6 Strategies to Beat Workout Boredom

Stop dreading your workout and start enjoying it.

December 25, 2014
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Doing the same old fitness routine day after day is no way to get excited about working up a sweat. Heck, even the biggest fans of running or cycling need a break from the norm every once in a while. The good news? There are zillions of ways to workout on the regular, and not just inside a studio. Whether taking classes like Zumba, CrossFit, and Pilates is your normal or you'd rather crank up the speed on the treadmill, it's super important to mix up your fit routine. Why's that? Over time, your body becomes accustomed to your activity pattern and is more efficient at burning calories while you’re doing it, explains Kevin McCarthy, a personal trainer. 

More: Why Machines Could Be Your Enemy in the Gym

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Now you know why the scale sometimes gets stuck on the same number, even though you’re exercising religiously. There’s no reason to trudge through another workout that doesn’t inspire you. Keep boredom at bay with these six simple workout strategies: 

1. Make it interesting with intervals. When walking or running for 30 minutes has you yawning, try incorporating intervals into your workout. They’re easy to do: Just alternate 3 to 5 minutes at a faster pace with 1 minute at a slower pace, McCarthy says. If you’re on a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical trainer, you can get the same effect by increasing the elevation or resistance for 3 to 5 minutes. “Your workout will fly by if you think about it in 5-minute intervals,” McCarthy says. 

2. Change the terrain. You might be able to inject some vigor into your daily walk by heading for a hiking trail instead of following the same route around your neighborhood, suggests Jessica Matthews, a personal trainer. Or drive to another neighborhood and take in a different view while you work out.

3. Cross-train. It’s great for getting fit, preventing injury, and eliminating boredom. Rather than slugging through 30 minutes on the treadmill at the gym, stay on for just 5 minutes, then hop on the stationary bike for 5 minutes, then switch to the elliptical trainer for another 5. Go through the entire circuit once more, and you’ve got your 30-minute workout. Here’s an option for a summertime fitness routine, depending where you live: Jog to the community pool in 15 minutes, swim for 20 minutes, then jog back home for 15 minutes. 

More: Exercise May Be the Key to Keeping Your Brain in Shape

4. Distract yourself.In some gyms, you can watch TV while you walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike. Some bikes even have a video display that makes you feel as though you’re racing against other people, McCarthy says. If you have exercise equipment at home, try setting it up in front of the TV to take your mind off of your workout. 

5. Make Exercise a social event. McCarthy sees people as fitting one of two fitness personality types: either the loner or the socializer. If you’re a socializer, the more people you recruit to work out with you, the better. Join—or even start—a walking or running group. You’ll never be bored when you’re surrounded by friends. 

6. Do something completely different. McCarthy likes to change his workouts with the seasons. When the weather is appropriate, he switches from running to mountain biking and rock climbing. 

Adapted from List Maker's Get-Healthy Guide: Top To-Dos For an Even Better You!