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Switch Up Your Exercise Habits to Optimize Your Fitness Routine

Posted 7/30/2018 by UHBlog

Concentrating on the same sport or exercise for extended periods of time can get boring, and can cause injuries, too. Talk to us about optimizing your fitness routine.

Young couple exercising in the park

Mixing up your workout routine has benefits far beyond avoiding boredom – it can help you avoid injuries, too.

Switching up your exercise habits helps to prevent overuse injuries that can result from continually putting stress on the same muscles and tendons, and puts you more at risk for developing things like tendonitis, bursitis and stress fractures, says physical therapist Bethany Brennan, PT, DPT, SCS.

“It can also help to prevent plateaus, where muscles stop getting the same increased benefits from the exercises or activities,” she says.

Lastly, when you’re bored with your exercise, it can result in lackadaisical effort, leading to diminished benefits and possible injuries.

How to Mix It Up

There’s several ways to inject novelty into your exercise routine, Ms. Brennan says.

Change up your activities, or at least change the way you perform those activities, Ms. Brennan suggests. For example, if you lift weights, try incorporating some new lifts or increase your number of reps.

Or consider taking time off from a sport that you’ve played for a long time.

“If you’re a tennis player, for example, it’s a good idea to take a break from tennis for awhile and participate in a different sport,” she says. “It helps to avoid that same repetitive overhead arm motion for a period of time.”

Cross-training is one form of exercise that Ms. Brennan recommends as a good way to mix in a variety of different exercises.

Try a New Activity

Some good warm-weather activities to try for a change of pace include:

  • Kayaking – It’s good for core muscles and offers a chance to get out into fresh air and nature. Similarly, stand-up paddleboarding is an activity that is growing in popularity.
  • Walking and hiking – “Northeast Ohio has some great places, like the Cleveland Metroparks,” Ms. Brennan says. “But even walking around your neighborhood is very beneficial – and it doesn’t require any special equipment.”
  • Swimming – Swimming is an ideal exercise that is low-impact, yet works all of the body’s muscles.
  • Bicycling – Another low-impact activity that is great for cardio fitness.
  • Playing with your kids – “It doesn’t have to be a specific exercise or routine to be beneficial,” Ms. Brennan says. “Spending some time outside playing with the kids, or participating in an informal group sport like volleyball can be a fun way to keep your body moving.”

Many people find that moderate exercise outdoors, like taking a walk, also helps to de-stress, Ms. Brennan says.

“The advantages are more than just physical,” she says. "A nightly walk can be beneficial for decreasing stress and anxiety, along with the benefits of the exercise itself.

“Sometimes a crowded gym is the last place that somebody wants to go at the end of a busy day at work.”

Bethany Brennan, PT, DPT, SCS is a physical therapist at University Hospitals Mayfield Village Health Center. You can request an appointment with Brennan or any other healthcare provider online.

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