If your new year’s home workout routine is dwindling, a new study (opens in new tab) from the University of Florida may be able to explain why. The study, which tracked the progress of three different groups as they embarked on an exercise program, found that adding a variety of workouts to your routine can keep you on track for longer.
This is because people struggle to feel motivated when they’re bored of the same old routine, according to Christopher Janelle, an assistant professor in UF’s department of exercise and sport sciences. “If you vary the routine, there’s a significant increase in enjoyment that leads to greater adherence.”
According to these findings, switching between weight training, such as when using one of the best home gyms (opens in new tab), on one day and doing cardio the next could help you set long-term habits and actually stick to your resolutions. You don’t need specific exercise machines, such an exercise bike (opens in new tab) or treadmill (opens in new tab), to alternate though. “If you work out at home, you can go for a run one day, do aerobics in the house another day and do something else the third day,” said Janelle. Even switching from targeting one muscle group to another can add some variety to your exercise routine and help you stay on track.
Two key factors could keep your home workouts on track
The study, which was released late last year, assigned three mixed groups of men and women different workouts and tracked their progress. One group was given a variety of exercises to follow as part of their routine, while the second was assigned one exercise to repeat. The third group was given no routine whatsoever.
The research found that members of the first group enjoyed their workouts far more on average than the second or third groups. “Participants in the first group enjoyed their workout sessions 20% more than the members of the second group and 45% more than members of the third group.” They were also 15% more likely to stick to their routine than members of the second group, and a massive 63% more likely to adhere when compared to members of the third group.
The key to sticking to your home workouts
So, what can we learn from UF’s fitness findings? According to assistant professor Christopher Janelle, “variety and structure contributed to the adherence of the first group.” This supports claims that boredom makes it all the more difficult to pursue your fitness goals, and shows why it’s so important to opt for a variety of workout elements to your routine. This could be as simple as firing up an online fitness program (opens in new tab) for yoga one day, then hopping on an elliptical machine (opens in new tab) the next.
It’s not just variety that can help you motivate yourself. The study found that the groups, who were all instructed to complete three weekly workouts for eight weeks, were much more likely to stick to a structured workout plan than a more impulsive routine. The third group was not given any specific workout instructions, and encouraged to do whatever exercise they wanted on any given day. If you want to stick to a workout routine, this clearly isn’t the way to do it. Assigning yourself a weekly schedule of specific exercises will help you stick to your specific plan.
According to Janelle, “you can even try to vary who you work out with or whether or not you work out alone. And if you choose to go to a gym, there’s so much to do that you can pick whatever you want that day.”