If you’re lacking motivation to exercise as the pandemic days seem to blur into one, research suggests you should switch up your workout routine. People who try two or more different workouts throughout the month are more likely to reach their physical activity goals, according to a study out of NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.
The key to getting adequate exercise (which, for adults means to 150-300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75-150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity) is having variety in your routine, the study authors found.
Researchers found that adults who were categorized as “highly active,” meaning they do more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, did at least two different types of activity in the past month. Those in the most active group did five different kinds of workouts in a month.
“Since a greater variety of activities was associated with meeting exercise guidelines, mixing up your workouts to vary the type of exercise could be beneficial,” Susan Malone, study author and assistant professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing said in a release.
This finding tracks with other research about workout motivation. A study from back in 2000 found that people who followed an exercise program that included a variety of workouts were 63% more likely to stick to their exercise routine after eight weeks than those who didn’t vary their workouts.
The reason? Variety also increases enjoyment and decreases boredom, which makes people more motivated to follow through with a plan.
For the new study, researchers analyzed physical-activity patterns of more than 9,000 U.S. adults from the Centers for Disease Control National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
As for the ideal types of workouts to do, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest that you do moderate intensity muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups at least twice a week, in addition to aerobic exercise. For example, lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing bodyweight exercises like pushups or even carrying heavy objects.
Aerobic exercises include things like brisk walking, swimming or playing doubles tennis.
In the NYU study, the most popular workouts people did were walking, bicycling, dance, treadmill walking and running and weightlifting.