Harvard doctor reveals the best exercises for keeping your body healthy
Losing weight and staying fit is a difficult process to start with. Avoiding your favourite foods (because the best ones are often the worst for you) and finding the motivation to exercise in the first place is hard enough as it is. Then, once you've made the commitment to changing your lifestyle, you've got to figure out the activities you're going to try out to get in shape.
Most take the simplest route and go for a run, or join up to the gym and use the cardio equipment there. While this is definitely a worthy pursuit, there are apparently certain exercises that are best for weight loss, as well as muscle building and general health. In fact, in a Harvard Medical School report called 'Starting to Exercise’, professor I-Min Lee spells out what we should be focusing on.
You may be thinking: "Walking? But I already do that..."
The thing is, if you go for a 30 minute walk at a brisk pace, your body will benefit enormously. Aside from being surprisingly tiring and calorie-burning, doing this regularly has many other positives, from improving your memory to helping those who struggle with severe depression.
2. Tai Chi
Tai chi is excellent for calming your mind, heightening concentration, and is generally good for balance - especially in the elderly. "It is particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness," Lee explains, "and balance is something we lose as we get older".
3. Strength Training
Weights, resistance bands, body weight exercises... all these things are good for you, whether it's with heavy weights or lighter weights with more reps. These exercises can reduce your chance of injury from running by up to 30%, and if you can manage two sessions a week, it can do wonders for your muscle control.
You don’t have to do it for long; you can easily create a 10-minute high-intensity interval circuits by choosing five exercises, doing each for between six and 12 reps, taking a 20-second break in between each block and repeating the exercise three times.
4. Kegel exercises
It's all about strengthening your pelvic muscles. If you think this is just for one gender, Lee actually recommends these exercises for both men and women, as you can control the muscles in the bladder, small intestine, and rectum as they begin to weaken with age.
All you have to do is contract your muscles for two to three seconds, release, then repeat this 10 times. If you do that a few times a day (preferably 5), you can get the best results, Lee says.
Harvard calls swimming "the perfect workout".
This exercise works almost every muscle and gets your heart rate going too. It's low-impact so it's easy for those with arthritis or otherwise damaged/injured joints; and 30 minutes a day can help greatly with depression and stress.
So if you're looking to start exercising more, you will be happy to know these exercises are verified by one of the top universities in the world. So what are you waiting for? Get to the nearest swimming pool near you and get started on your new regime!