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Q: I have an exercise program that I’ve started to do 3-4 times a week. I like it, but I’ve heard that cross training is good. Should I be doing something different once or twice a week instead of my program?
A: Most fitness people agree that cross-training is beneficial, both physically and psychologically. Ideally, it keeps you fresh and interested and makes working out more stimulating and fun. With planning, one activity supports and compliments the other; this can help keep the athlete healthy and injury-free.
There are a couple of things to consider, however. How long have you been doing your exercise plan? Has it become habitual, i.e., you automatically go and do it, without considering (at least most days) bagging it? That is, does it feel like a solid part of your life? When something positive becomes a habit, we don’t need to use our finite amount of will power to make that positive thing happen–then we have more energy to focus on other things (eating nutritious food, watching less tv, for example). So it might be a good idea to really establish your exercise routine before changing it.
It’s also important to remember to start a new exercise routine slowly. You might feel like you have a good base established with your present routine, but that doesn’t mean that you have a base established for something different. For example, say you’ve been cycling 3 times a week and you’re thinking of cross- training with weightlifting. Great idea! It’s important to get some advice from a trainer, though, so you avoid injuries.
In short, cross-training is great to add to an established routine if you get some advice and take it slow.