By Marilynn Preston

It’s August, and my friend Bobby mentions he’s bored with his running routine. (I’m a certified fitness trainer. People tell me these things.)

He’s on the treadmill most every day, pounding it out, mile after mile, sparking no joy whatsoever. But it’s still good for him, right? Not really. Exercise is the miracle drug we all know, but when your workouts are b-o-r-i-n-g, you’re more likely to get injured. Or quit! Bummer.

This column is dedicated to all the Bobbies out there who feel burned out and bored, who want to shake up their humdrum routine with something new, something fresh – something special from Preston’s Bag of Tricks for Beating the Summertime Blahs:

Work out in Water

Summer is the perfect time to dive into pool training. I don’t mean laps – though we applaud all swimmers, everywhere – but targeted, vigorous, sport-specific water workouts, geared to your sport. They are wonderfully refreshing, and can make you a faster runner, a higher jumper, a more agile tennis player, golfer, birdwatcher, whatever.

If you can’t find a smart trainer to guide you, be bold and make up your own routine. Simply strap on a buoyancy belt – I love my Aquajogger – and imitate the motion of your sport while you’re suspended in the water. That’s it.

You can run, cross-country ski, practice your backhand or even swing an imaginary seven iron.

Sport-specific water workouts will rock your world for two reasons: there’s no stress on your joints; and two, the resistance of the water makes you stronger and more flexible in the precise range of motion you use to play your sport on land. Cool.

Gather Friends

Boredom is banished when you play something new with people you like. So gather some friends, and brainstorm about a new activity you’ve curious about. Pitch in on a croquet set. Or look for a disc (as in Frisbee) golf course in your area and laugh your way from hole to hole. Bocce ball, anyone?

There’s no limit to the possibilities: Why not hire a badminton teacher for an hour or two? Or organize a team and run, bike or swim for charity? Competitive kite-flying? Midnight bowling?

Fun kills boredom. It’s as simple as that.

Take Four Lessons

This is a variation on the scheme above, but it’s a solo act and takes you deeper into a sport or activity you’ve dreamed about but haven’t been able to make a reality.

Take a moment, breathe deeply, let go of any fear or insecurity that’s been holding you back.

Have you always wanted to take a stab at fencing? Wall-climbing? Swing dancing?

This summer, give yourself the gift of four lessons in an activity you’ve only fantasized about. Commit to four: one to get started; the second to come back to; the third to relax, suspect judgement, just enjoy; and the fourth to give you an entirely new perspective on life.

Walk Backward

It’ll look goofy, but you can reverse a downward slide into boredom – and add muscle – by walking (or running) backward. Of course, you have to overcome some fear and be careful. Duh. Do it with a pal who faces forward and guides you, or keep sneaking peeks to make sure the path is clear. Those little mirrors that bikers clip on their glasses work well, too.

Why backward? Because it moves your joints in the opposite direction, which balances muscle strength and increases flexibility. All these things will help make you a healthier, happier, more confident person, this summer and moving forward.

Challenge yourself

If you do the same workout at the same pace, day after summer day, you and your bored body go on remote control. That’s why people hire or share trainers to shake things up and come up with new moves, new challenges.

This summer, I challenge you to challenge yourself. If you’re a runner, add sprints, also known as interval training. If you’re a walker, find uphill routes that make your heart beat faster. If you’re into basketball, do 100 free throws a day until you’re channeling your inner Stephen Curry.

And Bobby? Next time he tells me he’s bored with his running routine, I’m going to suggest he replace two runs a week with the best yoga teacher he can find.

What are friends for?


– Marilynn Preston is the author of Energy Express, America’s longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new book “All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being” is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com.