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Minor Changes that Improve FitnessMinor Changes that Improve Fitness


Minor Changes that Improve Fitness

You don’t have to drastically change your exercise routine to get results. Often, small changes to your current routine are all you need to accomplish your goals. Whether you are just getting started or feel like you are in a rut with your current program, try these minor changes that improve fitness.

Take time to stretch.

Flexibility has a big impact on normal daily activities. Bending, reaching, and walking become more difficult when your muscles are tight and your range of motion is limited. Flexibility training should be as much of a priority as your strength and cardio exercises. Take five minutes after each workout to stretch all your major muscle groups. Take a break from the computer during your work day and perform a few stretches at the office. Also, consider incorporating activities that focus on flexibility, like yoga, Pilates, dance, and martial arts.

Add higher intensity intervals.

Incorporating short bursts into your cardio workouts is an easy way to challenge your cardiovascular system and boost the calories burned. If you walk on a treadmill, increase the incline for one minute every five minutes throughout your workout. You can do the same on a stationary bike by increasing the speed or resistance. If you exercise outside, pick up the pace during these intervals. The low-intensity intervals will help you recover between each high-intensity burst.

Pick up more weight.

Once an amount of weight becomes easy for you to lift, your muscles are no longer challenged. Without a challenge, the muscles can’t continue to gain strength. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), once you can lift a weight one to two more times beyond your repetition goal, it’s time to increase the weight by 2 to 10 percent. This small change keeps your muscles on track with strength gains.

Never pass up an opportunity to move.

Even short bursts of activity, like climbing stairs, burn extra calories and stimulate the heart. Taking time to move more throughout the day can also give you a break from your environment and help you return with a refreshed outlook for problem-solving. When possible, turn these short bursts into slightly longer segments of at least 10 minutes. The ACSM supports the idea that multiple short sessions of at least 10 minutes count toward your daily goal of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.


Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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