Being fit and healthy is the key to living a life you love.
Exercise of any kind is necessary for a healthy body and mind. People have used exercises as a tool to lose weight, stay healthy, or simply a rule in their daily routine. The benefits of regular exercise help reduce your risk of heart disease, helps your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels, strengthens bones and muscles, improves sleep patterns, and helps add longevity to your life span. That said, experts agree that not all exercises are created equal. Some are simply more efficient than others, whether they target multiple muscle groups, are suitable for a wide variety of fitness levels, or help you burn calories more effectively. So what are the best exercises to help you achieve and maintain your fitness and health goals?
Here are some simple exercises you can do to stay fit and keep your body healthy.
Cardio, also called aerobic exercise, is any form of movement that gets your heart rate up, your blood pumping and your lungs working. It activates and strengthens your cardiovascular system, but also improves the health of your whole body and mind. Cardio can lower stress, improve sleep and flood your brain with those feel-good endorphins. It’s also an excellent tool when it comes to weight loss.
Cardio can be the most easily accessible form of exercise – and the simplest. A brisk walk or yard work can count as cardio, as long as you start to get hot, sweaty and out of breath.
Walking and hiking
Walking is one of the best cardio exercises out there because it can be done almost anywhere and with little equipment. All you need is a pair of comfortable, sturdy shoes. If you’re just starting out, walk 5-10 minutes per day and work your way up to 30 minutes or more per day. Regular walking can help you lose weight, prevent disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your mood. Hiking allows you to explore and enjoy nature, and often burns more calories than walking by involving steeper, more uneven paths. Plus, research shows just being outside can offer a range of health benefits.
Like walking, you just need a pair of well-fitting shoes to start running. No matter where you run or how fast you go, regular runs can improve your cardiovascular health, your bones and muscles, and your mental health.
Cycling is a great way to target and strengthen your lower body while working your heart and lungs. And the task of staying upright on a bicycle, stationary or not, helps your balance and posture. Riding a bike is also a great alternative to one of our most popular sedentary activities: driving. The next time you have somewhere to go – the grocery store, a friend’s house, the post office – try riding your bike instead.
When you swim, you get all the cardiovascular benefits of aerobic exercises, with none of the impact. Working out in the water gives your joints a break while still strengthening muscles throughout your body. And you can burn calories without all the sweat.
Nothing gets the heart pumping like jumping rope. It’s an incredibly efficient cardiovascular workout that you can squeeze into any busy schedule. You can get all the heart healthy benefits you need from just 10-15 minutes of jumping rope. And it’s fun!
Body weight exercises
When you’re getting started with strength training, exercises that use only your body weight are usually enough for you to start getting stronger. Pushups, planks, squats, lunges and burpees are all great options. Doing these exercises without additional weight also allows you to practice and perfect proper form, which is essential for preventing injuries in the future.
Stretching increases and maintains your flexibility, or your body’s ability to move in different ways without injury. Stretching regularly can help you perform better physically, use your full range of motion and avoid injuries. The best time to stretch is after a workout, when your muscles are warmed up from movement, but you can still benefit from stretching at any time.
Keeping your balance is an essential skill in multiple sports and daily activities, and it only gets more important as you get older. Working on your balance now can help you prevent falls later in life and avoid the injuries that often come with them. Better sleep, better mood, better flexibility – yoga has a lot of benefits. A huge part of any yoga practice is balance. Yoga challenges your body to maintain balance as it flows through dynamic poses and maintains different positions. In doing so, you release tight muscles and strengthen those essential stabilizer muscles, both of which lower your risk of falling.