What is the Best Exercise?

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We are often asked by patients what exercises and stretches are good for certain conditions or areas that have been problematic. While I definitely understand the importance of target stretches for affected areas, I am quite surprised when people try to target certain areas of their bodies in their exercise routine. I think it’s pretty safe to say that all of us have fat on our bodies – some more, some less. While it is important to get regular exercise, to try and target certain areas often becomes unrealistic and can lead to self-esteem issues.
Remember that 80% of our weight loss goals are due to food choices, and only 20% is based off of exercise. If you think about why you want to work different areas instead of just for physical appearance, that may help with long term goals. For example, we want to build our shoulder and arm strength to help lift and carry our children or grandchildren. We want a strong core (abs) to decrease potential low back pain and maintain a strong foundation. Finally, we want strong legs and glutes (buttocks) for explosive power and to help us with lifting objects. If we think about the why behind these areas, it can help us create a program that is both safe and effective at achieving our goals.
So, what exercise is best for cardio? Running? Elliptical? Classes? I always respond with “what do you like to do?” If I told you that running was the number one way to stay healthy, but you hated running, would you do it? Find an activity that you enjoy doing and work on it. Elevate your heart rate so that you build up a sweat and get active. By doing so, you will release endorphins which improves your mood and you will get great cardiovascular benefits.

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