I floated this query out to both my personal Facebook friends and to the fans of our fitness studio page this week:
"My favorite form of exercise is ____________ because _________."
Here's how they responded:
"My favorite form of exercise is cycling because on a bicycle, you are enjoying the great outdoors, and getting the same wonderful perspective as a pedestrian (as opposed to an automobile operator, who just sees everything out the window, flying by), yet you can cover a lot more territory in a single outing on bike than while on foot."
“I like the Tabata format of your TVT classes. Each station is only a few minutes long. It's easy to give your all when you can say 'this is only for two minutes!' It's fun and an awesome calorie burn.”
“My favorite form of exercise is martial arts because when I reach that kind of sweat, I get high as a kite, and it keeps my migraines away... Win/Win.”
“Walking because I can do it anywhere, anytime.”
“Swimming because it's relaxing.”
“Silks because it gives me a high and my body and soul are in complete bliss.”
“Boxing because it burns tons of calories AND I feel bad***!”
“Walking because I see all my neighbors.”
“Swimming...because it is meditative and effective.”
“Yoga because it works all areas and releases stress.”
“Running/jogging because it’s one of the few moments of time I focus on my heartbeat and my breath.”
There are scores of lists on the web that reflect similar choices and a recent fitness trade magazine that covered this topic also highlighted most of the same activities.
From a training perspective, we look at four basic components of conditioning:
1. Cardiodvascular conditioning (stamina, heart and lung health)
4. Core stability
These form the foundation of comprehensive fitness. So, it's important to introduce elements of each into your program as they enhance and complement each other. The feedback above doesn't mention strength training, but I've found an increasing number of people who, although they may not love it, recognize its importance and include it a couple of times each week.
By far the most opportunity to improve the balance of most peoples workouts is to step up the core and flexibility aspects of their program. The recent increase in popularity of both Yoga and Pilates is because of their focus on these areas. People who add these practices to their routines feel a huge improvement in their mobility and functional capacity (the ease with which you do normal daily tasks).
But in the end, finding some aspect of enjoyment and a sense of achievement or improvement are the keys to long-term adherance.
Learn more about the wide landscape of fitness and wellness options and what might be best for you at this upcoming multi-disciplinary wellness fair on January 5th.
And take care of yourself in 2013!
Dan is a nationally certified personal fitness trainer and former continuing education faculty member of the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. He is the owner and head trainer at Tri Valley Trainer in Pleasanton, which provides personal training, small group fitness and nutrition guidance. He can be reached at Dan@TriValleyTrainer.com