The Secrets of Success: Mix It Up to Keep It Off

By , SparkPeople Blogger
We've already learned how important exercise is to weight-loss success. But what kind of exercise helps the most? Is any one form of cardio or strength-training better than another? We recently survey our most successful members--people who reached their goal weights or were still going strong after losing at least 100 pounds--to find out. We compiled all of their tactics in our best-selling book, The Spark, but we're sharing our 15 favorite secrets of success on the dailySpark from March 1-15.

Secret #8: Mix It Up to Keep It Off.
Successful members exercised at home, outside, in the gym, with home equipment or home DVDs, with workout groups or buddies, varying their routines and keeping it fun so that they were more likely to keep going. So how does workout variety help you lose weight?

Two ways. First, it's the best antidote to exercise boredom. I probably don't need to tell you that doing the same old workout day in and day out can become monotonous. And when you're bored with exercise, you're more likely to drudge through it (without working to your full potential) and more likely to make excuses. After all, if your workout isn't as fun or exciting, as the other parts of your life, why bother? This goes hand in hand with another secret we already talked about: making fitness fun. I love to run (it wasn't always that way), but I make it a point to change up my route, music, distance, pace and intensity from day to day to keep the activity fresh and interesting. That means you're more likely to stick with it instead of making excuses to avoid it.

The second reason mixing it up really helps is that it keeps your body guessing. When an exercise or movement is new, your body has to work hard to master it by sending signals to engage more muscle fibers, including ones that were once dormant. This is one reason why most exercise newbies experience some amazing results soon after starting a workout program. But over time, your body adapts to your routine. Those smart muscles of yours know exactly what's coming and they begin to work out as efficiently as possible, which means you're actually working less intensely than before and burning fewer calories. All that adds up to one thing: the dreaded plateau. But my mixing things up, trying new exercises and changing your routine, you keep your body guessing—and burning more calories as a result. That means better weight loss and more fitness improvements.

As easy as it is for me to tell you to mix things up, most people don't know exactly how to do that. Well you are in luck because the following SparkPeople resources will show you how.
Did you miss a secret? Find all the rest of the series of 15 here (a new one is posted every day through March 15). For more secrets to success, plus a 28-day jumpstart program you won't find anywhere else, read The Spark.

How do you mix things up? Has it made a difference in your mental and physical response to exercise?