A friend of mine sent me an article from the New York Times today titled, "What's the Single Best Exercise". It was very interesting, and peppered with different opinions from different experts, but something that struck me about this information is that many of us don't need to know what the best exercise is, we just need to exercise at something.
Knowing that more than half of our population does not participate in any exercise at all, finding the best one is interesting, but more importantly, we should make sure we are doing something, even if it is not the "best".
The "Butterfly" stroke in swimming was noted as one of the best exercises, as it "burns more calories, demands larger doses of oxygen, and elicits more fatigue than other activities". However, swimming every day is not a choice we all have, or want. This article is full of great information on different types of exercise, and cites studies that prove their effectiveness. It was published on April 15th, and I recommend reading it if you are interested in understanding how different types of exercise work on the body.
Finding the best exercise for you is more important than knowing what the most effective exercise is for all. Everyone is different in their needs, whether it is about time, location, body type, age, fitness level, and so on. As I have stated in the past, using a cross training program is a good way to avoid boredom and lesson the risk of injury. Also, finding an exercise that you enjoy is key to being consistent and sticking with it. No matter how effective the exercise is, if you don't like it, you won't continue it.
Some people use walking as their only form of exercise. This is a great way to get your exercise in, and the fact that it might be the only way that you exercise is perfectly fine. You are at least moving your body, getting some fresh air, and being consistent in exercising.
Another form of exercise that was noted in the article as being one of the best was running up stairs. If you have a stair case in your home, you have a built in gym! Run up and down your stairs several times a day, and you will be doing one of the best exercises there is according to the experts in this article. I have done stadiums steps at a local college for years, and I know they are effective. It definitely is a powerful way to exercise, and you don't have to do a lot of them to get results.
Bike riding is another way to be effective while exercising. This is my favorite way to exercise. Cycling brings out the "kid" in you, and it also burns a higher amount of calories than many other types of exercise. Peddling at 10 miles an hour will burn an average of 500 calories in a 60 minute ride, and it is a whole lot of fun. Riding at a higher speed will obviously raise that caloric burn.
We are experiencing an epidemic of obesity in our country today. Everyone should be doing some form of exercise a minimum of five days a week if we are to turn this situation around. Of course the main source of our obesity is not just the lack of exercise, but exists in the type of foods that people are choosing to eat. You can go back into the archives of this blog and find article, after article about this problem of processed foods, junk foods, fast foods, white flour, and white sugar foods, which are the culprits of why over 65% of our population is over weight or obese. Adding in exercise is vital for your health, but choosing a diet that is mainly from natures foods, and avoiding processed foods is paramount to having quality health.
So find a form of exercise that you enjoy and that you can be consistent with. Couple that with a diet rich in fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, lean sources of protein, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. Practice portion control. Stay away from processed foods, junk foods, fast foods, white flour and white sugar products. This is the recipe for optimal health. There is no short cut, or magic pill that will ever take the place of participating in a daily exercise routine and eating a healthy diet. If you want to be healthy, feel and look your best, it will take exercise and a healthy diet to get there.