I often find people are looking for the “best type of exercise” or toting that their particular brand of fitness is “the best”. “CrossFit is the best!” “Powerlifting is the best” “Oh my gosh, zumba = love!” So really what is the best type of exercise?
First and most importantly, the best type of exercise is something that you enjoy or like enough to keep at it. Do you like yoga? Zumba? Running? Weight lifting? CrossFit? It doesn’t matter what the activity is just as long as it keeps you active. That is your first goal. Being active.
Ignore people who say a particular form of exercise is best for everyone. That kind of exercise doesn’t exist except in fairytale land. That statement ignores that everyone has different likes & dislikes, injuries (current & previous), needs & wants, goals…
Secondly, the best type of exercise allows you to meet your goals.
You’ve met your first goal: You’re active consistently, but you don’t have any other goals.Goals are important because they give you motivation, allow you to see/monitor progress, and allow you to feel accomplished.
Your goals can be whatever you want. Weightloss? Fine. Increase strength? great! Reduce body fat? fabulous! Increase endurance? Go for it! Run a marathon? good luck! ;). Exercise 30minutes 3-4x a week? lovely! Your goals are for you and no one else.
Establish long and short term goals. Long term goals are more general and/or take time. Short term goals are for shorter periods of time and/or are stepping stones to larger goals.
Okay, so you’re already active..you have goals, but you can’t seem to get any closer.
Does this activity allow you to meet your goals? Are you training appropriately?If you’re trying to run a triathlon, you wouldn’t spend your entire training season in yoga. While yoga is beneficial to the triathlete, yoga will not prepare you physically for a tri.
If I want to run a marathon, I can’t expect powerlifting to get me 26.2 miles. I also can’t expect to learn to samba by weightlifting.
Similarly, if I am trying to build muscle (or that horrible word, tone) I am not going to log hours on the elliptical.
Train your body to reach your goals. Choose activities first that you enjoy and then from there focus on those that will optimize your training.
Is there any activity that can help with EVERY goal?
Weight-lifting properly programmed can help everyone. Weightlifting has a host of benefits. Including: increased bone density, increased strength, decreased risk of injury, better heart health, increased metabolism, improved glucose tolerance, reduction of blood pressure, and decreased body fat ((http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/resistben.html))
However, if you believe that weight-lifting is horrible and terrible and it is keeping you from being active…screw it, do what you actually like because just being active is significantly more important.
Proper programming? What the heck?
Proper programming simply means that you set your weight training to benefit your fitness goals. If you’re training for a marathon you’re not going to do heavy deadlifts the day before your race. You also wouldn’t go run 15 miles before a powerlifting meet. Similarly, you’re not going to train like a powerlifter if you want to lose weight. You’re not going to train like a marathoner if you want to look leaner.
How do I properly program?
I highly suggest hiring a personal trainer. That is his/her job; creating/designing work-out programs & goal mapping. This will give you safe & affective exercise for you and your goals, proper exercise (form) instruction, an increased sense of motivation & accountability, better sense of how to approach your goals, and someone to fall back on for support. If one-on-one sessions aren’t your cup of tea: group training. bonus: group training usually saves you money! If you don’t know if you can afford a trainer, ask about discounts! Most trainers offer online training for completely reasonable rates (typically $100-200 per month). In all honesty, many talented trainers put info out there for free. And, many gyms offer free/discount classes on lifting and tackling the weight room.
You don’t want a trainer? That’s fine also. You can totally create a program on your own with a little trial & error. You can also just snag one from one of many websites. (coming soon: a post on how to program for yourself)
The best type of exercise is one that trains you for your goals. That’s it, it’s that straightforward.