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Sustainable fitness through diverse exercise routines

Diverse workout regimens promote sustainable fitness
© R.P. Ruiz,

If you have ever exercised regularly, then you probably know how easily your weekly workouts can get unexpectedly derailed every once in a while. Illness, injuries, bad weather, stress and lack of time are just a handful of things that can force you to miss a period of all-important physical activity.

Unfortunately, the longer you go without exercise, the harder it can be to get back on track. All too often we hit one of life’s speed bumps, only to lose our momentum and then potentially miss weeks or months of exercise afterward. An important key to achieving sustainable fitness is resilience: the ability to get back to your normal workouts after life gives you a temporary detour.

If your knee or ankle is hurt, then it may be quite some time before you are able to resume running. Time away from home may keep you from doing your regular weight training for much longer than you’d like. Bad weather may keep you from your outdoor exercise for days or weeks.

Fortunately, by keeping a diverse array of activities in your athletic repertoire, you may find it easier to sustain an exercise routine during very demanding or difficult periods.

For the injured runner, swimming laps may be a good alternative to just sitting idly while waiting to heal. Doing the stairs or treadmill is a great way to maintain the aerobic capacity of a cyclist who is sidelined by cold or inclement weather. If you’re out of town with no convenient access to a gym, vigorous walking could be just the way to help keep your metabolism high and reduce the loss of muscle mass.

But alternate exercises should not be thought of merely as replacements for your normal routine. Instead, they should be seen as complementing your regimen by offering variety and versatility when done on a regular basis, which can provide us with better flexibility, reduced physical pain, good joint and cardiovascular health, a positive mental outlook and stable body weight. Try to find at least two or three activities that you can intersperse with each other; for instance, strength training two days a week coupled with another two days of aerobic exercise.

All of us who have ever been physically active have probably hit a patch where a short-term disruption in our workouts ended up giving us much greater down time than we expected. During these periods, you should try to maintain at least a minimum level of physical activity in order to keep your spirits high and body limber, until you can get back to your normal routine. This is when alternate exercises are irreplaceable.

Doing complementary exercises, such as strength and aerobic training, can help ensure that we work out in a variety of ways to give us well-rounded support of both mind and body. Chances also are that one of the exercises in a diverse workout program may very well be the one that helps you otherwise avoid long periods of complete physical inactivity.

Adaptability is the key to overcoming adversity and maintaining sustainable fitness. When obstacles present themselves, being able to make adjustments increases our resilience, stability and overall happiness. A diverse workout regimen gives you the flexibility to take a break from your primary exercise(s) when needed, while providing alternate exercises to help bridge the gap in the meantime.

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