A healthy outside starts from the inside.
Our bodies need exercise to function properly and feel good, but what is the best type to achieve optimal health? The answer is not that simple. Since the human body is a complex system, it requires a variety of exercises.
Through research and practice, I have developed a whole-body exercise program. My approach includes a mix of aerobic training, strength training, core training, and stretching. Scheduling time each week for all four of these areas helps me stay dedicated to daily physical fitness.
The following ideas for better exercise have helped me reach my fitness goals.
Aerobic training strengthens the cardiovascular system (heart, lungs, arteries, and veins). This is when I focus on getting my body moving. A good way to avoid training “too hard, too soon” is to find activities you enjoy. Then try doing those activities at an easier pace and for longer periods of time.
Strength training benefits the muscular and skeletal systems, and it is also good for hormone health1. Some strength training exercises include weight lifting, push-ups, and lunges. I have found that trying to lift too much can lead to bad form, which is ineffective and dangerous. Instead, I lift lighter weights for more repetitions2. I also put a lot of effort into developing perfect technique with a full range of motion on each lift.
Core training supports the muscular and nervous systems, and is an important element to spinal health3. A strong core requires consistent exercise of the stomach, side, and back muscles… not just the front “abs” you see on the cover of fitness magazines. A few core exercises I focus on are leg raises (also known as boat or navasana in yoga), side plank, and “Superman”. Developing a stronger core has helped me look and feel better than ever.
Stretching increases the blood flow and supply of nutrients to muscles and cartilage4. Men’s Health warns that a lack of flexibility inhibits your body’s ability to build muscle5. When I first read this, I could not touch my toes. After adding this three-minute stretching routine to my workouts, I was touching my toes and feeling great. The biggest mistake I have overcome with stretching is not giving it the time and priority it deserves.
If you are new to exercising, start slowly. Be careful and take your time getting into shape. Begin a walking program, and then add more distance over time. Meet with your doctor or a fitness instructor about including different exercises in each of the four areas outlined above.
As you gain strength and flexibility, you will be able to challenge yourself. Getting in shape and staying fit for life is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time, have fun, and add in variety gradually. You just may discover how good your body is designed to feel!
Image via Death to the Stock Photo