What is the “Right” Kind of Exercise?

It can be confusing to navigate the fitness world, whether you are just embarking upon regular exercise for the first time, or have been an athlete your whole life. Lots of people have strong opinions about exercises you should always do or never do, and some of them have research or experience to back those opinions. Then there are lots of ideas (some of them myths, some with legitimate concerns) out there about certain types of exercises being bad for you. On top of that, social media is full of so-called experts on fitness, and so many of them can’t seem to agree on what is the best type of exercise for you, even though they are all claiming to be exercise professionals who specialize in fitness. This can be frustrating, especially when you want to exercise, but you want to do it wisely and you want to do what is good for your body.

Well, good news: I’m here to give you all the answers and tell you exactly what to do. The ultimate, perfect, best exercise routine for you is….drum roll, please…. the best exercise routine for you. Wait. That wasn’t helpful. Or was it?

What I just said was that the best exercise routine is the one that is tailored to you. The one you like. The one you’ll stick with. The one that fits you. So, you may like walking and hiking four to five days a week, and your best friend may love hitting the gym every night after work and lifting weights. Your cousin swims three times a week and bikes on the weekends, and your mother-in-law prefers yoga. I’m happy to say that you are all doing it right because you’ve all found a routine that you can stick to, that is consistent, and that makes you happy.

But I realize some of you may want more specifics than that. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and CDC guidelines for physical fitness can be a good place to start. ACSM and CDC recommend that normal healthy adults get “150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week” and perform “muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.” That is a great place to start if you are looking to build an exercise routine. But what if you don’t always have time to do that every week? Fear not! You can start incorporating bits of exercise into your daily routine, in 2, 5, or 10-minute increments. Maybe you’re waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning before you head off to work. Do 20 calf raises and 4 countertop push-ups. Congratulations! You just exercised.

Another helpful way to figure out the best exercise for you is to start with what you enjoy. Maybe you really like hiking because you go with a hiking group, and the social aspect is really fun for you. That’s excellent and worth continuing. But maybe you’ve decided you also want to incorporate some of those “muscle-strengthening activities” that the ACSM suggests, but you find going to the gym boring. Here’s an idea – sign up for a weight-training class, where you can exercise with several other people at the same time. Maybe you’ll have so much fun socializing, you’ll forget to be bored. Or, maybe you did cross-country in high school because it seemed like a good idea, but you never actually liked running. Now you are older, and you want to get back to exercise, but you still hate running. Good news – walking is good for your health too! Or, if you want more interesting or more intense aerobic activities, consider dance classes, Zumba, or other cardio activities that never require you to run. Now you’re having fun and you’re getting fit.

What if you have an injury that has derailed your fitness routine? It’s the worst, I know, but it happens. Your physical therapist can help you heal from your injury, but do you know what else your physical therapist loves to do? Helping you meet your meaningful goals! So, if you want to get back to exercising, and you don’t want your pain to stop you, talk to your physical therapist about creative ways to tweak your exercise routine, for now, to keep you moving (and enjoying it!) until you can get back to what you love!

If you need help with recovering from an injury and getting back to the activity that you love, reach out to your local Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy clinic today. Schedule a free consultation to determine if physical therapy is right for you or if you just need some tips and tricks to get you there. Click Here to Schedule

Resources: https://www.acsm.org/education-resources/trending-topics-resources/physical-activity-guidelines

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Sarah Johnson, DPT