Bored With Your Workouts? You're Not Alone. Here's How To Keep Your Gains And Motivation

We get it: keeping up the motivation to exercise is its own challenge. Momentum can make or break any routine. While tackling the first run or gym day may spark a fiery enthusiasm for getting outside and being active, monotonous workout routines can fall prey to our busy lives and short attention spans. Doesn't there always seem to be something else that deserves our time and awareness? And when we begin strength training at the gym, running along the street, or at our own homes, it doesn't take long for our minds to wander to the long list of other things that could be filling our time that also need to be done.

But science has a reason why we get so bored with our workouts so quickly. Mastering the motivation to get to the gym once isn't enough to stay in shape, but learning to switch up your exercise routines can make working out more fun and improve consistency — and help you get closer to your fitness goals.

How brain stimulation keeps you engaged

Brain stimulation will ensure that you avoid boredom. Our brains love to learn new things. Once we have conquered some kind of stimulation and understand what kind of response it will evoke, we start looking for new stimuli. The Berkley Well-Being Institute defines habituation as the most basic form of learning that many species have demonstrated. In fact, small animals — including single-celled organisms — can become habituated. For humans, we can build off each little habituation until we have learned a new skill specific to our species, like playing musical instruments or driving cars.

But if you don't exert your brain and expose it to new stimuli, you will find that your brain gets bored. Just like your body, your brain needs exercise, too. You have likely heard tips about how jigsaw puzzles or learning a new language can keep your brain young. However, you can combine exercising your mind and body to keep them both at their best.

No new workouts means no new stimuli for your brain

Our brains require stimuli in order to stay engaged in activities. Trying new foods, speaking another language, or playing an instrument excites the brain and triggers it to develop neuropathways you didn't have before. When you become used to that new task, your brain becomes habituated. A habituated brain is not necessarily a happy brain, cognitive neuroscientist Nan Wise, Ph.D., told Well+Good. Our brains follow the motto of "out with the old and in with the new." They are constantly searching for new stimuli. Finding new stimuli is vital for maintaining the brain's plasticity, which is the process of forming new cell pathways and helps us learn new things better. We search for new experiences because, if not, our brains get bored. This same cycle happens with our workout routines, which is why doing the same exercises can become a drag.

Change up your workout routine with classes and unique forms of exercise

Keeping your brain from becoming too habituated in your exercise routine may make finding the motivation to work out easier. Sign up for an activity that gives you something to look forward to or gives you a tinge of exciting nerves. Rock climbing, for example, is a great way to build upper body strength while testing your flexibility and grip — literally and figuratively. "Queer Eye" star Jonathan Van Ness took to adult gymnastics and ice skating to stay active, and so can you. Flipping around and skating on the ice is a sure way to light up your neuropathways and keep your brain engaged. Swimming is another excellent full-body workout that may diverge from your usual weightlifting or running regimen.

Find a gym that offers different kinds of workout classes and exercise spaces. But don't just assign each day of the week to a specific kind of workout class because your brain will get used to that after a few weeks. Instead, take initiative with your routine and sign up for a range of classes or activities that test both your strength and mental dexterity. Don't be afraid to try something new and step outside of your comfort zone: that is how your brain stays at its best and brightest.

Shake up your routine by learning dance steps

Taking up dance classes will be a great way to stay on your toes while keeping your brain engaged. Studies show that your memory and mental skills can improve with exercise, specifically dancing. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites dancing as a beneficial exercise to prevent Alzheimer's disease. Many gyms offer dance-inspired workout classes, such as YMCA's Groove Together Program. Ballroom dance classes are another great opportunity, especially if you're looking to get a friend or partner involved to show off your skills at an upcoming wedding or event.

YouTube dance exercise tutorials offer an extra convenient opportunity for shaking up your workout routine and keeping your brain engaged. MadFit on YouTube has a "Taylor Swift Dance Party Workout" about 15 minutes long for Swifties looking for a short but fun exercise. If musical theatre is your guilty pleasure, do some cardio while learning choreography with a video like Kyra Pro's "20 Minute Musical Mashup Dance Workout."

Find a change of scenery

If trying a new skill is not up your alley, don't worry: you can still avoid boredom in your workouts by exposing your brain to stimuli it isn't used to. Many use running as a form of exercise, but have you considered switching from the treadmill to an outdoor trail? Running outside offers extra benefits that you may not find in the gym, such as taking in vitamin D and avoiding screentime-induced stress. Outdoor running — especially in a trail or park — has an especially attractive plus for those looking to avoid boredom in their workouts. From spotting animals to appreciating the beautiful trees and sprouting flowers, the visual stimulation of running on a trail or at a park will keep your brain extra engaged. Running outside releases even more calming and happy chemicals, perhaps even strengthening your brain's memory and attention span.

The options for switching up your workout routine are endless. Whenever you get bored with one form of exercise, don't be afraid to change your scenery or try something new.