it happens to fit into your schedule.
5. Make your own workout: You probably have a good idea of what areas of the body you want to focus on and what exercises you like the most. Do them at home! Put on some music, grab some hand weights and do your thing. Does your house need a cleaning? That’s an awesome workout in itself. Yard work to do? Go for it. Even just 20 jumping jacks in your living room does the trick — anything to get you on your feet and get your blood going.
Switching things up every now and then will not only help to keep your commitment to a healthy level of fitness, it will also exercise different areas of your body and teach you something new. Fitness is not only about the physical — it’s also about keeping you mentally and emotionally active and healthy. Change is good. Look around and think about what you want, then make some changes to make it happen. Maybe we’ll even run into each other in zumba class, whatever zumba is!