Lorn Healthy Options weekly health tip – June 2

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Do you need to mix it up a little?

I often hear that one of the main reasons why someone has stopped their activity programme is boredom.

They have developed a way of becoming more active such as walking, gym sessions or a fitness class but over time the repetitive nature of their programme has led to lethargy and a lack of motivation to carry on.

This can be especially true if you do the same walk every day or use the same gym kit in the same way each session.

This can also bring about an issue when it comes to burning off calories as the human body becomes much better at energy saving as it perfects certain techniques. Therefore our ability to co-ordinate certain movements improves but in doing so you will burn off less calories as you become more efficient.

Now for those who wish to improve their functional capacity, co-ordination and balance, becoming more efficient is no bad thing and this is the same process that elite performers use to perfect their abilities such as a gymnast or musician. Repetition breeds perfection.

Repetition can also breed boredom and this is often cited as one of the main differences between elite athletes and the rest of us – they can cope with the boredom of repetitive training sessions.

Most of us will not threaten the Olympics, so how could we introduce a little variety to our activity programme and stop our workouts becoming stale?

Certain forms of activity can supply an ever changing menu of activity , such as gardening for example. Those lucky enough to have a decent sized garden will testify to an everchanging list of jobs revolving around digging, planting, earth moving, pruning and grass cutting. A garden is just a big outdoor gym with natural seasonal challenges.

But what about those who carry out the same walk on a regular basis? Obviously we can choose some different locations but this is not always easy in terms of appropriate paths close to home where perhaps we can get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

So what about introducing some small detours to incorporate a gradient or set of steps?

You could introduce some changes of pace for a short period followed by a slower period of recovery time. Interval training is a great way of improving our cardiovascular performance and takes us out of our comfort zone.

We may also be able to make use of outdoor structures to incorporate some additional resistance work. Press ups against a wall for example or what about some sit to stands on a picnic bench? Don’t worry about who is watching, they won’t be laughing when they see your improvements in the years to come!

Some also find music a great motivator so why not develop a few favourite playlists which you can listen to during your walk or work out?

Perhaps you could pick up your pace for the faster tracks and then add in a few more sedate numbers for recovery time.

If music is not your bag what about an audiobook or podcast to keep you entertained?

Alternatively why not take the plunge and try a completely new activity?

There are lots of local activity groups who will offer guidance and companionship, and you may just find that broadening your health and wellbeing horizons was the catalyst that maintained your forward momentum towards a fun, fit and functional future.

Rob Graham, lead exercise professional, Healthy Options.