Adding Variety

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Written for Protocol Driven Healthcare Inc.

Adding Variety to Your Current Activity


If you’re looking to add more variety to your exercise routine, good for you!
This probably means that you’ve already taken steps to become active.
Adding variety helps keep you focused and motivated, so you are much
more interested in sticking with your exercise program.

In this lesson, we’ll look at:
     varying the types of activity
     varying the intensity levels
     changing your routine in other ways

Varying Activity
A complete exercise program includes:
    aerobic activity to build strength and stamina
    strength training to build and maintain muscle mass
    stretching to keep you flexible

Combining these in new ways makes exercise more interesting. And
different types of exercise strengthen different muscles, lowering your
chance of injury.
Covering all the bases
For a complete workout, try activities that include all three components:
aerobic activity, strength training, and stretching.
    Stretch before an aerobic dance session. Then finish with resistance
    Alternate brisk walking with lifting free weights. Stretch after each

After doing strengthening activities, take a day off. Or alternate days for
exercising specific muscle groups. You might do arm exercises one day and
work your leg muscles the next. Plan your workouts accordingly.1

Trying new activities
If you’re in the habit of doing certain types of exercise all the time, try some
different activities that use the same muscles. For instance, if you walk or
jog, try line dancing. If you lift weights, you can shovel snow; if you do sit-
ups, try yoga.2 To be safe, introduce new activities one at a time, not all at

Test Your Knowledge
Question: Preventing boredom is just one benefit of doing a new type of
Different types of activity work different muscles. With stronger muscles,
you are less likely to become injured.

Varying Intensity

You can “mix it up” by varying the intensity level of your activity.
Alternating higher and lower intensity activities engages your mind and
challenges your body. Just remember to make intensity changes gradually
to prevent injuries.

Changing aerobic intensity
Boost your aerobic activity by doing it longer, more frequently, or faster.3
For instance, you can:
    walk for 45 minutes instead of 30 for one of your walking sessions
    swim 3 times instead of 2 every other week
    alternate race-walking with regular brisk walking in 5-minute
       segments for 30 minutes

Intensity and strength building
Strengthening activities include working with free weights, resistance
machines, or resistance bands. They also include exercises in which your
body works against gravity, such as sit-ups and crunches.

To raise the intensity of strength-building exercises, you can:
    increase the amount of weight,
    increase the amount of resistance, or
    increase the number of repetitions.

For example, for part of your lifting session replace 10-pound weights with
ones that weigh 15 pounds. Gradually increase the number of lifts with the
heavier weight.

Test Your Knowledge
Question: One way to raise the intensity of strengthening activities is to do
more stretches.
This is false!
The ways to raise the intensity of strength-building exercises are to increase
weight, increase resistance, or increase the number of repetitions.

Changing Routines
You may be used to exercising in the same place, with the same people, or
with the same equipment. This can get tedious, making it harder to stick to
your plan. Try battling boredom by finding new settings, new gadgets, and
new company.

New environments
Some ways to change your exercise environment are:

    going for a walk in your neighborhood instead of using a treadmill
    taking an active vacation: swimming at the beach, hiking at a park, or
     exploring a historic area on foot

What good are gadgets?
Add some new equipment to your routine, such as a pedometer or heart
rate monitor. You can then set new goals, such as increasing the number of
steps you take or reaching a target heart rate during an exercise session.
The gadgets can add a new dimension to your routine and help you keep on

People power
Exercising with a friend can help you stay motivated and committed to your
activity plan. You can encourage each other during the rough spots—and
enjoy each other’s successes as well as each other’s company.

Test Your Knowledge
Question: Varying the time and place of your activity can be a good idea.
This is true! Varying the time and place you exercise can fight boredom,
which increases the likelihood that you’ll stick with your activity.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity for
everyone: guidelines: adults.
Accessed December 16, 2010.

2. Mayo Clinic. Weight training: Improve your muscular fitness. Accessed
December 16, 2010.

3. York Hospital. Exercise: adding intensity.,S,85149.
Accessed December 17, 2010.

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