Yes, you read that correctly. I'm suggesting you become LESS efficient when you exercise.
But what does this mean?
Your body is smart. Maybe even brilliant! And you have built-in mechanisms for becoming better at whatever you do on a daily basis. By better, I mean more efficient. So if you walk your dog through the same park every day, as I do, your body will become accustomed to that particular walk. At first, you might feel tired after walking around the park, but pretty soon, it will feel like nothing. This is because you will be burning fewer and fewer calories each time you perform the same exact actions. Your body knows what is coming and is prepared for it.
However, if you change it up, your body will be shocked into burning more calories. You can change it up by finding a different route to walk, walking faster, wearing a weighted vest or backpack, jogging part or all of the walk, sprinting up the hills, walking backwards, etc. Each little change will mean more calories burned as your body figures out how to cope with the changes.
You can use this to your advantage if you're trying to lose weight by constantly throwing new stuff at your body. If you are fantastic at running, by all means keep running, but also throw in a day of swimming, rock climbing, or yoga. If you are awesome at ice dancing, try playing soccer, softball, or tennis. If you usually take a Pilates class, try Zumba, kick-boxing, or bootcamp.
Of course, it feels great to practice something you are already good at. I get that! And it might mean taking a hit to the ego when you start all over again as a beginner in a new activity. But that is another reason to give it a try. The activity you are already good at probably plays to your strengths. Maybe you have strong calf muscles and love to jog, but you're super tight and hate yoga. I think it's pretty obvious that yoga would be a great addition to your schedule. Your tight calves would get stretched out, you'd have a chance to develop new skills like balance, flexibility, and upper body strength, all while breathing deeply and letting go of stress. The two activities are a marriage made in exercise heaven!
If you're not already mixing it up, this is a great time to start. Pick up a new sport, a new class, or a new hobby this spring and be a beginner all over again. Burn more calories while you learn new skills. Win win!