4 Common Exercises and the Benefits They Offer

Whether you are a seasoned marathon runner looking to take your training to the next level, or a brand new runner trying to maximize your initial gains while minimizing soreness, the benefits of cross-training are numerous.

Virtually any type of physical activity can be helpful for your running — from yoga to polo, simply finding an engaging workout that you enjoy is the most important step. However, for the sake of showing off some examples, this article will discuss four of the most popular forms of cross training and how they help runners just like you to reach their short and long-term fitness goals.

1. Cycling

From mountain biking to street cycling, riding a bike is an obvious choice for runners simply because it is accessible and offers similar physical demands to running. It elevates the heart rate, requires a fair amount of stamina, and is leg-driven. However, there are a few differences from running, too. One of the biggest appeals of cycling is that it lower-impact: runners who struggle with joint pain or other frequent injuries will be happy to substitute some of those pavement-pounding jogs with a bit of peddling. Biking can also be a good muscle-builder, especially for trail-based bikers who like hitting inclines.

2. Swimming

Water aerobics are even lower-impact than cycling, so this is another fantastic choice for people who want to be careful and conscientious. Swimming won’t build leg muscle in the same way that biking could, but it does offer the benefit of being an extremely well-rounding exercise that contributes to core strength and upper-body stamina. A strong core allows runners to build endurance and maintain better posture even when fatigued, so long-distance runners are ideal candidates for a swimming cross-training routine.

3. Weight Lifting

Sprinters and even 5K runners tend to work for a different build than what marathon runners aim for — so if you are a short-distance runner who wants to add a bit more drive and power to your stride, then pumping some iron might be a good choice for you. Weight lifting also adds definition and stamina that is enviable for nearly all athletes, though; and even marathon runners have been known to adapt a light-weight high-repetition weight lifting routine for the purpose of strengthening their cores while looking and feeling great.

4. Sports

Competition brings out the best in most athletes — as does consistency. And because the ‘fun factor’ is crucial to remaining consistent even on those days when you are feeling too busy or worn out to continue, we highly recommend finding a sport you are passionate about. This could mean heading down to the courts at the gym, joining the company softball team, or even signing up for virtual races: whatever you need to do to stay competitive and motivated for the long haul. An added bonus for these kinds of activity? They are a great way to make friends and stay engaged with your community!