We all have them: friends who love all things exercise, routinely adopting the latest fitness program, posting their exercise regimens on Facebook and inadvertently making the rest of us feel guilty for watching another episode of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. Their enthusiasm is infectious, especially at this time of the year when many of us – due to New Year’s resolutions or a bit too much pie and general merriment during the holidays – feel compelled to get off the couch and exercise.
No one doubts that exercise is healthy for you, but be careful when selecting a fitness program. Traditional gyms still abound, but there has been a rise in gyms or programs within gyms that are specifically focused on new and innovative workout techniques. One example is CrossFit, a program that combines cardiovascular exercise with strength training and has become a popular way for fitness enthusiasts to complete challenging workouts. Despite the surrounding controversy over higher rates of injury associated with Crossfit, many people swear by the high-intensity workouts. Then there are interval programs like Orangetheory Fitness®, dance-inspired work-outs liked Groove and Bokwa (as well as the more well-known Zumba), and so on and so on.
Enough to drive you back to the couch, isn’t it? Well, before you do, remember that getting some exercise compared to no exercise will always be beneficial. Exercise can make it possible to prevent certain illnesses and help you live longer. And the good news: recent studies show that there may indeed be a very happy middle ground.
Rather than aiming to do intense workouts every day or jumping on the latest fitness trend, strive for moderation. Current guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to maintain health and fitness levels (a little over 20 minutes a day). This can easily be achieved by taking short walks – invest in wearable devices such as the FitBit® to help you keep track of exercise like daily steps or heart rate – and practicing other low-impact activities, such as yoga. In fact, in the past few years yoga has gained momentum and is cited by many as a way to prevent injuries.
Regardless of which type of workout you most enjoy, don’t push yourself too far. Remember that what works for others might not work for you and follow these tips to ensure safe workouts:
If your budget allows, consider a session with a personal trainer to develop a regimen specific to you and your goals. A trainer can also ensure you are practicing good form and reducing the risk of injury during exercise.
Most importantly, remember to listen to your body. Work out at your own pace to achieve your desired results.