I am often asked the question “what is the best exercise for …..”.  Gosh, there are so many forms of exercise and so many different conditions or restrictions people have. But there is a simple answer.

Best exercise 

What is the best exercise for weight loss?

What is the best exercise for during chemo?

What is the best exercise for cognition?

What is the best exercise for longevity?

What is the best exercise for cardiovascular health?

What is the best exercise for blood glucose control?

They all have the same answer. The best exercise for you is the one you enjoy – and preferably love – and the one you will keep doing. 

Yes, there are lots of specifics, and fitness fashions and trends, and indeed some types of exercise may target certain issues, but…

Exercise should be more than just moving your body.  Let’s look at the big picture.

My new love – cardiodance

I’ve just joined a local athletic club near our new home and have been trying out lots of different classes. But the Monday morning class I did just before writing this is my new love! It is cardiodance. I was looking for a dance type class and this is just fabulous. Yes, the other classes are fun too – but this is my new love!

And what do I get from the class? Way more than just the physical benefits of exercise.  

  • It’s a group class so there is socialization. Meeting new people. 
  • The music is fun and upbeat and lifts my spirits.
  • I have to concentrate to follow all the steps and routines so am using my brain.
  • With all that concentration, I forget anything that was bothering me when I went into the class
  • Coordination and balance
  • Learning cool dance moves!

In class today our instructor said we had all the moves down, but the one thing we missed was attitude!  And that is a key part of the class. I come out of that class with a different attitude.  Attitude can be defined as “a feeling or way of thinking that affects a person’s behavior.”  After doing my class, I feel more confident, I feel freer, I feel bolder, I feel sassy! And it changes how I behave.

My other love – a walk to the beach

My other love is my daily beach walk or cycle. I love the time this gives me to chat with my hubby.  And the trail itself is beautiful. It goes by a creek, you can see and hear the birds, watch the fish, see the community all making great use of this trail. Then we get to the beach and walk along the sand. By now, the attitude shift has kicked in! I have a different way of thinking. And my behavior does change. And without fail, both of us feel different when we get home – and it shows. 

What could be your new love?

So forget about finding the perfect exercise. Find the one you love. And if you haven’t found it yet, think about what you are looking for. Maybe it is:

  • solitary walk in the woods. Gives you time to clear your mind so you come out with a new attitude and calmness, or it gives you time to resolve something that has been bothering you.
  • group class – to give you some socialization and interaction with others.
  • a difficult class because you want to stretch your ability and come out feeling you’ve made progress and accomplished something
  • a walk around the neighborhood with a friend so you have the chance to catch up on what they are up to and be there for each other
  • a group cycle ride or mountain hike through fabulous scenery to open your eyes on the world and feel expansive
  • working out to an exercise video in the privacy of your home to feel safe and comfortable in your surroundings.

If you are trying to figure out what to do – look for more than just the movement. Consider these other factors. What can it give you? What do you need? And have a change of attitude as a goal!  

Find your love

Obviously, if you love to exercise, you can hone in and create a balanced program for yourself to help optimize your health and fitness.  But if you struggle with exercise or do it reluctantly – start thinking more strategically about what you want from your exercise beyond the physical effects. Think of the big picture and all it can offer you. It can help motivate and empower you to just do it. The movement is great, but don’t miss out on all the other opportunities that come from moving. Do what you love. 

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