Cross training is the best way to train if you want to lower your risk of injury, and keep boredom out of your exercise regime. I have covered this topic before, but like everything I have written about, it is worth revisiting. Basically, cross training is using a variety of training methods to achieve your fitness goals.
I believe that you must do cardiovascular exercise along with strength training, and stretching to have a complete fitness program. In some forms of exercise you can achieve more than one of these objectives by performing one exercise. For instance, if you are hiking in an area where there is steep terrain, you will not only receive benefits for cardiovascular exercise, but you will be getting strength training for your legs and butt as well. You can find a spot to do a few sets of push ups along the way, and you have worked much of your body with this one hike.
Perhaps the next day you will decide to do some weight training, and cardio on the treadmill, concluding with a few yoga poses. The following day you take a fast pace walk interspersed with a little jogging, followed by a stretch. Then the day after that you take a bike ride, come home and do several minutes of plank exercise, and then a floor stretch. Then you decide to take a kick boxing class at your local gym the day after that. This is what cross training is.
Cross training not only helps you to avoid injury and boredom, it will help the body to keep from acclimating to, or getting used to doing one activity over and over by using fewer calories and energy to do it. Cross training confuses the body more and doesn't allow this acclimating process to happen as easily.
As a fitness trainer for thirty years I can tell you that variety is the best way to train. However, I also understand that there are only so many ways to train your biceps, or train your shoulders safely. Sometimes we have to be O.K. with a certain amount of repetition when it comes to training the body. People come up with weird things all of the time in the fitness world, but many of the "old" standard exercises that are a safe, are better way to train then some of the new and different ways created just to be different.
I love to ride my bike, sand run, hike, race walk, and jog. Strength training for me involves free weights, weight machines, the exercise ball, and resistance exercises like the plank. These are the types of exercises that I use to cross train. I have never used swimming for exercise, but it is a great thing to add in to your cross training program if you like it. The key is to "like" the exercises that you are choosing. If you are doing something that you really hate, you won't want to do it. Find the things that you enjoy to create your cross training program.
I tend to exercise by myself most of the time, but I do like to ride bikes, or hike with a friends. Actually, I recommend that you always hike with a friend, or friends, as it is safer to do so. Many people are more motivated to exercise with somebody, rather than go it alone. Find out what works for you and follow through with it. If you need a work out buddy, find a partner that is not going to flake out on you. Make the commitment together to get into shape, and then keep each other accountable to your fitness schedule.
Cross training can make your exercise program much more enjoyable. Lowering your risk of injury is a great plus. This happens because your body is using different muscles, in different ways, which allows the body to not be over used by doing one type of exercise . Elite athletes sometimes experience injury due to the fact that they are performing the same sport or exercise over and over again, creating fatigue and weakness in areas of their bodies. They must do this to be the best at their particular sport, but most of us do not need to over use our bodies in this way.
So create a cross training program for yourself to avoid boredom, and lower your risk of injury. You will have better results and enjoy your workouts more when you add in variety. It all adds up to being fit, healthy, and looking great!