In recent years, exercise has a tendency to be seen as more of a trend than a necessary component of living a healthy, balanced life. The popularity of new exercise fads can make it seem like there is a one-size-fits-all approach to working out. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking if you just sign up for one $35+ cycling class you’ll be well on your way to becoming your healthiest self.
But is there anything inherently better or healthier about expensive exercise classes or balancing a goat on your back in downward facing dog?
The truth about exercise
Despite what the internet may try to convince you of, there is no magic, cure-all exercise program. When it comes to exercising, the key is consistency—you have to get up and move every day.
Exercising regularly is one of the most important contributors to your health and longevity, says Dr. Ron Eaker. Moving your body for just a short amount of time each day can help you maintain a healthy weight, improve your mood, increase your energy, promote better sleep, and help prevent or control chronic illnesses.
But motivating yourself to exercise regularly so you can reap these benefits can be difficult. Especially if you feel like you need to spend lots of time and money on the trendy fitness fads you see on social media. To find an exercise program you can stick to, focus on activities you love.
Finding what works for you
Alright, yes—yoga is good for you. Those extravagant fitness classes? Probably also good for you. But, so is walking, biking, swimming, running, playing a pick-up soccer game, you name it! The common denominator is that they all involve consistent movement that gets your heart rate up and your blood pumping. That’s what’s important says Dr. Ali Saberi.
There is no one-size-fits-all exercise regime. Every person has unique preferences when it comes to exercise and it’s essential you take those into account when deciding how you want to work out. Hate the gym? Don’t go. You only reap the health benefits of working out if you exercise frequently. And the key to exercising frequently? Finding something you love to do so you’ll stick to it.
How to get started exercising
If you haven’t exercised in awhile or are getting started with a routine for the first time, start slow. “It’s a myth,” says Dr. Alan Ali, “that the more intense the exercise, the better.” It’s far better to do a little bit of exercise every day, 30 minutes to an hour, than a few very intense sessions where you risk injuring yourself.
New to exercising? Start by integrating small bits of movement into your everyday activities. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk around the block on your lunch break, do 10 squats every time you get up to go to the bathroom. Even just 30 to 60 minutes of walking can help reduce your weight and risk of stroke and heart disease.
Looking to adopt a more long-term, regular exercise program? Here are some inexpensive, easy ideas:
- Yoga: there’s no need to shell out money on classes. Youtube has a huge assortment of full-length yoga classes taught by qualified teachers for every fitness level. Check out Yoga with Adriene and Fightmaster Yoga.
- Hop on a bike: cycling is a great way to get around. Headed to the store around the corner? Try biking there instead of taking the car, get your exercise and your grocery shopping done all in one.
- Swimming: with the weather warming up, there’s no better time to get in the water. Got a pool? Lucky you! If not, head over to your local YMCA or community college for some laps.
- Take a hike: literally! Get out and explore nature, odds are there are some beautiful trails just waiting to be walked in your own backyard. You can use sites like AllTrails to find local hikes in your area, ranked by difficulty and popularity.
- Strength training: buying your own set of dumbbells or resistance bands is fairly inexpensive and you can find weight lifting and even bodyweight workouts on YouTube.
- Check with your city: chances are your local Parks and Recreation department has some fun group exercise programs planned for this summer. Visit your city’s website to see.
If you need help determining an exercise program that fits your goals and unique health and lifestyle, reach out to your doctor. They can work with you to develop a workout routine that is healthy and sustainable for you.