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What's the Best Exercise?

Por Eleazar Lara-Pantin, MD, MSc* -

A frequently asked question about exercise is: "What's the best exercise for me?"

Describing one specific exercise as "the best" is useful when you have a specific goal in mind, such as toning your upper body, increasing muscle mass or rehabilitating muscles after knee injury. However, if you are interested in choosing a particular exercise to increase and maintain an optimal level of physical activity, instead of worrying about which exercise is the best, focus on what type of exercise you enjoy and are capable of doing on a regular basis.

It's a lot easier, and much more useful, to figure out what type of exercise you want to participate in.  Begin by thinking about what your preferences, time and resources are. If you are looking for exercise to complement a balanced diet, then walking, going to a gym, or riding a stationary bicycle are all good choices. Try to focus on making practical choices versus  choosing activities based on the amount of calories you will burn.  Will you be able to incorporate the activity you choose into your lifestyle? The activity should be one you enjoy, not only because you feel good doing it, but also because of the benefits you'll gain by doing it on a regular basis. An added bonus is that regular exercise allows you to be less restrictive with what you eat.

We can't stress enough that physical activity is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. You need to stay active so you can preserve your body's strength and mobility. Being physically active also enhances your ability to keep your organs and body systems functioning properly. Moreover, staying active reduces your risk of suffering from obesity-related diseases.

When your ultimate goal is to reach and maintain adequate levels of physical activity, you should set small goals that will help you achieve that final goal. For instance, focus on the little things first, such as parking the car a little bit farther away, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle at the workplace.  These small changes will help you boost your levels of physical activity and allow you to lead a healthier lifestyle.

*Dr. Lara-Pantin, a nutrition specialist, is Vice President of Product Development for DrTango .


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