World's BEST Exercise
Written by: Meg Sharp, Wellbeing Consultant, Cambridge Group of Clubs
Being Fitness Experts, we get asked versions of this question all the time: “What is the BEST exercise…?” In my experience, there’s always a context or condition attached: “What is the best exercise for weight loss/squash players/mobility/core strength…?” And our answer is always (frustratingly?): “It depends.”
But it got me thinking: If pressed to answer that question generally, could I?
And I’ve decided I can. In fact, I have two answers. The first one is wonderfully (frustratingly?) open. For the second, I will bare my bias and plant a flag.
Answer one: The exercise you will do.
All exercise has certain positive benefits. And the challenge typically is not that we’re not doing a certain a type of exercise but rather that were not exercising enough or at all. Poor adherence to movement and exercise remains a huge challenge for Canadians. So, my answer would be: look for the exercises and activities that – for you – are fun, enjoyable. The ones you are capable of doing. The ones that fit into your schedule and lifestyle. The ones you do with your friends. The ones you will do.
Answer two: Strength Training.
If pushed to select one type of exercise, it would be strength training, every time. Let me add some context which – I believe – strengthens my argument: My personal FAVOURITE physical activities include the following: Running, cycling, hiking, alpine skiing, snowshoeing, pickle ball, paddleboarding. That’s right. Strength Training doesn’t even make the top 10. I choose it because strength training ensures that all those activities – and so many others that don’t even count as exercise – remain in my wheel house for as long as possible. Sports, recreational activities, occupational postures, daily living… ALL these activities strain and stress the body in asymmetrical ways. Because we have eyes that face front, we move mostly forward and are strengthened in this manner. Gravity pulls things – including our spines – down. Sitting is a common and necessary activity. And it’s terrible for your body. Road trips and movies are awesome. And create sciatic pain in many. Sex, eating at great restaurants, drinking phenomenal wines… well… those have challenges of their own too: Mechanical and metabolic. Wouldn’t you like to keep those activities in your wheel house for as long as possible?
Strength training makes everything easier and more comfortable. Balances asymmetries, can preferentially strengthen your backside, fight gravity and the natural pull of aging (and cell phone use), reduce wear and tear on your joints and keep you mobile. It improves coordination, metabolism, and energy.
Yep. If pressed, I would pick Strength Training every time.
Exactly what exercises you do for your strength training regime, is of course dependent on you: Your goals, the activities you want to support, your lifestyle and occupational stressors, your current fitness, current and past injuries, current and past health challenges, and the time and energy you are able to commit.
There’s a lot to consider. Which is why – wonderful reader – we again offer to cover the cost of a session with one of our personal trainers. We can help figure out where you’re at and – based on where you want to go – we can at least help you get from A-B.
Click below to set up your initial session.
Adelaide Club – Lauren Neal
Cambridge Club – Sean O’Neil
Toronto Athletic Club – Rob Coates