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Changing Your Workouts and Adding a Fitness Challenge

How many jumping jacks can you do in 5 minutes?
How many jumping jacks can you do in 5 minutes?

One of the ways our bodies grow stronger is by constantly challenging them. It’s not enough to just move a few weights, you’ve got to move progressively heavier weights over time. Without regular new challenges, our bodies stagnate and become less fit.

Generally, the longer you've been working out, the more frequently you need to change. If you're new to exercising you may see tremendous progress following the same workout for 6 or more months. But if you've been working out for a few years, you may need to change as often as every two to four weeks.

Time and the lack of progress aren’t the only things you need to consider when planning a change. There are four other situations that should push you to try something new.

When you get bored. You don’t have to be super excited about a workout, but if you’ve gotten so used to the same routine you don’t even have to think about what’s next, it might be time to change. When things get boring, you’ll come up with excuses to skip out. Keep changing, keep it interesting and you’ll keep going back.

When your goals change. If you’ve been working out a while, you might have achieved your initial goals. Routines that concentrate on dropping fat aren’t the same as those designed to build muscle. When you achieve one set of goals, decide on some new ones. Then change your program to reflect your new priorities.

When something in your health situation changes that’s out of your control. If you’re dealing with illness or injury, don’t do anything that will aggravate your condition. Give the damaged part of your body a rest and work everything else. Consult with your doctor on what’s the most appropriate thing to do.

When something in your home or work situation changes. If you get transferred to a new office, move to a new home or have a new member in the family, it’s a good time to re-evaluate your workouts. You might have to change workout times, find a closer gym or try a different type of exercise. The key is finding something compatible with your new situation that won’t stress you out.

There’s something else you should consider to shake things up. Fitting your exercise into just one window of time every day may be limiting your progress. Imagine adding two five minute exercise breaks into your schedule. The time cost is minimal. But the positive effects it can have are huge.

Interrupting long periods of sitting with exercise helps raise your metabolism, gets blood to your brain so you stay sharp and helps remind you to do other healthier activities. It can also increase how long you’ll live. Researchers at the University of Utah found that getting up and walking around, just 2 minutes every hour, can cut your risk of early death by 33%.

Some people will have a tough time figuring out those exercise challenges. Don’t worry, I’ve put together a web page that does it for you. Just go to QuickFitFive.com and you’ll be presented with a randomly generated fitness challenge that will take you five minutes or less to do. If it's something you've already done recently, click the button and you’ll get a new randomly generated challenge.

Use the challenges as a way to push yourself. Try hard things. If a challenge seems too easy, double it and see how well you do. Keep a little notepad on what you accomplish each day. If you just do it five days out of seven, you’re adding nearly one full hour of extra exercise every week. You can do it, take the challenge.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.