health

The best exercise you can do in 2019.

A quick google search of ‘what’s the best exercise to do?’ will likely leave you so confused you’ll promptly untie your runners and go back to bed.

Swimming. Walking. No, wait, running. Unless you have bad knees, in which case, definitely yoga. But not for weight management. That’s Crossfit. Or F45. But include some stability and balance training like Tai Chi. Or Pilates. Did we mention strength training? But not at the gym – you’ll hurt yourself unless you get a personal trainer. And you should be doing squats. Every. Day. But burpees are bullshit. As of last week. Unless you want to get your heart rate up. Always make time to stretch, by the way. Actually, just cycle to work. Make it sustainable. BUT DON’T FORGET TO REST.

So, is there an answer?

We asked three experts – three Physiotherapists and a Personal Trainer – what’s the best exercise to take up in 2019?

Pilates

Stephen Velovski, the Director and Principal Physiotherapist at Redfern Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine, said for him, the answer was simple.

Pilates.

“For those with a pre-existing medical condition such as lower back pain, Pilates under the guidance of a physiotherapist will be my pick,” he explained.

“Pilates is a system of exercises often using specialist apparatus, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture and enhance mental awareness. It is widely used by your average office worker to elite athletes to correct muscle imbalances which can lead to tight muscles, recurrence of injuries, poor postures and decreased performance.”

Pilates, particularly in Australia, is soaring in popularity with an estimated 1.2 million participants. According to research published by Roy Morgan in 2018, 1.1 million of those participants are women.

Many, however, understand Pilates and yoga to be interchangeable, which experts are quick to dismiss. According to Pilates expert Rachel Compton, Pilates is about strength and stability, and helps with joint injury.

Conversely, yoga is more about de-stressing and trying to “recover from the other forms of exercise you’re doing,” according to Compton.

Lyz Evans, the founder of Women in Focus Physiotherapy, also referenced Pilates.

Her pick for the best exercise was anything that involved weight training with a “functional and mindful approach” – which Pilates does.

“There’s no such thing as bad exercise, only bad technique,” she said, and weight training returns us to “the complete foundations of what exercise is all about… like building you core.”

Evans said her answer often surprises people, especially given women’s focus on cardio.

Building up your muscle mass, Evans added, will ensure you can exercise for longer in your life, as well as improving posture and ensuring injury prevention.

“I would love people to think the long game for their body,” Evans said.

Body Pump or Zumba

For Physiotherapist Jason Chen, the key word is “compliance”.

“As long as you’re doing an exercise consistently,” he said, “you will see benefits and that will motivate you to continue.”

He would recommend Zumba or a Body Pump class with a friend.

“It comes down to what you enjoy,” Chen said.

There’s no point in taking up running if you hate every minute of it – because it simply won’t last.

“Create external motivators,” he advised,” such as training buddies and even fees… it will make you feel more compelled to go.”

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For Chen, it’s about getting your heart rate up and learning to love exercise.

Anything you can do every single day

“Whatever you choose, do it for 365 days this year,” Personal Trainer Billy Coffey said.

Specialising in strength coaching, Coffey echoed the same sentiment as Chen; exercise is all about consistency.

“Consistency and understanding it’s a journey is the key. It could be pulling seven waves over your head before 7am or yoga at 10am… but maintenance is essential.”

Coffey did emphasise that the intensity can vary – but the key is to commit to moving your body in some way every day, and making it a non-negotiable part of your routine.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, which works out to be about 30 minutes, five times a week.

For additional health benefits, WHO advises that an adult increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week. Examples of moderate-intensity exercise include a brisk walk, mowing the lawn, vacuuming, or bike riding.

WHO also suggest, however, that muscle-strengthening activities should be done on two or more days a week for at least 10 minutes in duration. That might look like Pilates, walking up stairs, push ups or squats.

Now. You might be feeling even more confused after being presented with what looks a little bit like conflicting information. But it’s actually not.

The answer to the best exercise you can do in 2019 is very straightforward.

Do something you enjoy.

If it’s walking that’s okay. Maybe it’s swimming at the beach, going for a half hour run in the afternoon, or taking up yoga.

If you have pre-existing injuries or suffer from back pain, Pilates might be the go.

But whatever it is, conceptualise exercise as a reward rather than a punishment; something you look forward to rather than something you dread.

Don’t beat yourself up thinking you need to be doing all the exercise all the time. Some of us hate the rowing machine or lifting heavy weights – and according to the experts – you don’t have to do them. 

Doing ANY exercise is great – just make sure you keep it up.

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