How to avoid exercise burnout

Human brains love novelty. We crave what feels new and exciting. That is even true with exercise. Think about how pumped you are to start a new fitness routine. In the honeymoon stage you are pretty committed. You show up and give it your all. Then, gradually, the thrill wanes and you start accepting excuses from yourself about why you need to skip a day then a week and before you know it, it’s back to the couch. Don’t let that be your story this time. These tips will help you keep your commitment and avoid exercise burnout.

Have an end in mind

Sign up with your local track club to train for a race. You’ll get the benefit of camaraderie, exercise is more fun with friends, and a time limit. You won’t be bored because your focus will be on meeting the challenge of race day. It will also help to have a specific, time-limited goal.

Beat your personal best

Know why you are exercising. Sure, you want to get fit, but maybe you also want to lift heavier, run faster or jump higher. Set a target that keeps you feeling challenged and engaged in your exercise routine. Include monthly benchmarks to help you stay on track and continue striving.

Value variety

Remember, human brains love novelty. Vary your routine to keep your brain excited about exercise. There are lots of ways to do this. For example, you can vary your level of intensity – do HIIT (high intensity interval training) some days and moderate, steady state training other days. You can also add some cross training. Lift some days and swim or practice Vinyasa yoga on other days. Try changing the scenery, too. Exercise at your local gym as well as at the local park. You might even make it a goal to exercise at every park or recreation area within 25 miles over a 12-month period.

Plan rest days

Rest days are important for recovery and mental sharpness. Include them in your exercise plan to avoid injury and burnout. When you take time away you’ll come back with new energy and commitment to your fitness goals.

Final tips…

  • To avoid exercise burnout, get clear about why you are exercising in the first place. You may want to identify new goals every quarter.
  • Mix up your routine. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Exercise can be fun, it doesn’t always have to feel like a chore.
  • Challenge yourself. Don’t just lace up your sneakers and check out with the music. Push yourself hard sometimes. There is novelty in learning what your body can really do when you put your mind to it.