I was talking the other day to a friend who told me that although she was training for a half-marathon and running long distances (over eight miles) a lot, she wasn’t losing any weight. I don’t think this is an uncommon thing to hear, and there are probably a few reasons it could be true for her. One…she might be eating more to compensate for her higher energy demands. Two…she may be gaining in muscle weight and the scale is just showing weight overall (in this case, I say who cares what the scale says). Three….her body may have adapted somewhat to her cardiovascular training by becoming more energy-efficient. This is good if you’re an athlete, but bad if you’re trying to lose weight.
I just finished running a marathon a week ago, and although I haven’t gotten on a scale recently, I can tell I have not lost much weight, if any at all. My goal wasn’t to lose weight – so I am good with this, but I think it does show that we have to mix things up (especially as we age) if we want to lose weight (or even just maintain it). While research varies in terms of how often you should change your workout routine, many experts agree it is important to change your routine at least every two months.
This is especially true in regards to cardio workouts. In other words if running is our main type of exercise, it is good to do something different, like take a cycle class (or ride an exercise bike at home), swim, or even take a “fast walk” (I am amazed at how sore I am after walking-it uses different muscle groups than running) to change things up. “Tricking” our body is important if we want to see a change because our bodies are smart and adapt quickly to the same old thing (even if it is running eight miles on a regular basis).
Although I love to run, it is fun to get on the bike (in my closet) or go for a swim, and I can really feel how varying my exercise causes me to use muscles I am not as used to engaging. Another benefit is that it helps me from getting tired of any one thing. This has been the secret for me since I started working out regularly years ago. For a long time, running was my primary form of exercise, and I dealt with multiple injuries because I ran so often. Since switching things up, I am less injury-prone.
With my marathon behind me, I am hoping to get in the pool again soon. A shoulder issue prevented me from swimming for a while, so I will see how it feels when I get in again. As a runner, it always feels great to do a non-impact workout!
What’s your favorite “secondary” cardio exercise that you do to change up your workouts?