What’s the Best Exercise? Revealed!
So you’ve decided to lose weight! Or gain muscle! Or just get healthier! That’s GREAT!
But you might asking the first question that comes to mind when people think of such admirable goals: What’s the best exercise? And intuitively I think most people believe: there is no one best exercise. It depends on a bunch of factors. How fit you are, what you want to achieve, how much time you have, do you have access to a gym, equipment, coaches and so on.
Actually, if you’re just starting to exercise, or resuming after a long time, I think there IS an answer, and in this article, I’m going to tell you just that.
Watch the video here:
Everyone who wants to start exercise wants to know what’s the best type. That’s understandable! Exercise takes time and effort, and since we’ve all got 101 things to do, we want to get the biggest bang for the buck.
But that question is like asking – who was the best composer? Who’s the most beautiful girl? What’s the best tasting food? It’s a tough one asking for a sweeping answer.
Contrary to what you might expect however, I DO have an answer for you. But before that, let’s back up a bit and be up front. If your main goal is to lose weight, NUTRITION will account for 70 to 90% of your success. So go read my Nutrition After 40: 5 Principles for Success article first because I promise you that’s going to be far more important than any other article you’ll read here about exercise.
But once you’ve done that, we can get back to the exercise. Exercise gives you benefits you can’t get just by eating right. It promotes heart, bone, muscle and joint health… improves mental sharpness, balance, coordination, reflexes… Reduces risk for heart problems, diabetes and a bunch of other illnesses…. The list goes on.
But with so many systems and methods, how should you choose? Weights or cardio? Yoga or swimming? And what about things like HIT and Crossfit you read so much about?
Some experts recommend walking. It’s impact free, a natural movement, and can improve stamina by up to 20%. Others insist cardio is a waste of time, instead swearing by weights, promising this magical ‘afterburn’ effect that helps you continue to burn fat even after you’ve stopped exercise!
Here’s my simple answer.
The best exercise is the exercise that YOU WILL DO, CONSISTENTLY, SAFELY, AND HAPPILY.
You see it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. I could write you the best program, teach you the best exercises, but if YOU won’t do it, it’s USELESS. I can help you burn 1000kcal/ hr, but if you find it too hard, too boring, too troublesome, too unenjoyable, you WON’T stick with it. No consistency, no lifestyle change. No lifestyle change, no permanent results.
So choose any exercise that you think you’ll enjoy, safe of course, and just DO IT.
Here are 4 guidelines to help make that happen.
1. Think Movement and Activity, Not Exercise and Programmes!
Exercise programmes are convenient systems. They make us use our bodies the way our ancestors naturally did, squatting, walking, climbing, swimming, carrying heavy stuff. As long as we do something that challenges us to use our bodies, coordinate movement, balance, perform tasks, interact with our environment, we’re good!
As we move better, we feel better, and we look better as a natural consequence! So always be conscious of movement. How you’re moving, if you could move better, or find creative, exciting and fun ways to move!
2. 1 New + 2 Easy
Choose something cool to learn. Is dancing or archery or Muay Thai or yoga cool to you? That’s activity 1! Choose two easy activities. Can you brisk walk 30min? Think you’ll be able to walk four laps in a swimming pool? That’s Activities 2 and 3!
Then rotate them, doing one each on alternate days. So maybe Monday you do an inline skating lesson. Wednesday you brisk walk 30min with your husband or wife. Friday you meet a friend and wade 6 laps in the pool together while catching up.
3. Don’t Think Perfection, Get A Baseline
Forget guidelines at first. Even if it doesn’t meet the usual recommendations like 150min a week, or feels easier than the recommended intensity of 5 out of 10, and so on, don’t worry about it! Even if you look stupid or feel clumsy doing your chosen new interest, don’t worry about it!
In Life, it’s better to get a foothold, no matter how small, to get started. For now, establish a habit, and build consistency and enjoyment. ANYTHING that you’re doing right now, that you weren’t already doing before, is a great start! Once you’ve got that baseline, it’s easier to scale up when you feel ready. A bit faster, a bit longer, or a bit heavier.
4. No Pain, No Pain
Heard of no pain, no gain? Forget that bullshit!
As you exercise, I want you to check for two things regularly.
One: No Injury. If an exercise or activity gives you any pain, stop. If it aggravates any injury you already have, stop. Get it checked out by a doctor or physio. Or try another activity!
Two: No Torture! If you’re forcing yourself, through boredom, or great discomfort, stop it. Do something else!
If you get bored, or burnt out, or injured, you’ll stop! And then you’ll gain even more weight! That’s what happens when people force themselves to conform. Five years later they’re fatter and unhealthier than ever before. But if you build a baseline that encourages fun and consistency, you’re off to a great start, and you’ll continue for a long time to come!
Remember, GET yourself moving, then KEEP yourself moving. You’ll start reaping the benefits that exercise has to offer. Once you’ve done this consistently for 3 months, you’ll be in a great position to decide how else you might want to continue, but with a baseline fitness and the options that gives you that you didn’t have before!