Whether a food, a sport, or holiday activity, our bet is that at least once over your life — most likely growing up — you’ve heard the (exasperated) phrase: “Just try it, at least once.” Well, it turns out those people (most likely your parents, let’s be real) might have actually been right…for once.
Well, kind of. When it comes to the realm of fitness. If you’ve ever attended a new workout, a new class, and felt such a rush — that you never experienced again on your return — that’s actually a common phenomenon. So, you should try something once. But only once. Well, kind of. We’ll get into it.
Not only is trying out a form as exercise as a novice a novelty, it actually has a host of benefits. Dr M. Brennan Harris, associate professor of kinesiology and health sciences at William & Mary College, speaking to The Cut explained that a new form of exercise is “always a new stressor”. Expanding on this, “When the body sees new stress, you will have a higher heart rate as a result.”
Essentially, your body adapts to patterns — think about the first time you went on a 5K run, compared to the 55th. Your body finds it less demanding over time; it’s easier and more natural. Whereas, if you throw a swim or spin class in there — your body has to play catch up to the change in pattern. Or as Dr Harris says, when the motion is different, “The muscle feels that strain.”
The novelty of it also makes it good for you — it increases the perceived work of exercise in the brain. Speaking to The Cut, Kelsey Holland, the director for the Center for Fitness and Wellness at Pennsylvania State University, says learning a new activity engages you more mentally, as opposed to repeated exercise. “Your brain is extremely active when learning these motor pathways.”
That’s not to say you can’t come back to a new exercise — but to keep the novelty around it going, revisit it once a month. As Dr Harris says, “It’s still going to feel hard once a month.” And with so many different activities and exercises out there, you can just keep trying new things and keep your body going.