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Have you fallen victim to the exercise blahs?

For those of you who have been following the New Year, New You Wellness Challenge for 2012, you are about to begin Week 7. Congratulations on taking positive steps toward a healthy lifestyle! You may notice now that exercise has be-come a regular part of your day that you have become bored with your physical activity. Perhaps you are no longer seeing the improvements and changes you saw when you first began to exercise. Maybe your motivation has waned and exercise has lost that new, fun feeling. I have a fantastic solution for each of these all too common exercise frustrations: Variety!

Adding variety and mixing up your exercise routine will keep your body guessing. Shake it up! When you do the same exercises for weeks, your body adapts on a neuromuscular level. If you do not increase your intensity or do not add new activities, your body is no longer challenged. It, like you, becomes bored. You may find yourself at what we call a plateau, meaning you are no longer improving toward your goals even though you are consistently putting in the time and effort to be healthy and fit. By adding a new activity, you broaden your physical abilities. Do not be surprised if you experience soreness in muscles you forgot you had, or did not know you had!

Ideas to incorporate variety:

* Try a group fitness class. The James River YMCA has a great schedule with an assortment of classes available across all fitness levels.

* Find an exercise buddy to hold you accountable and help keep you motivated.

* Incorporate circuit training or interval training; the change in intensity will shock your body in a good way and greatly improve your calorie burn.

* Keep your same routine, but up your current intensities.

* Keep an exercise journal, go back to earlier workouts and challenge yourself to go further, be faster, complete more reps, or lift more weight.

* Contact a personal trainer or exercise specialist for specific advice based on your needs as proper form and safe exercise technique is of utmost importance.

Physical stress to the body is a good thing, and your body craves it. Exercisers should aim to progressively overload their bodies, to push beyond its usual potential in order to see greater muscular strength and endurance, speed, agility, cardiorespiratory endurance and flexibility.

Variety to physical activity is the key to stay on track with continued improvements and goal attainment. 50 percent of those who join a gym or begin a new fitness plan fall off within the first six months. Do not fall victim to this phenomenon.

(Emily Kjelland is the cardiac rehabilitation and wellness coordinator at Jamestown Regional Medical Center)