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5 Ways to Mix Up Your Fitness Routine — Now!

Enjoy yourself while getting the exercise you need

En español l To provide an element of fun to my workout, I like to mix up my exercise routines, doing a variety of activities. I think the variety helps me stay motivated, plus gets me in great shape. The way I see it, there's no excuse for getting bored with exercising.

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Want to reduce your stress levels? Try yoga. — Getty Images

Even so, perhaps you are a little bored. Walking or lifting weights no longer motivates you. You want something new. Well, I've got some ideas. I've listed some of my new favorite forms of exercise below. Look through them, then choose a couple that appeal to you. Try to get some exercise in most days of the week.

As always, be sure to consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.

1. Retrograde Exercising. This activity is similar to backward drills, common in numerous sports, including tennis, basketball and football. Now people are trying it as part of their fitness programs. Basically, it involves motions like backward stair climbing (hold on to rails!), which is great for exercising and rehabbing the knee joints. Or walking backward, which helps elongate the trunk and front of the body. If you try retrograde exercising, watch your posture, form and safety to get the most from it.

2. Belly Dancing. As workouts go, belly dancing is a moderate, low-impact exercise routine. But you will leave sweaty. Much of the focus is on your core, so you can almost dance your way to a flatter belly.

3. Zumba. Another dance you must try: Zumba is a fusion of aerobics and Latin dance moves (think salsa, merengue, etc.). What I like about it is that you don't have to have any skill. Just move your body, following the instructor as best you can. Dancing is difficult for a lot of us — something I learned from being on Dancing With the Stars — but you can do this. The music is empowering and uplifting. You just can't help but move to the tunes. Best of all: Zumba can burn up to 500 calories an hour. Most gyms and health spas offer classes, so look into it.

4. Yoga. It's not exactly new — in fact, it's thousands of years old — but I encourage you to make it "new" in your exercise routine. During and after my treatments for breast cancer, I discovered that yoga can really reduce stress (few things are more stressful than a bad diagnosis). Yoga is taught everywhere — in gyms, health clubs, community centers, on television, in DVDs, even private yoga studios. And it's great for people of all ages. Don't worry about whether you're flexible enough to try the postures. Maybe you can't bend backward far enough to let your head brush against the floor, but everyone is limber enough to try yoga. And if you stick with it long enough, someday you might be able to twist into a human pretzel. I'm not there yet, by the way, but I keep at it.

5. NIA (neuromuscular integrative action). Here's a light workout that's great for us, no matter how old we may be. NIA offers all the benefits of cardio fitness, strength building and toning, and it's especially useful if you're recovering from an injury. In an NIA class, you'll be guided through a series of smooth movements to stretch your muscles and work your heart. Just follow your instructor, and when she says, "Go with the flow," do it! The music is mellow (how does instrumental jazz sound?), more relaxing than pounding. I think you'll love the easy motion of NIA and the surprising results it brings to your body and health.

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