With all the different types of exercises out there, which one is best? Infomercials all claim to be the best, to work every muscle, to get you in perfect shape…well, which workout reigns supreme? Below is a list of exercises that some experts believe to be “The Best”. One thing they all agree on is that some form of exercise everyday can greatly increase your overall health and reduce a plethora of ailments as we age. The best exercise is the….
One of the most taxing movements in sports, the butterfly requires more energy than playing competitive basketball, running a ten minute mile, bicycling at 14 mph or carrying furniture upstairs. It burns more calories, demands larger doses of oxygen and elicits more fatigue than those other activities, meaning that over time it should increase a swimmer’s endurance and contribute to weight control. So is it the best? Well, no, because the butterfly is miserable to do! Plus you need a coach, a pool, weight and flexibility training to reduce the high risk of injury.
Good old fashioned calisthenics, the Burpee. In which you drop to the ground in a pushup position, pull your feet back up and jump in the air as high as you can then repeat. It is absolutely a great exercise and works your entire body along with getting your heart rate up. It builds endurance and muscle, but they do get old fast, and you’ll probably get bored.
Researchers show that walking can aid in weight control. A 15-year study found that middle-aged women who walked for at least an hour a day maintained their weight over the decades. Those who didn’t gained weight. In addition, a recent seminal study found that when older people started a regular program of brisk walking, the volume of their hippocampus, a portion of the brain involved in memory, increased significantly. Walking is great if you keep at it! Set goals to walk faster and longer to keep challenging your body. Walking can get boring as well though. Plus, you’re not really building muscle.
The squat “activates the body’s biggest muscles, those in the buttocks, back and legs.” It’s simple, “just bend your knees and lower your trunk until your thighs are about parallel with the floor. Do that 25 times. It’s a very potent exercise. Use a barbell once the body-weight squats grow easy.” Says Stuart Phillips, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University and an expert on the effects of resistance training on the human body.
Resistance training is good for weight control, It also has been found to lower the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and improve cardiovascular fitness. But a squats-only routine is super boring!
OK, Is there a single activity that has proved to be, more strenuous than walking while building power like the squat? Not impossible like the butterfly or as tedious as the burpee?
What about High-intensity Interval training (H.I.T.)?
H.I.T. Is a type of cardio training in which you alternate short, very high intensity intervals with longer, slower intervals to recover.
In an experiment done by Martin Gibala, PHD professor in kinesiology, using specialized stationary bicycles. He had riders complete 30 seconds of the highest intensity the rider could stand, and then rest for four minutes, they did this several times, for a total of 2 -3 minutes of extremely intense exercise. After the two week study, the H.I.T. Riders, with less than 20 minutes of hard effort behind them, had increased their aerobic capacity as much as the riders who had pedaled leisurely for more than 10 hours. Pretty impressive isn’t it? In his newest study, you sprint for 60 seconds at a pace that feels unpleasant but sustainable, followed by 60 seconds of pedaling easily, then another 60-second sprint and recovery, 10 times in all.
Of course, to be effective, H.I.T. must hurt. You have to really push yourself during that “On” time to get results. Also, since you work out for less time, you have the tendency to not get as bored.
So what is wrong with it? The only glaring inadequacy of H.I.T. is that it builds muscular strength less effectively than, say, the squat. But even that can be partially remedied, Gibala said: “Sprinting up stairs is a power workout and interval session simultaneously.” Meaning that running up steps just might be the single best exercise of all.
You want to know the real best form of exercise?
It’s the one you love. It’s the one you are motivated to do regularly and train hard at. It’s the one you want to keep improving at. That one is best.
Timothy Church, M.D., who holds the John S. McIlhenny endowed chair in health wisdom at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. A recent meta-analysis of studies about exercise and mortality showed that, in general, a sedentary person’s risk of dying prematurely from any cause, plummeted by nearly 20 percent if he or she began brisk walking (or the equivalent) for 30 minutes five times a week. If he or she tripled that amount, for instance, to 90 minutes of exercise four or five times a week, his or her risk of premature death dropped by only another 4 percent. So the one indisputable aspect of the single best exercise is that it be sustainable.
Now that is something to get off the couch for.
Sources: www.mcmaster.ca/kinesiology , nytimes