Why You Should Try Something Entirely New This Year

Unfamiliar physical challenges and movement patterns have an extraordinary effect on your brain and body.

Are your new year’s resolutions based on reigniting the same old routines? Consider trying something entirely new this year. It may be intimidating, but trying new things can open your eyes to unexplored possibilities when it comes to fitness. It doesn’t have to be scary or expensive, and you will see incredible benefits for both brain and body. Here are five great reasons to try something new for your fitness.

Hang gliding has been a fun way to improve my shoulder strength.

1. It’s Good for Your Brain

Unfamiliar movement patterns have an extraordinary effect on brain health. They may even prevent memory loss and neurodegenerative diseases. Just as resistance exercises strengthen muscle fibers, learning new skills strengthens the connections between neurons and different areas of the brain.

With the increasing prevalence of brain disease among young and old alike, researchers are scrambling to piece together the puzzle of the human brain. Their findings suggest we may be able to delay the onset of disease or prevent it entirely by challenging our brains in the same way we challenge our bodies.

2. Prevent Burnout

One of the most common complaints I hear is that working out is boring or not enjoyable, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Injecting your fitness regimen with some fun and excitement is easier than you might think. The first step is to engage in a new sport, activity, or mode of training.

If you’ve been hitting the treadmill three days a week for the last few years, it’s no wonder you’re bored. Your body has adapted to the stress, so it no longer elicits visible results. Unless you try something different, burnout is right around the corner.

3. Improve Your Athleticism

I grew up taking Taekwondo lessons, but I’ve always had an interest in dance. At age 27, I finally signed up for my first ballet class, and I love it. Once a week, I slip on pink ballet shoes and instantly feel like a more graceful, lean, and coordinated athlete. After several weeks of classes, I’m starting to feel comfortable with the basic positions and barre exercises, and my legs feel more powerful as a result. You may never see me on stage, but I’m happy to have found a new activity that I enjoy and have plenty of room to improve in.

4. Work Neglected Muscles

Ballet strengthens my calves and teaches me how to use the smaller muscles in my legs and core. Stand-up paddle boarding empowers me to use my core muscles to stay balanced. Most recently, I learned I needed more shoulder strength to improve my ground handling of a hang glider. If you’ve recently reached an existing goal in your sport or fitness, or if you’re just not sure what areas you need to improve in, try something new. You may find you’re sore in some unexpected places the next day. That soreness is a clue to what you have been neglecting.

5. Appreciate High-Level Athletes

When the world was gearing up for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, I did two things I’d never done before: I went cross-country skiing and took a curling lesson. Not only did I have a great time learning new skills, but I gained a better appreciation for the athletes who compete in both sports. I’ve always enjoyed watching the Olympics, but suddenly it felt even more exciting and, at the same time, more relatable.

Fitness Should be Fun

As a fitness professional, I’ve found that trying new activities gives me a better understanding of how the body responds to movement, and it’s made me a more versatile athlete in the process. Fitness can and should be fun and exciting. If every workout takes place within your comfort zone, you’ll never reach your full potential.

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Photos courtesy of Maggie Morehart.