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Whether you’re training for a marathon or aiming to maintain your present fitness level, you’ll reap the benefits of cross training—total body fitness, reduced risk of injury, and an added psychological boost.
Cross training is the answer to any exercise rut. Simply combine the trio of fitness staples—aerobics, strength training, and flexibility—to your weekly workouts and you will be cross training. Aerobics is any sport or activity that raises and sustains your heart rate. Think running, swimming, cross-country skiing, and bicycling. Strength training increases muscle endurance and power, which can be achieved through weight lifting, isometrics, push-ups, and pull-ups. Flexibility creates muscle suppleness and expands your range of motion. To gain flexibility, try yoga, dance, and simple stretching.
Benefits abound if you leave your mono-fitness routine behind. Relief from boredom is a major psychological benefit that will keep you motivated and committed to your fitness regimen. Variety in your exercise choices yields significant physiological benefits as well. By using different muscle groups, your muscles adapt more easily to new activities. In addition, alternating muscle groups helps you avoid overuse injuries. Good cross training leaves no muscle group behind.
It’s easy. Make a list of all the aerobic, strength training, and flexibility activities you enjoy and alternate these activities throughout the course of each week. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of physical exertion three times per week. Try out new muscle groups you haven’t been in touch with for a while, and experiment with new sports or forms of movement.
Here’s what your week might look like:
The key is variety. Each week, commit yourself to mixing up your routine. Your body and mind will thank you.