Shake up your workout

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Instead of pounding away on a treadmill every time you exercise, try other ways to step up your routine. Ng Wan Ching reports

Variety is the spice of life. Monotony kills the mood.

Just as we need plenty of change to add interest in our lives, our workouts benefit from change too.

Fortunately, technology today comes in handy to provide many different ways of making workouts more fun and progressive, say physiotherapists.

This is helpful as different people thrive under different conditions.

Some effortless ways of making your usual workout more fun include using music, fitness apps and fitness trackers.

Incorporating music is common, but try using different genres of music for different parts of your workout, said Ms Ho Jiaying, a senior physiotherapist at Singapore General Hospital (SGH). For example, use instrumental or atmospheric music for stretching, and upbeat driving tunes for cardio exercises, she said.

If you are bored with your own music, try music streaming services such as Spotify and browse through other people's workout playlists to get ideas, she added.

GO HI-TECH

Another way to spice up workout sessions is by using fitness apps and fitness trackers, most of which can be synced with the music in your device.

The use of such apps has skyrocketed in the last year or so and more apps are continuously being released, said Ms Ho.

A popular new app which appeared this year is Hot5.

It contains many pages of five-minute video workouts, from abdominal and core exercises to yoga and flexibility conditioning.

According to reviewers, the workouts are "super easy" to follow and there are many varieties with different difficulty levels. Each five-minute session has just five moves.

Fitness tracking apps, on the other hand, help you to keep track of things, such as the number of steps you have taken, how much sleep you have had and a general overview of your activity levels.

You can sync the data with your device and watch yourself progress.

Some popular fitness trackers include Jawbone UP24, Fitbit Flex and Nike+ FuelBand.

Many of these apps are free or, at least, offer a free trial.

"If you're willing to invest a little for a nifty gadget, it may help you push your workout a little further," said Ms Ho.

You can also use the apps to create a little friendly competition among a group of friends to help spur you on.

"You can have a points system with some kind of reward for those who achieve their goals at the end of the week or the month," she added.

REWARD YOURSELF FOR SMALL GOALS

If apps and gadgets are not for you, there are other ways to get your workout mojo going without too much effort.

These include setting goals, joining a fitness club, learning new exercises and constantly changing your workout environment.

But your goals must be realistic, said Ms Phoebe Ting, a physiotherapist at SGH.

It should be done within an adequate amount of time to achieve the goal. An example is to set aside enough time to prepare for a full marathon for someone who has never joined one before, she said.

Besides setting a big goal, you can also make small ones to help you get to the big goal. And you can reward yourself when you achieve each small goal as an added motivation, added Ms Ting.

"The key to choosing a reward is that it must be really desirable and a bit frivolous so that it actually seems like a treat."

Examples of a reward could be splurging on a spa session or buying a new outfit.

Do remember that the reward needs to fit a healthy lifestyle. It should not be a massive buffet binge, for instance, said Ms Ting.

Joining a fitness club or exercise group helps to incorporate regular activity into your daily life without too much effort. You can meet people with the same goals and interests and who can provide encouragement and support, said Ms Ting.

Also, think about switching around exercises or learning new ones.

This helps to reduce boredom and also gets you to exercise different muscles.

For example, do cardiovascular exercises, such as jogging or body combat, on one day; strengthening exercises, such as weightlifting, the next day; followed by relaxation or flexibility exercises, such as pilates or yoga, the day after.

You can also add fun activities like Zumba (a Latin dance-inspired workout), said Ms Ting.

Just as switching around exercises can keep you interested, changing the environment also helps.

Instead of exercising in the gym all the time, try doing it outdoors.

Exercising outdoors tends to be more engaging and mentally stimulating because of the changing scenery and terrain. It also helps to relieve more stress, she added.

wanching@sph.com.sg

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