Why To Exercise Today And Onward: Time To Shake It Up

(whologwhy/flickr)

It’s that time again. The light lasts longer, the flowers are out, and your body is saying, “I can do more! Just try me!”

Last spring, we at CommonHealth launched a 3-month, get-healthier project called FreshStart, and quite a few people said it helped them set smart goals and work toward them. (Check it out here, reading oldest to newest.)

This year, we want to try something new: Trying something new. That is, in terms of exercise. One staple of fitness advice is to find what works for you and stick with it. But it’s not a contradiction to say that we also need to shake it up. So that’s the theme for this spring: Shake It Up. Try something new. Not necessarily brand new to the world, just new for you. And let us know how it goes.

‘All programs suffer from diminishing returns after a few years.’

As I write this, Rachel is off on a Shake It Up mission at an exotic exercise locale — she’ll report in tomorrow. Your own mission, should you choose to accept it, is to think about trying at least one new form of exercise — or more. Tomorrow, we’ll ask for your plan, and later on we’ll ask you how it went. We’ll report on fun new exercise innovations; share gory details of our own experiments; and hope you’ll share your own adventures back.

For inspiration, please consider this passage from the excellent recent book on exercise science by physicist Alex Hutchinson, “Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?” In its final chapter, it offers three conclusions: Do something rather than nothing Figure out your goals and monitor your progress. And last but not least:

• Try something new. Whenever researchers line up two or more exercise techniques against each other, the conclusion is almost never “A is better than B” or “A and B are the same.” Instead it’s “A has these strengths and weaknesses, and B has these other strengths and weaknesses.” Moreover, all programs suffer from diminishing returns after a few years — if you always bike at the same pace and do the same five strength exercises, your improvements will be measured in a fraction of a percent. Trying something new every now and then will force your body to adapt in new ways, and keep you mentally fresh.

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