There’s a lot to say about routine. Some life coaches believe that the secret to “success” lies in a solid routine. Plus, for most of us, routine is comfortable. You wake up, have your cup of Joe, read the paper, make breakfast, get ready for work, go to work, come home, make dinner, blah blah you get the point. But variety adds flavor and spice to your life! You don’t necessarily have to avoid repetition to satisfy the need or desire to try something new everyday. Here are three reasons you should challenge and change yourself by adding something new to your health and fitness routine—whether that’s every month, every week, or every day.
1. Your body—and brain—will be better off because of it.
Humans have this insane ability to adapt. I mean, come on, just look back on history for proof.
On the contrary, if you continue to do the exact same workout day in a day out, your body is going to get bored. Essentially, you stop forcing it to make changes and keep up to meet a new demand. That’s why running plans force you to go farther, weight lifting programs call for higher reps and more weight, and boxing classes put together even trickier combinations. Once you learn 2 + 2 = 4, it’s not going to do you any good to keep learning 2 + 2 = 4.
But even better than just doing more of what you already do? Try something different, like a cross-training workout that perfectly pairs up with what you already do. You’ll work your muscles in a new way—increasing your overall fitness level in a way that more miles or more weight simply won’t.
And really, when you switch up your routine, your brain benefits too. When you start a new workout, the improvements you see in the first four to six weeks are actually mainly neurological. Your brain is learning how to most efficiently recruit your muscles to complete the moves. A better body and sharper mind, just from trying a new workout? Yes, please.
2. It literally slows down time.
Hate how your weekends fly by? Feel like you blinked, and summer was suddenly over? Yeah.. me too. When you experience something novel, it seems to have lasted longer, according to neuroscientist David Eagleman, Ph.D., who has extensively studied the effects of our brain’s perception of time, as reported by NY Mag.
“Time is this rubbery thing…it stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,’ it shrinks up,” said Eagleman to the New Yorker in a profile in 2011.
To make those precious few hours pre- and post-work seem longer than enough time to scarf down breakfast and brush your teeth, do something new. Meditate, try a new workout studio, flip on a different morning show, play some new music. To extend your weekend hours, venture to a new hiking spot, take a different long-run route, or find a new healthy restaurant. Just do something—anything—you’ve never done before.
3. You’ll gain a sense of accomplishment and confidence.
Remember the last time you ran a number of miles you never imagined you could? Or lifted more pounds than ever before? You probably got a surge of your usual workout endorphins and then some.
Staring something new and scary right in the eyeballs and then crushing it requires courage, for sure. But doing it—despite fear—will teach you to overcome those iffy feelings again next time (whether it’s a tough workout, meeting with your boss, or meet-the-parents sitch) and build your confidence for next time. The more things you try and do, the more capable you feel.
So go try that class at your gym you’ve always wanted to sign up for but never had the courage. Go run the course that always seemed a little too advanced for you. DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL EITHER. Growth comes from failure. Trust and believe.
Article written by GUADS staff member, Chelsea with help from Shape