You want to know the hard truth?
For optimal health, especially with a hedonistic lifestyle, you need to pay attention to 3 things; diet, exercise and sleep. This cannot be avoided. I think the easiest things to change is diet and sleep first, but you eventually have to come up with an exercise program as well. The problem is there are soooooo many options out there and it can be quite confusing. I will break down the basic options below, but before that you need to consider the following things:
- your current activity levels (that step tracker would come in handy)
- your actual physical fitness levels and body composition
- your medical history (for safety reasons)
- your interests and goals when it comes to exercise
Once you have a better idea of these things, and are able to align them, the choice of exercise becomes much much easier. Let's get to it then.
The choice of millions of people world wide as their preferred exercise option. This includes brisk walking, jogging, running, swimming and many more. I think this is the easiest on to get started on. Let's go with pros and cons:
- easy to get started, just leave the house and move
- low investment, only need some shoes. (or not)
- easy to set an intensity level, from brisk walk to running
- low impact options like swimming may be more suitable for overweight people
- good for the heart and cardiovascular system - part of a complete workout
- hard to burn enough calories to move the needle (around 250 per 1/2 hour depending on activity and intensity level)
- may require significant time to produce results (actually all exercise does)
- High impact nature of most cardio training may aggravate joint injuries
Who its good for:
Everyone! You just need to select appropriate activities and intensity levels. Even me. I hate doing cardio.
2. Resistance(weight) training
This is another popular choice. Strength training or weight lifting is very beneficial. It's good for your bones, muscles, body composition, looks and let's face it ego. There are many programs out there so just choose one that's right for you. If you don't know what's right for you a personal trainer can help, even if it's only for a few sessions. You need to lift regularly to see any results. Religiously. More on that in a future post.
- can see dramatic results with the right dedication and training
- promotes bone and muscle development
- helps increase metabolism
- promotes self esteem
- joining a gym is expensive
- generally low calorie burn but has many other benefits
- with many options it is often confusing
- need to be dedicated to see results
Who it's good for?
Anyone who is willing to absorb the expense. I love weight training.
3. High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT
This choice is gaining popularity. As it is extremely high intensity, it is not for everyone. I think it is best to use HIIT on days when you cannot complete your regular workout due to time or location restraints. It involves body weight exercises with on the spot cardio that really gets your heart pumping. A 10 minute session is exhausting. I personally use it when I don't have access to my regular activities. I like to use an app for that.
- can be done anywhere with no specialized equipment
- it can be done in a short period of time, as little as 10 minutes
- combines strength, cardio and even some flexibility
- revs up your metabolism to burn more calories over time
- very high impact
- not ideal for overweight or people with previous injury
Who its good for;
People with some degree of physical fitness. You can start out with low impact cardio, then slowly add HIIT to your activities. Prepare to pant and sweat!
4. Flexibility/Strength Training
By this I refer to things like yoga, pilates, and tai chi. These activities promote strength, flexibility and most importantly relaxation. After all we are all stressed out, no? By choosing different types of yoga or intensity of pilates it is possible to get a really good workout if you do this regularly.
- generally low impact
- promotes many health benefits
- can be expensive to take classes
- needs to be done at least 3 times a week to really see benefits
Who its good for:
Anyone who want to relax and work on their strength and flexibility, yoga is much much tougher than it looks. Trust me. Also popular among women and older people.
5. Take up a sport
This is an easy one. Pick up a sport you enjoy and reap the benefits of regular physical activity. Depending on the sport it can combine cardio, strength, HIIT and flexibility. I personally do Muay Thai.
- it's fun
- depending on the sport, can reap multiple benefits
- easy to stick to (see fun)
- depending on the activity, equipment costs can be high
- location and proximity to your residence may be an issue because of travel time
- most sports are better when practised in a group, so schedule coordination can be tough
Who its good for:
Anyone who dreads going for a jog or the gym, and would rather do something fun with added health benefits. I also think you need to have a keen interest in the sport you choose to pursue.
So you see there are many choices. The important thing is to choose one and get started. Want to weight lift? Join a gym. Want to relax? Take up yoga. Short on time? Do HIIT at home. Always wanted to learn a sport? Just get it done.
Have anything to add? I would love to hear from you. Hit me up on social media or comment below!