Are you in an exercise rut? Doing the same workouts over and over and losing motivation? Exercise boredom is a common feeling which can lead to quitting. But prepare for an athletic kick up the butt, because we have all the answers to stave off the monotony monster forever.
Firstly, it’s not just you. Even Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington recently revealed she could find her endless swimming sessions boring. But she used various techniques to stave off the boredom before it sapped her motivation. Because people are motivated by different things, the key is to discover what suits you to gain maximum enjoyment from your workouts. Here’s some of the best ideas.
Keep the mind busy. Long sessions of repetitive exercise such as running, swimming and cycling can be mentally challenging. Doing the same motion over and over and over again..... mile after mile, length after length.....it’s not surprising we get bored. The key here is to give the mind something to focus on.
Ideas might include simply counting backwards from 100; reciting the alphabet backwards; count the number of swimming strokes you do and try to better it; count the number of stride you can do between cracks in the pavement or lampposts; or take a more meditative approach by focussing on your breathing patterns. Even taking the time to mull over a current life issue or making a weekly menu plan can help keep boredom at bay!
Add variety to workouts. If you are bored of your 3 runs a week, change one of them for a workout DVD or an exciting group class such as Zumba. Ask to watch a new exercise class at your local gym, watch some classes on YouTube or get a DVD.
Changing the environment can make a big difference: if you’re usually on a treadmill at the gym, get outdoors instead. Sick of your usual running route? Do it backwards! If you usually do free weights at home, visit the gyms once in a while to try out heavier duty commercial ones.
Change the actual workout by adding intervals, props like exercise balls and wrist weights. Increase the number of reps whilst lowering weights, or try out some heavier weights for the first time. Do your routine backwards, or start with a different muscle group. Even just buying yourself a new top or pair or trainers can add interest and motivate you to use them.
Up the intensity. Sometimes boredom can develop because you’re not challenging yourself enough. For example, it’s hard to be ‘bored’ doing Tabata or any other short-lived high intensity training which requires concentration. Increasing the intensity should also improve results – a great motivator! Review your workouts every 3-4 weeks and jiggle things around if you sense boredom lurking. Any slight change will stimulate the mind and muscles. Why not try Rebecca Adlington’s suggestion of adding wrist and ankle weights to workouts to add interest and intensity?
Measure your progress. Make sure you notice where you’re improving. For example, take regular measurements around your waist, thighs and biceps, and measure your resting pulse. Seeing results is great for motivation, negates boredom and helps you feeling proud of the good you’re doing to your body. Some people even make Excel charts complete with bar charts!
Work out with a partner or team. Someone to chat to, to laugh with, to motivate you and to pile on the guilt if you don’t turn up to your workouts. Many people find an exercise buddy can make all the difference to their enjoyment of exercise. Even if you don’t do the same exercise or are training for different events, just meeting at the start of sessions is extra motivation.
If you don’t know anyone to join your exercise endeavours, check out your local community sports groups e.g. football, badminton, running clubs. Most levels are catered for and will get you mixing with people who can motivate and support you.
Get competitive. Competing can put a whole new meaning to exercise. Event deadlines keep you focussed and determined which pushes rising feelings of boredom into the background. Even if you’re not entering an event, get competitive with yourself. Setting goals for each session such as beating your last time, or lengthening bursts of high intensity exercise by 1 second, helps keep your mind focussed on that session, and stops you looking too far ahead.
Embrace technology. One of the best ways to distract the mind is listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks. Plenty of people watch DVDs or even manage to read a book while on the treadmill or stationery bike. You can even buy waterproof mp3 players for swimming now. Use a heart rate monitor add to show calories burned, average heart rate and maximum heart rate. A huge range of exercise apps are also available for smartphones to add spice to your sessions.
Try one new idea each week until you’re looking forward to your workouts. There are so many different ways to workout nowadays there’s really no reason to put up with boredom again.
by Kath Webb
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