I am a huge advocate for physical activity, and believe that moving our bodies daily has a tremendous impact on our minds, our bodies, and our spirits. But, as with diets, there are many different theories around exercise and the types we should be doing. From yoga to running, CrossFit to spinning, there are many opportunities, so which is best?
I approach exercise just as I approach eating. Everyone is different so individual preference, age, personality, and many other factors need to be considered. Ultimately, find something that you enjoy doing, that way you will be far more likely to make it a habit.
There are four categories of exercise. Try to find something from each category that feels right for you. Here are some examples:
- aerobic/endurance – increases your heart rate, works cardiovascular system
- running, walking, swimming, dancing, cycling, hiking, rowing
- strength – increases lean muscle mass
- weight lifting, push ups, pull-ups, crunches, squats, lunges, tricep dips, yoga
- balance – improves ability to control your body’s position, find center of gravity
- yoga, tai chi
- flexibility – improves range of motion, stretches muscles
- yoga, tai chi, stretching
Aside from promoting heart health, losing weight, and toning up, exercise has many other great benefits. It can calm the mind, reduce stress and anxiety, create feelings of happiness, boost energy, and improve memory and thinking skills.
When considering what exercise will be best for you, think about your personality and your typical day to day activities. Are you always go, go, go, with a busy schedule and a restless mind? Perhaps yoga or tai chi would be a great option to help eliminate physical stress and promote relaxation. On the other hand, if you are often sedentary and have low energy throughout your day, something more energetic may be good for you, such as spin class, zumba, or brisk walking. The key is to find balance. Too much energy in our days will eventually burn us out, and too little energy will facilitate the growth of disease in our bodies.
If you are a person living a sedentary lifestyle looking for ways to increase your mobility, there are ways to encourage yourself to keep on track. Many watches and fitness trackers are a great tool to track steps, count calories burned, and allow you to compete with friends/family if you are a driven competitor. It is recommended that people take around 10,000 steps per day, and trackers are a great way to give you an estimate of your progress. If you respond well to group training rather than going at it alone, perhaps you could get together with friends, family, neighbors, or members of the community for group walks and activities. Trying out state forests, parks, and local trails may be a fun way to start.
Be easy on yourself when adopting any new lifestyle. Moving even a little bit is better than not moving at all – and keep in mind that you don’t have to be pouring sweat and out of breath to have done wonders for your health and wellbeing.