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What type of exercise is best for your body?
That’s a question a lot of people ponder… especially since we’re all so strapped for time and want to get the most from each minute we exercise.
Is running the best? Strength training? Yoga? What will really help you shed fat, build muscle, lower your blood sugar and live your best life?
Well, the truth is, any exercise you are willing to do and do regularly is the best exercise… because some exercise is always better than none.
But if you really want to break it down by which exercise offers the best benefits, the answer is all of them… and none of them. What I mean by that is, there is no single best type of exercise.
The best exercise is a combination of them all…
Mix it up for more benefits
A study from researchers at Skidmore College in New York found that the people who get the most from their workouts choose variety over uniformity…
In the study, researchers asked out-of-shape people to either stay sedentary, do resistance training four times per week or follow a multidimensional program that included resistance exercise, interval sprint exercise, yoga stretches and endurance exercise.
Guess who came out on top?
It obviously wasn’t the sedentary people. But the people that only did resistance training didn’t do the best either.
People who did a combination of resistance exercise, interval sprint exercise, yoga stretches and endurance exercise, however, ended up losing the most weight, shedding the most belly fat, trimming the most inches off the waistline, lowering blood sugar to the healthiest levels and gained the most lean body mass.
Since both exercising groups in the study committed to the same amount of time to working out, researchers made an important realization…
When it comes to exercise, quality counts more than quantity.
“It’s not about simply doing more exercise,” says Skidmore College exercise scientist and study author Paul Arciero. “It’s about doing the appropriate range of exercises and activities that most effectively promote health and fitness. It’s very difficult to just lift weights, or only do the treadmill or the elliptical machine and be healthy. Your exercise regimen needs to encompass as much of what makes you a fully integrated living person as possible.”
Making an exercise plan
So how should you structure your weekly workouts if you want a well-rounded set of benefits?
Well, make sure they include some resistance exercise, cardio workouts, interval training and stretching.
Figure out how to squeeze those exercise approaches in the best you can. That could mean doing:
- Cardio five days per week
- Incorporating interval training into three of your five cardio sessions
- Strength training two to three times per week
- Stretching two to three times per week
The American College of Sports Medicine says it’s important to do exercise that improves balance and coordination too, so you might want to throw some yoga, Pilates or tai chi into the mix each week.
I know it sounds hard to squeeze in all of those different types of exercise, but there are in-person exercise classes, videos and online programs that offer single workouts that include cardio, strength, training, interval training and stretching in one neat little package.
Personally, I do a program called DailyBurn, which offers 30 minute exercise videos every day. Signing up is one of the best things I’ve ever done, because it saves me the hassle of figuring out a daily exercise routine that includes cardio, strength training or interval training all on my own.
And just so you know, besides mixing up their exercise routines regularly, people in the study also ate a steady amount of protein (60 grams of whey protein total per day)… so don’t forget your protein if you want to build strength, stamina and get the most from your workouts.
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- When it comes to exercise, quality trumps quantity — MedicalXpress. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
- Quality, not quantity, counts most in exercise, diet — ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
- J. Aciero, et al. “Timed-daily ingestion of whey protein and exercise training reduces visceral adipose tissue mass and improves insulin resistance: the PRISE study.” Journal of Applied Physiology July 2014 117(1): 1-10.