Break Out of a Fitness Rut With New Routine, Workout Partner

Question: I'm 30 years old, 5 feet, 6 inches tall, and weigh 135 pounds. In my 20s I could hit the road running and drop 5 to 10 pounds, but now it has become harder. Although I exercise, lately I've been in a rut. I'm not enjoying my exercise routine--or anything about staying fit. Any suggestions?


New York

Answer: You're not alone. Getting locked in a fitness rut can happen to anyone, even the most committed exerciser. Sometimes it happens after an injury or illness or a change in work schedule; sometimes just because you're bored. The best way to get over that hump is to shake things up.

Whenever I hit this wall, I try a new sport, find a workout partner, hire a trainer for a couple of sessions, or hit a new running route. By adding new exercises, you'll challenge your body to change (even our bodies sense stale routines by changing less and less as we physically adapt to a specific routine). These small changes can make a big difference in renewing enthusiasm and helping you stick to your commitment to stay fit.

Follow these guidelines:

* Do a variety of exercises, and always try new ones. The same routine for too long will kill your motivation.

* Set daily goals. Almost anything is possible if you take it one day at a time. But be consistent in trying to make exercise a habit.

* Don't overtrain. Initially, work until you are tired, instead of for a set period of time. This gives your body time to adjust to the exercise. As you improve, exercise longer or work with intervals.

It's almost impossible to follow a long-term exercise program without having setbacks, but just make sure they don't last. Most of us find ourselves in these ruts because we don't consider exercise fun. But the less you exercise, the harder it becomes to exercise.


Stephanie Oakes is the fitness correspondent for Discovery Health Channel and a health/fitness consultant. Send questions by e-mail to: She cannot respond to every query .

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