Not-so-fun fact: 80 percent of U.S. adults do not meet the “Physical Activity Guidelines” set by the Centers of Disease Control, National Institute of Health and other critical health groups, for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. While we know it’s hard to get out there and get moving, physical activity is one of the most critical aspects of overall health.
Weekly exercise controls weight, combats health problems and diseases, boosts mood and energy and decreases anxiety. If you’re not getting the daily activity you need, here are four different types of exercises and workout plans to try—all with different benefits—that could change the way you feel and live.
HIIT (short for High Intensity Interval Training) is a form of exercise that alternates between intense bursts of physical activity and longer periods with lower levels of activity. HIIT shocks muscles and stimulates change in the body, and it builds endurance and strengthens the heart. Even better? After a session, the body continues to burn calories for up to 24 hours.
Bonus Tip: When starting HIIT, choose an exercise you enjoy that focuses on larger muscle groups (like the legs) to get your heart rate up.
Running is one of the most popular methods of exercise in the United States. It gets your blood flowing and your muscles working. Even five to 10 minutes of light jogging each day greatly reduces the chance of cardiovascular disease. Running raises levels of good cholesterol, increases lung function and improves heart health.
Bonus Tip: Ease into running; start with walking. There are plenty of beginner programs you can research on the internet—check them out and see what may fit your needs.
Lifting Free Weights
Unlike machines, lifting free weights is more effective and safe when used properly. It allows you to specifically target certain parts of the body that need special attention. Lifting free weights has been shown to increase lifespan and metabolism while simultaneously protecting joints from degeneration.
Bonus Tip: Seek advice from someone experienced in free weights, and read up on proper technique and programs before starting.
Flexibility and Stability
In 2016, an estimated 36 million people were practicing yoga! And with good reason, too—yoga improves posture, balance and strength. It also decreases digestive issues and is an excellent form of stress management. There are many different styles to choose from, depending on your individual needs, and the yoga community has tons of online resources you can tap into if you have any questions.
Bonus Tip: Yoga is not supposed to hurt—if a certain pose puts you in pain, ask your instructor about possible modifications.