Back to School for Grown-ups

Photography by: Dominick Guillemot
Back to School for Grown-ups

If you loved: RECESS
Now try: UPDATING YOUR FITNESS ROUTINE

From four square to a simple game of tag, recess was always full of variety. As an adult, changing up your workout can feel like a hassle or risk, but it pays to make the effort to do it. “New routines exercise different muscle groups and help prevent repetitive strain injuries from doing the same exercise over and over,” says Jeffrey Rossman, Ph.D., director of Life Management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass. He says even small changes yield big results: For instance, adding just 10 minutes to your cardio routine lets you burn an extra 135 calories. “Do that every day for a year and you’ll lose 13 pounds.”

According to Jill Harris, owner of Informed Body, a Pilates studio in San Francisco, when you’re physically challenged with a new routine, you also think about moving your body in a new way—from staying intently focused on each movement to holding your posture differently. The mental perks are pretty great, too. For one, you get a rush of accomplish ment after pushing through a new challenge. Fresh activities also keep your brain sharp, says Rossman, stimulating the brain to create new neural networks, especially when you’re forced to be fast on your feet (think tennis, martial arts or dancing).

If you start exercising with other people, the rewards are even greater. In groups, we share and receive encouragement, feel part of a community and experience accountability. “Working out with others also helps us transform exercise into play, which reminds us of the joy we had running, jumping or playing with our friends before we were told it was ‘exercise,’ ” says Rossman. Fitness disguised as play is effective, too: An hour of swimming and playing pool games is no different than splitting time between light weights and moderate cardio. Prefer to boogie? Thirty minutes of dancing burns up to 400 calories.