This Is the No. 1 Way You've Been Exercising Wrong

One simple change in your workout routine could make all the difference.

Aside from fitness junkies, many people find working out to be a chore. No matter how many steps you take each day, it always seems like you're not getting enough exercise. And right now, it's even more difficult when most gyms are closed and your workout routine is interrupted. But it turns out that even in non-pandemic times, you were probably making one major mistake, a new study suggests. You were doing the same old regimen, instead of mixing up activities.

A recent study published in Translational Behavioral Medicine found that a variety of exercise will make you much healthier. Unlike the Department of Health and Human Services' advice to do 150 minutes of exercise per week, this new research focuses less on the amount of exercise you do and more on the diversity of your training. In fact, the study shows you should aim to do three different activities a month to be in peak shape.

To conduct their research, a team of medical experts at New York University's Rory Meyers College of Nursing analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Of the 9,000 American adults polled, they recorded 47 types of activity, including walking (the most popular), biking, dancing, and weightlifting. Using this information, they gauged the total minutes of exercise and the number of various activities each person did.

woman taking a rest after riding her bike

They concluded that the individuals who had the largest range of activities also ended up getting the most exercise. So for instance, if you mix your regular walks in with swimming, yoga, and playing volleyball, you would be healthier. While options are limited right now, especially in areas with stricter shutdowns, there are still creative ways in which you can do quick, effective workouts.

"We should emphasize that a program of frequent, short exercise sessions can work very well," says Susan Malone, MSN, PhD, the lead author of the study. "They can do daily short walks… or even follow along with exercise videos at home."

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You'll also enjoy working out more when you spice up your regimen instead of following a monotonous routine, which could cause you to quit out of boredom or dissatisfaction. But the main reason why it's worth changing things up is that it allows you to strengthen all parts of your body and prevents stressing certain muscles or bones that can result in common athletic injuries like runner's knee. So the next time you plan out an exercise program, consider alternating between cardio and resistance training as well as some less strenuous activities like yoga or nature hikes for added mental health benefits. And for more fitness ideas, check out 21 Easy Ways to Get in More Exercise Every Day.

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