Exercise is one of the best gifts you can give your body. You can tone and strengthen muscles, lose body fat, lower your blood pressure and strengthen your heart. To gain the maximum amount of benefit to your body, it's important to vary your exercise routine, as no one exercise can do everything. One popular way to get a total body workout is cross training - a method that includes alternating cardiovascular exercise with strength training.
Some people like to do aerobic exercise on different days than strength training. Others prefer to get in both types of workout in one day. With cross training, most experts recommend that you vary your exercises, even within the aerobic or strength training group. For instance, if you're a runner, you might alternate running with swimming, biking or elliptical training. If you're used to using only free weights for strength training, cross training will allow you to try some weight machines, as well. Following are some benefits you can gain from adding cross training to your fitness regimen.
* You will enhance your overall performance - Most fitness scientists agree that cross training provides the best mechanism for taking care of your whole body. The aerobic training you will get from running, swimming, or working out on an elliptical machine will improve your endurance. The weight training will make your muscles strong and lean. Most sports require both capabilities, making cross training the best way to get into shape
* You can keep training even after an injury - When you are performing multiple types of activities and using many muscles, an injury won't stop you. You can work other parts of your body while the injured area heals, or simply switch exercises for a while.
* You can get in more exercise time without soreness or injury - This one is a big plus if you're trying to lose weight. By varying your exercise you can spend more time per week exercising without risking soreness or injury. If you usually run, for example, you might not be able to add another hour of running to your week without being sore or causing knee problems. But, you could easily swim or bike for an hour in addition to your runs without causing a problem.
* You'll increase your proficiency in multiple sports - Adding variety to your routine will cause you to explore exercises you had previously ignored. Never used an elliptical trainer? Now's the time to try. Not used to the recumbent bike? See what you think.
* You'll reduce your chances of boredom - This is one of the biggest culprits that keep us out of the gym. But, with cross training, your workouts are so varied that you never get bored. Don't feel like swimming today? Fine, get on the elliptical machine instead. It's still a valuable workout, and it won't seem so mundane
Cross training has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, and seems to be fulfilling its promise of making us healthier and more fit overall. Even the early opponents of cross training who said that athletes should train in a very task specific way, seem to have changed their minds. Give it a try, you may find that you are getting healthier and having more fun, too!
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Mike Singh is a fitness instructor and writer, who
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