I just wanted to include one last post on exercise before we move on to September’s Challenge… the Kindness Challenge! I mentioned that I was going to explore some of the more popular workouts out there and wanted to make sure I fit it in before we changed gears. This post is to explore some pros and cons of a few workouts to see which may be best for you and which you may want to avoid. The general benefits of exercise include reduced stress levels, reduced risk of depression, increase in overall brain function, increased confidence, and reduced risk of disease to name a few. However, each form of exercise has its own unique benefits for your body as well. I tried to include a variety of exercises that cover each of the components of fitness. Overall, I hope this overview helps you to find new exercises that may be right for you so you can have a variety of exercises in your workout regimen that you enjoy and bring you the maximum health benefits possible!
Walking: This is a tried and true exercise. Some consider it to not even be a workout because they aren’t sweating and sore, but when we explore it, you’ll find there are several benefits!
- Pros: Walking is low-impact, so the risk of injury is low. This means it is an exercise that you can enjoy for years to come! It also tends to pull its calories from fat stores. Additionally, it is inexpensive and versatile because you can walk anywhere! It is considered cardiovascular and muscular endurance workout, so it improves your heart health and ability to perform everyday activities.
- Cons: Walking does not improve muscular strength and is not the best form of cardiovascular endurance because your heart doesn’t work as hard as it does with a more intense form of cardio. It also takes a longer time than its cardio counterparts to burn calories because of its low intensity. However, walking a mile and running a mile usually burns about the same amount of calories, running just takes significantly less time.
Running: Running has a very good reputation when it comes to exercise. Some consider it the holy grail of fitness. Let’s look a little more in depth to see if it’s right for you.
- Pros: Running greatly improves cardiovascular and muscular endurance. It also is very versatile and inexpensive, as you don’t need a gym membership to run. It also burns a lot of calories for the time put in. Because of the pounding on your joints, it can actually prevent osteoporosis as well because it encourages bone growth and density.
- Cons: The pounding of running can also cause injury. It does burn calories rather efficiently, but does not have the benefit of being a muscular strength workout so does not provide a huge metabolic boost. A person’s form, fitness levels, and supporting workouts are all key to making running work. If one of these is not right, injury will occur. In addition, running can also become boring for some because of the repetitive movement (especially on a treadmill!- I recommend Netflix and music!)!
Biking: Biking is a workout that can be a lifetime activity. How does it stack up to other cardio workouts?
- Pros: Biking is a great cardiovascular and muscular endurance workout. It can be easy for those with past injury, for the young, or for the aging. It is an activity that has great longevity. It also is relatively inexpensive and offers versatility for where and when you can workout.
- Cons: Biking can be too easy unless you push speed or go up hills. It can also cause knee injuries because of the stress the movement puts on your knee joints. Biking in a more populous area can also lead to the concern of traffic and unruly drivers. Additionally, biking is not an activity that encourages bone density or growth, so it is not an exercise that prevents osteoporosis or general bone frailty.
Swimming: Swimming is a workout that is like no other. It offers many benefits, but it can also be a bother to get so wet! Here are some specifics:
- Pros: Swimming is one of the best exercises out there for overall health. It is very low-impact on your joints for starters, so it offers longevity as well as general injury-free workouts. It also provides great cardiovascular and muscular endurance benefits. Because of the variety of strokes, it has the benefit of providing a more well-rounded workout compared to its repetitive cardio counterparts. Overall, swimming is one of the most recommended exercises out there.
- Cons: Most of us do not have a lap pool in our backyard, so it usually involves a recurring membership fee to a gym or pool. Swimming also comes with the whole swimsuit wearing conundrum that some of us would rather avoid. Additionally, there is the smell of chlorine and how hard it can be on your hair and skin. There is also a chance of shoulder injury from overuse, but this is usually just a problem when your swim time is increased too quickly or swimming is done too often in your exercise regimen without supporting exercises (such as weight lifting) to strengthen your supporting muscles.
Weight Lifting: Weight lifting is gaining popularity for younger generations, but some in the older generations are still a bit wary…. Let’s see what it’s all about.
- Pros: Weight lifting improves muscular strength. It also encourages metabolic health because more muscle means more fat being burned at a resting state. In addition, lifting improves muscle tone and general strength for performing daily tasks. Because of its impact on joints, it also encourages bone growth and density, so is recommended for bone health and osteoporosis prevention.
- Cons: Lifting weights does require a purchase of some sort to get weights in your home or a gym membership. It also requires knowledge of the technique to use when performing different lifts as well as the amount of repetitions and sets you should lift weights in order to provide you with the results you are aiming for. It can lead to injury if done incorrectly or too frequently, but can be ineffective if done too infrequently or with too light of weights.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training): HIIT is also gaining popularity. It is very versatile and beneficial… let’s take a look at it:
- Pros: HIIT is a mixture of high intensity movements (ex: jump rope or burpees) mixed with lower intensity movements (ex: body weight squats, bicep curls) with little rest. It provides an all-encompassing workout, as it improves cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, and muscular strength. It also aids in a healthy metabolism and burns a lot of calories in the time you perform it. It is versatile in that you can do a form of HIIT almost anywhere because you can include body weight exercises that require little to no equipment and little space. It also can be adapted to many different fitness levels and be included as a part of your regimen even later in life. Because of its high intensity, the time spent on your workout is relatively short for those with a busy schedule.
- Cons: HIIT is high intensity, so that means that it can be tougher on the body if it isn’t eased into at a gradual rate. Those who have not been exercising regularly need to take it slow for starters and may even want to get their doctor’s okay first. It also requires knowledge of exercises to perform. HIIT can include equipment as well, or at least, the knowledge of how to correctly perform the body weight exercises. It can lead to injury if the movements are not performed correctly.
CrossFit: CrossFit is a mix of HIIT and weight lifting, so it is amazing for encouraging muscle growth and metabolic health. It is quite the fad right now. There are communities around it and even competitions on tv. What is it all about?
- Pros: CrossFit is a great workout. There is no doubt about it. It is great for mental toughness as well because of the requirement to push yourself to your own limits each day. There are CrossFit coaches that can help with technique, so it takes this element of injury prevention into consideration. There is usually a great sense of community, as CrossFitters usually belong to a CrossFit-specific gym with regular members. I’ve heard it said that CrossFit is a great atmosphere for former athletes looking to push themselves and those around them. They also have awesome competitions that seem to have a very positive and uplifting feel. Muscular strength and endurance and even cardiovascular endurance at times are improved.
- Cons: CrossFit gym memberships are expensive. You can do CrossFit on your own at home, but a lot of the workouts require equipment, making the purchase of this equipment expensive as well (plus you’d miss out on the community feel). CrossFit does not necessarily have a whole lot of rhyme or reason to its workouts, so certain muscles may get an intense workout more than others and the balance is not always precise. There is also a greater risk for injury because of this, but each CrossFit gym has its own coach(es), so I can’t speak to each one. Because workouts are for everyone there, each person is to do the workout at their own pace and push themselves to do their best. However, it can be rather impersonal as far as taking certain strengths and weaknesses into consideration and building weaker aspects before diving into an intense workout day after day.
Yoga: Yoga has its own following and can be for the meditative, but can also benefit those just looking for low-impact workout.
- Pros: Yoga is very versatile exercise, as each workout can provide anything from stretches to increase flexibility to intense holds that build muscular strength and endurance. Yoga is low-impact and can be adapted for any ability as well, giving it great longevity. It is one of the best stress-relieving workouts out there, as it encourages deep breathing, a soothing environment, and each movement and breath is very deliberate. There are also a number of free yoga sessions on YouTube and elsewhere, so it is very inexpensive and versatile.
- Cons: Yoga is not usually not considered a cardiovascular endurance workout, but there are some yoga workouts that can really get your heart rate up at times and make you sweat. If you like quicker movements and the feel of other workouts, it will take some getting used to. Yoga can also be expensive if you need to join a gym or yoga studio. At first, it can be frustrating to find the right yoga workouts for the results you are trying to get. Additionally, if you are inflexible, it may be frustrating to not be able to perform some of the movements, and it does take time to gradually increase your flexibility. Doing a pose incorrectly or stretching a muscle too far can lead to injury as well. However, after doing yoga for awhile, most of these cons right themselves.
Overall, these workouts are just a sampling of the workouts available. Because of their popularity, I just wanted to give you a bit more insight on each of these in case you want to add it to your routine. I encourage you to not just stick to one type of exercise, but include a variety of these and other exercises in your routine for a balanced workout. It will not only give you balanced fitness, but will give you the maximum health benefits possible and keep you engaged by changing up your workout each day.
Take a look at my past posts on the Components of Fitness and the Principles of Fitness for more info on how to get started with a well-balanced exercise regimen. You can also let me know if you’d like assistance forming an exercise plan that is right for you! I am helping out a limited number family, friends, and followers for free right now as I build my business and community and gain experience. I am offering assistance utilizing a holistic health approach for exercise plans, nutrition plans, and weight loss. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you have been doing the Exercise Challenge with me this month, keep going! You are still making exercise a more permanent habit in your life. Remember, the goal of the Challenge is to not just workout for a month, but to begin forming a lifelong healthy habit of exercise in your life!
I hope you’ll join me for the Kindness Challenge… It’s switching gears from our physical health and diving into our social health dimension! You can join the Facebook Kindness Challenge Event if you’d like. If you are interested in where I got the idea for challenges or want to venture out on your own and try a different challenge, clink on the links for more info!
Next Up: The Kindness Challenge Kick-Off! and A Holistic Approach to Weight Loss: How Our Surroundings Affect Our Choices
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“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi