5 Quick Ways To Put The Spark Back In Your Routine For 2015

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When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, sometimes a drastic fitness and nutrition overhaul can seem overwhelming, or simply unrealistic. You can still make some positive and significant changes by breaking it down into simple, doable steps. The trick is to keep it interesting by throwing in some unexpected twists here and there. Ready for a fun-filled 2015? Here are five fitness and weight loss tips with an element of surprise.

1. Don’t Stop the Music

There may actually be a scientific explanation for the notion that music gets us “pumped up” for exercise. Turns out your blood vessel function is actually boosted when you exercise to music. A recent study researched the effects of music on exercise and found that participants who worked out while listening to music they loved for 30 minutes a day over 3 weeks boosted their nitric oxide (the artery-dilating enzyme) levels by 44%. So do yourself a favor and put together a fun-filled playlist for your next workout.

2. Rev Up Your Recovery Period

If your goal is fat loss….listen up! Once you’ve been exercising for a while,  start adding new challenges and switching your routine up a bit so that you can avoid plateaus and continue to see results.

To do this, try interval training (also known as High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT). This type of exercising refers to the extra energy and intensity added to a workout, usually in quick spurts. Say you’re jogging along at a moderate, comfortable pace, but then for the next 30 seconds, you run at a full sprint before dropping back into a comfortable pace (a recovery period). Then you repeat the pattern for several minutes.

After practicing interval training, try cutting 5 to 10 seconds off your recovery periods between intervals. This helps keep your heart rate elevated throughout your workout – which means  more calories burnt in less time.

3. Show Me Your Food!

Researchers at University of Minnesota and Harvard found that a pre-meal ritual can actually enhance the enjoyment of your food. Their study followed people who performed a unique hand movement right before eating carrots. The result: They actually enjoyed eating the carrots more! So why not try a little pre-meal ritual of your own?

Here’s one suggestion: Take a fun shot of your food right before you eat it and share it with your friends and with me. You can reach me on Twitter @kathyfit or on Instagram @KathySmithFitness. I look forward to seeing your yummy meals!

4. Push the Speed Limit

Longtime runners often run the risk of injuring the knee or hip joints. So a recent study at University of Wisconsin examined how those bodyparts are affected when you switch up your stride rate. The results were interesting indeed: By increasing their stride rate by just 5%, runners reduced the impact on their hips and knees by 10%. Yet another reason (beyond the calorie-burning boost) to feel the need for speed.

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5. New Juice on the Block

A tough cardio session doesn’t always have to result in extensive soreness afterward. Men’s Health covered a recent Spanish study on the benefits of watermelon juice, and found that L-citrulline, an amino acid that helps speed up the elimination of lactic acid from your muscles, is found in high concentration in watermelon juice – and L-citrulline doesn’t just help prevent soreness. It can also improve your physical performance. So about 1 hour before your next intense cardio workout, blend up some chunks of seedless watermelon, drink a glass and enjoy the results!

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