Our bodies are designed for movement, and those who are active tend to have their favorite exercise modalities or sports endeavors. While consistent exercise of any kind is valuable, cross training can yield even more benefits to our bodies and minds.
Cross training simply means varying workouts and exercise modalities to challenge the body differently. Therefore, if you like to run 3-4 times a week, adding in a strength training session or two constitutes cross training. Or if you’re devoted to group cycling, taking a yoga or flexibility class adds a new element to your regimen.
Cross training can even be what triathletes do by swimming, biking and running – even though these are all cardio modalities. Ideally, cross training results in you addressing all the components of fitness, including cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility. This way, you end up more well-rounded – as well as less likely to suffer from an injury.
In addition to helping your body, cross training can keep you motivated and adherent to workouts. The variety and change stimulate mental interest and may even encourage new goals. Being open to cross training also can get you to try new activities – such as skiing, inline skating or stand-up paddle boarding.
Habits are certainly fine when it comes to exercise, and there’s nothing wrong with taking your favorite kickboxing class every week, but incorporating cross training makes a good thing even better. Try a Zumba class, hit the pool for your next workout or join a running club – whatever it is that interests you, branch out and enjoy the payoffs of cross training!