How to choose the best exercise for you [2 truths and a lie]

So you know exercise is important, and you fall somewhere in the spectrum of loving it or hating it. Right?

When faced with the decision to begin an exercise program, what should you choose? Exactly what exercise is best and which one should you do to reach whatever your specific goal is? Today I will give you 2 truths and 1 lie that will help you figure that out. Let’s start with the lie.

LIE – Choose something you love
This advice is always given with the best of intentions, but let’s be honest, not everyone loves to move their body, and we have different reasons, apart from loving it, to incorporate exercise in our lives. Anything from simply improving your health to a specific issue exercise will bring benefits or a solution to, the gamut of why to exercise is much, much vaster than loving it.

You don’t need to love exercise to do it. Let go of this idea that you need to love exercise, be it a sport, a group activity, weights, etc, you don’t need to love it. Loving to work out is not a requirement for doing it and it’s certainly not a requirement for reaping the benefits.

Loving to work out is not a requirement for doing it and it’s certainly not a requirement for reaping the benefits.

TRUTH – Try
The only bad workout is the one you don’t do. With that in mind, and understanding that you may not start out loving something, TRY different things. There are SO MANY different kinds of exercise… from yoga to boxing, from swimming to volleyball, from jogging to rugby, there are so many options you can try in your quest to incorporate exercise into your life. So give yourself room to to try. In trying, 2 things will happen:
1. You will be exercising. Like it or not, enjoy it or not, want to do it again or not, you will be reaping the benefits of exercise every time you try.
2. You will discover things you love – ok, honestly you might never LOVE anything, but you will most definitely find something you like, things you tolerate, things you hate. You will discover things that challenge you more or less, you will discover things your body responds better to, things your body responds less to.

For the sake of illustration, I will tell you *some* of my own. And by some I mean I am drastically short listing this, because I have tried a LOT of things.
Things I thoroughly dislike – group sports (think volleyball, soccer, basketball, all these things)
Things I tolerate, but don’t do if given _any_ choice in the matter (which is 99% of the time) – group classes (any group classes, on any gym activity or sport)
Things I’m ok with but don’t particularly love – yoga, running, swimming, hiking, barre
Thinks I really enjoy – weight lifting, boxing
Things I love – …

I’m not lying. I don’t love exercise. I love the results, I love the burn, I love the feeling of getting it done and challenging myself, but truth be told I never want to start my workouts. I start out of habit and knowledge of all this does for me, I start because myself in 5 years will be oh so grateful that I wasn’t a couch potato today. Love? That’s too strong a word.

In terms of my body’s response… that also changes according to exercise. Not all bodies are created equal, and not all exercise yields equal responses. My best responses for my goals (build lean muscle and reduce fat) are weight lifting and boxing. My body answers to those things. For me, jogging and barre, for instance, will give me a workout but my body does not respond as well to these activities.

I know what you’re thinking… “Aline, what about my body?” Friend, that is why this truth is so important. TRY. Listen to your body, it will literally show you what works best for you.

Listen to your body, it will literally show you what works best for you.

TRUTH – Do something you can commit to
Consistency is the single most important factor in getting results from your exercise. Consistent quality is more important than random impressiveness. Once a week won’t cut it. Walking 4h once a month won’t do it. Lifting super heavy whenever the mood strikes will not do you any good.

Consistency, consistency, consistency. Little deposits over time are what make a difference. What can you incorporate in to your life that you will do every day? Ok, I hear you, you don’t want every day, I’ll address that in another post, so what can you do at least 3 times a week, that will push you a little bit without burning you out?

That’s your sweet spot!

Again, for the sake of illustration, here’s my personal example:
Through all the years of trying, I have found that the determining factor for my consistency was working out at home. Through the years whenever I worked out from home I was the most consistent and saw the best results. That didn’t stop me from trying other things from time to time, but I always come back to home workouts. That being said, years ago I tried boxing lessons because it was something I always wanted to do, and I LOVED it! However… classes were 2x/week, in the evening, for 1.5h. As much as I enjoyed the classes (although I didn’t love the group component of it), I just did not want to give up that much of my evenings. I stopped and went back to my array of home workouts. One of my favourite home programs? A 6 week, 5 days a week, 40 min a day program. BAM! That was my sweet spot. I like variety so I finish that and do something else then come back to it, but you get what I mean.

When you find something that fits in to the days you want to have, while reaching the goals you are working towards, you have found the perfect exercise for you.

Consistency is the single most important factor in getting results from your exercise.

There are so many options in terms of time, level of impact, level of interaction… choose what you will do consistently.

Bottom line: What is the best exercise there is?

The one you do.

Keeping it simple,
AK

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