Finding the right exercise is not always easy. Often, I see people in my office who have quit exercising because they had a bad experience or were unable to stick with it for a variety of reasons. Often my patients have a very narrow view of what exercise is. My purpose in this article is to help you figure out how to choose the best exercise for you. I know if you can do that, exercise will be a regular part of your life and you will experience many of the awesome benefits that exercise brings.
The purpose of exercise is to change the body into something better. Sometimes exercise occurs when we are accomplishing a task like mowing the lawn. Many people do it intentionally for fitness. However, depending on the exercise, and how frequently it happens, the results will vary. For example, weightlifting builds strength and muscle, cardio melts fat and builds cardiovascular strength, and bodyweight training helps with balance. Unfortunately, not every exercise can be done by everyone. If I wanted to get in shape by cross country skiing, I would be out of luck because I live in the desert. Sometimes there are certain logistical factors that make great exercises relatively impossible. Damaged joints, fitness levels, and previous injuries also limit what exercises can be achieved realistically.
There are three main things that factor into choosing the best exercise for you.
- What is the goal?
- Are there any physical limitations?
- What are the logistical factors?
The best exercise could be p90x, rowing, walking, hiking, backpacking, basketball, swimming, bike riding, weight lifting, circuit training, jumping jacks, horseback riding, playing catch, golf (if you walk), cross training, yoga, badminton, racquetball, whiffle ball, mixing concrete, climbing a tree, rock climbing, house cleaning, tug of war, falconry, fencing, wrestling, skipping on the beach singing the theme song of “Chariots of Fire,” being a Wipe Out contestant, shoveling, football, running after bad guys, moving, lifting people just for the fun of it, archery elk hunting (rifle is too easy, therefore cannot be considered exercise), paddle boarding, skiing (water and snow), playing games like paintball or air-soft or martial arts, snowball fights, really enthusiastic hugging, throwing things, moving big rocks, planting a tree, and finally, building a fire with sticks could choose to be the best exercise for you!
Does it achieve your goals?
- What good is an exercise if it doesn’t accomplish the physical changes a person needs?
- What good is an exercise if it caused an injury, or aggravated an existing injury?
- What good is an exercise if logistical issues prevent it?
Regardless of how good an exercise is physiologically, if it didn’t accomplish what was needed, it’s not worthwhile. Right? It is very frustrating to exercise regularly and not hit the goal.
The best exercise is:
- The exercise you will DO, and
- that accomplishes your GOAL, and
- that does NOT HURT you.
I would love to know what you think about this. Does this make sense? Does it raise any other questions?
Most of all I hope it gets you thinking about doing exercise. There are so many benefits to exercise, and there are few things you can do for yourself that will give back as much. See my article about the top 25 proven benefits of exercise HERE if you need some motivation to get moving, and to find out how to choose the best exercise for you!