Which Exercises Are Best For Your Body
Being adventurous about trying new fitness trends is a great way to prevent boredom and overcome certain performance plateaus. But it can be risky. The fitness community is not well-regulated and, in some instances, individuals lacking knowledge of physiology have created fitness options that are not effective and possibly unsafe.
Let’s look at a few of the most popular fitness trends and sort myth from fact.
Trend 1: Flexibility
Guidelines for flexibility have changed drastically within the last few years. Static stretching before starting exercise is no longer recommended for the general exerciser. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, your best bet is to stretch either after exercise or independent of it.
What about Warm-Ups?
Any active person should do at least five minutes of cardiovascular exercise of low-to-moderate intensity to reduce the risk of injury. If you are already suffering from an injury, your therapist may give you specific stretches to perform prior to, after or separate from exercise.
If you’re interested in higher-level flexibility, consider yoga. Most forms of yoga are safe and effective if done properly. Be aware, though, that certain classes pose more risks than others.
Trend 2: Strength
Resistance exercise has undergone a revolution as well. Functional strength training is replacing the tried-and-true methods of weight training. Incorporating balance, agility or exercises that challenge coordination into strength training routines may allow the body to respond better both in daily living and in sport-specific situations.
Examples of trends in strength training include the following:
- Stability ball
- Half-ball (such as the BOSU©)
- Kettle bells
- High-frequency-vibration equipment
If you’re not interested in purchasing strength equipment, try performing bicep curls, lateral raises and upright rows while standing on one foot. This technique often can provide similar benefits.
Trend 3: Cardiovascular Exercise
The most common trend in cardiovascular exercise involves monitoring the heart rate and focusing on training intensity. The reliability of heart-rate monitors on exercise equipment is questionable, so using an actual heart-rate monitor that straps around the chest and includes a watch to provide feedback can be helpful. This equipment ranges from the very basic, which displays only the heart rate itself, to the extremely complex, which incorporates a global positioning system. What you choose depends on your needs and performance level.
Trend 4: Classes
Not since the aerobics craze in the ‘80s have exercise classes been so popular. Below are a few examples of the latest exercise classes:
- Spinning classes
- Pool classes
- "Cardio boot camp"
- "Piloga" (a combination of Pilates and yoga) classes
- Ballroom dancing
Be cautious about the suggested benefit of a class. In most cases, you are likely to gain some benefit, but it may not be the benefit you are looking for. Contact an exercise physiologist or a health or fitness professional if you have questions about the benefits of a particular fitness class.