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Monday Mom challenge: Shake up your exercise routine

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Simple steps to fresh energy

We all know how important regular exercise is. We all also know how challenging it can be to keep up your routine amid the demands of your life. Most of the time, simply keeping that exercise routine at all is achievement enough! But what about when that routine becomes, well, too routine? Time to shake it up!

Runner with MP3 PlayerPutting some new energy into your exercise routine can take many different forms, from the exercise itself to the environment in which you exercise. It could be as simple as a new exercise top! No matter what it is for you, inject some new energy into your routine for more fun and more fitness.

Take a new route

If you are a walker, runner or cyclist, look for a new route, with new scenery -- or even do your regular route in reverse. You might meet a new friend, notice a gorgeous garden or learn about a new playground to take the kids to later.

Take some new music

With the invention of MP3 players and music downloads, taking music along -- and changing it up -- is easier than ever. Try downloading a suggested playlist from the music sites, or let your kids help you pick out something different. It could bring a new bit of music appreciation into your day, as well as a little more pep into your sweating.

Take a class

If you exercise at a gym, try taking a new class during your regular exercise time -- or take the same kind of class you have been taking, but with a different instructor. A slightly different approach can make a big difference.

Take a friend

Exercise is always more fun when it's shared. Try meeting a friend for power walks around the track at the local high school. You and your friend can encourage one another, you are less likely to blow off exercise on a given day when you know your friend is waiting for you.

Take the kids

Is there a parent-child class that would allow you to really work out, your child to get some exercise and both of you to have fun? Maybe your child could ride his bike alongside while you run. A jogging stroller might add extra resistance and effort to your same old jog.

Try a new exercise

If you've been exercising aerobically with the aim of endurance, maybe it's time to introduce interval training. Or maybe you can add tone by adding some simple strength exercises. Some balance ball work or yoga might complement your elliptical work. If you already do strength training, how about trying out that rowing machine you've been eyeing at the gym? If you use exercise DVDs at home, maybe it's time for a new DVD. Trying a new exercise has the added benefit of making your exercise more complete.

Try a goal

Goals can be anything from a reward to an accomplishment. While I tend to avoid food rewards (somewhat, though not always, negating the intent of the exercise), picking up a favorite movie on DVD or a new book to enjoy can be a reward for meeting a distance or speed goal. If your exercise is associated with a weight-loss goal, maybe that stunning dress you've had your eye on is the reward you shoot for.Perhaps the incentive you need is an event. A friend and I have agreed to do a sprint triathlon in our area in the fall, and it has given us a tremendous boost (not to mention focus) for our regular exercise.However you vary your exercise routine, the point is to keep the routine doable so you keep doing it. Shake it up!

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