You don’t have to drastically change your exercise routine to get results. Often small changes to your current routine are all you need to accomplish your goals. Whether you are just getting started or you feel like you are in a rut with your current program, try some of these minor changes that improve fitness.
Take time to stretch.
Flexibility has a big impact on normal daily activities. Bending, reaching, and walking become more difficult when your muscles are tight and your range of motion is limited. Flexibility training should be as much of a priority as your strength and cardio exercises. Take 5 minutes after each workout to stretch all your major muscle groups. Take a break from the computer during your work day and perform a few stretches at the office. Also consider incorporating activities that focus on flexibility like yoga, Pilates, dance, and martial arts.
Add higher intensity intervals.
It doesn't matter what type of cardiovascular exercise you choose, incorporating short bursts that pick up the pace or increase the resistance is an easy way to challenge your cardiovascular system and boost the number of calories burned. If you walk on a treadmill, increase the incline for 1 minute every 5 minutes throughout your workout. You can do the same thing on a stationary bike by increasing the resistance. If you exercise outside, pick up the pace and walk quickly or run faster during these intervals. The low-intensity intervals will help you recover between each high-intensity burst.
Pick up more weight.
Once an amount of weight becomes easy for you to lift, your muscles are no longer challenged. Without a challenge, the muscles can’t continue to gain strength. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), once you can lift a weight one to two more times beyond your repetition goal, it’s time to increase the weight by 2 to 10 percent. This small change is enough to get your muscles back on track with strength gains.
Never pass up an opportunity to move.
Even short bursts of activity, like climbing a flight of stairs, gets the heart pumping and burns calories. Taking time to move more throughout the day can also give you a break from your environment and help you return with a refreshed outlook for problem solving. When possible, turn these short bursts into slightly longer segments of at least 10 minutes. The ACSM continues to support the idea that multiple short sessions of at least 10 minutes count toward your daily goal of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise.