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