When you commit to a new workout routine or other fitness regimen, you’re sure to enjoy a little extra spring in your step, as well as a natural emotional boost. And if you follow a good pre- and post-workout stretching routine, the little aches and pains you experience shouldn’t outweigh your motivation to keep moving and raise your heart rate.
But anyone who’s tried to keep up a fitness routine knows there are times when the muscles are just too sore, the air outside is just too cold, or the donuts are just too…on the way to work.
Rather than giving up on your routine, try these ideas to change things up.
Use Your Imagination
Here are at least two good reasons to take up running: The first is to reap its many health benefits, including weight loss, bone health, cancer prevention, and more. The second is to get away from hordes of freaky zombies who are trying to eat your brain.
Running, jumping, climbing, and moving heavy objects around. This sounds like a workout, sure, but it could also describe the make-believe adventures your kids dream up in back yard. Injecting a little fantasy or adventure into your workout isn’t just great cardio, it puts you back in touch with your inner child.
If your inner child needs a little coaxing, your phone or smart watch may be able to help. Zombies, Run! is a mobile app that uses an immersive storyline, voice-acting, and music from your custom-made playlist to put you in a world where you have to run to help yourself and your comrades survive after a zombie apocalypse. It’s just one example of a new generation of fitness apps that help to make your workout more like a movie or videogame.
Make a Workout Date
Having good friends is great for your health anyway, so why not try combining your social engagements with some healthy activity? Invite a few friends to bike to your favorite coffee shop, take a walk with a neighbor, or challenge your bestie to a game of one-on-one.
For a real fitness boost, try working out with a friend who’s in a little better shape than you are. You may find you perform better, and don’t even notice the extra effort.
Try a Group Fitness Class
What’s so great about group fitness classes? For one thing, the names are better. Compare Zumba or AquaBlast to, for example, jogging. And the excitement’s not just in the name. Group classes combine upbeat music, energetic instructors, and proven exercise science to make working out more effective and more fun.
There’s also the added benefit of the group dynamic. When you’re connected to others, you’re more likely to stay committed and make the effort, whether that’s going the extra mile in spin class or getting out of bed for the class in the first place.
Make Big Plans
When you have something exciting to look forward to, everything that goes into it becomes that much more meaningful.
When you plan your workouts to lead up to a big event—whether it’s a 5K, a triathlon, or even a company softball game—you give yourself a goal to fix your sights on and a built-in celebration for all your hard work.
If travel appeals to you, consider a destination event. There are thousands of half marathons, 5Ks and triathlons across the U.S. every year, so you may want to start by checking out the best or the most beautiful. If you’re truly adventurous, you could attempt to summit a fourteener (that’s mountain climber-speak for peaks taller than 14,000 feet). If you can clear a lot of time, why not undertake a life-changing hike—such as the Appalachian Trail in the eastern U.S. or the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
Whatever challenge you set, make sure you understand the preparation needed ahead of time. Know when you should check with your doctor before beginning or changing your workout routine.
And most of all, have fun! It’s one of the best reasons of we can think of to get up and get going.