Get Results by Changing Up Your Exercise Routine
By Delsie McCoy, MS
Stuck in a rut? Bored with your workout routine? In the same way that plateaus may occur during weight loss, you may experience a plateau with your exercise program, particularly if you’ve been doing the same routine for some time now. One way to alleviate boredom and to see results again is to change the intensity of your exercise by adding intervals to your workout. Interval training boosts fitness and burns additional calories during exercise.
The idea is simple: work hard for a period of time, then slow down to recover and repeat. To add intensity, either increase the speed of your selected activity or add resistance. For example, on the bike or elliptical you would increase RPMs; if walking, increase speed or add a slow jog. To add resistance, walk uphill or take the stairs, increase the incline on the treadmill, or ratchet up the resistance level on the bike or elliptical.
You can add either measured or varied intervals. Measured intervals involve working hard for a specific time period or distance and recovering for a specific time or distance. Increase intensity by working hard for 30 seconds to 2 minutes followed by a recovery period where you work moderately for 1-5 minutes.
Varied intervals are even simpler: work harder for as long as you can comfortably and then recover for as long as you need to get ready for the next interval. For example, if you are a walker, set your sights on a tree a few hundred yards away, do a slow jog to the tree, then walk until breathing comfortably again. To begin, try adding one or two intervals to your workout once or twice a week. As your stamina improves, add more intervals.
IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that more vigorous intensity isn't appropriate for everyone. If you have a chronic health condition that limits vigorous exercise, or if you have not established a basic level of fitness, this may not be for you. When in doubt, consult your doctor. If you’re healthy and have been exercising for a while, challenge yourself! Change up the intensity of your workouts; you may be surprised by the results.