WHAT’S THE MOST EFFECTIVE WORKOUT FOR YOU?
All exercises are beneficial, but there’re many ways to get healthy – use this easy guide to decide what’s most suitable for your fitness needs
Regular physical activity can improve health and fitness, but when we think of exercise, many of us tend to picture strenuous activities such as jogging or cycling — the ones that make you breathe hard and drip with perspiration. However, aerobic activity is only one out of many types of exercise. Although it may be critical for boosting fitness, there are many other forms of exercise that are important for different, yet complementary reasons.
In fact, some of the best physical activities for your body don’t require the gym, nor getting marathon-fit. And yet, these exercises can do wonders for your health by helping to keep your weight under control, improving your balance and range of motion, strengthening your bones, protecting your joints, and even ward off memory loss.
Regardless of your age or fitness level, being physically active is a key step towards good heart health. Here’s how different types of exercise can benefit you:
FOR GAINING MUSCLE
Strength training: We lose muscle mass as we age, and resistance training is one of the best ways to build it back up. Weight lifting can build muscle while strengthening bones and connective tissue. And if you’re concerned building bulk, don’t be – lifting light weights won’t bulk you up, but will keep you strong. Another plus – muscle mass also helps to burn more calories! According to the American College of Sports Medicine, aiming for at least two non-consecutive days per week of resistance training, is a good rule of thumb.
Cardio: Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which leads to lowered heart rate and blood pressure. Other health benefits include a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes (and if you’re already living with the condition, aerobic exercise can help you to keep your blood glucose levels under control). Running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, and playing tennis are some great ways to increase your stamina with regular aerobic training. Ideally, aim exercise at least five times a week, and for minimally 30 minutes each time. Note that if you can easily carry on a conversation during an aerobic exercise, you’re likely not working hard enough.
FOR YOUR MIND
Walking: Walking is a basic activity with a multitude of health benefits – it can improve cholesterol levels, help keep blood pressure in check, and lower your risk for health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. In addition, mounting evidence suggests that a brisk walk can better your mind and resist age-related memory loss, possibly by stimulating the parts of your brain that are involved in memory and learning. All you need is a pair of well-fitting and supportive pair of walking shoes. Start with 15 minutes and work your way up to 60 minutes of daily walking.
FOR HEALTHY WEIGHT LOSS
High-intensity interval training (HIIT): HIIT exercises work your cardiovascular system and get your heart rate up. The best part? HIIT workouts are short, usually lasting no more than 20mins to 30 mins, which makes them perfect for time-starved folks who want to pack in a short but effective workout in their work day. Studies suggest that brief, repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise make your heart and lungs work better, and may help people (at least in the short term), lose some of the more worrisome types of body fat. This type of workout not only reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, it also lowers the potential for Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Yoga or Pilates: You could be very fit aerobically, but if your muscles aren’t flexible and your tendons are tight, you could easily pull something while training and end up injured. Involving balancing and slow stretches, Yoga and Pilates are two of the most proven ways to increase flexibility and improve range of motion (even in older or sedentary adults). Many of us don’t realise it, but flexibility is also key for strength training as it improves your range of motions around your joints, enabling you to perform lifts and other moves more effectively, thus reducing the risk of injury. And there’s another therapeutic benefit – these exercises are great for relaxation too and may support better sleep at night.
Yoga and Pilates are wonderful for beginners and experienced practitioners alike. The Yoga School offers a great mix of yoga and Pilates classes so come try them for yourself and discover what works best for you.