What Are the 5 Best Exercises?

Reviewed on 5/24/2021

Exercises
the 5 best exercises for maintaining health and fitness are push-ups, walking, swimming, strength training, and yoga.

Everyone, regardless of age or gender, needs to stay physically active to be healthy. But studies show that only 1 in 5 adults and teens get enough exercise during the day to stay fit. So what are the best exercises that will make sure you are optimizing your overall health?

The truth is, the best exercises for you depend on your age, general health, and stamina. For example, if you have conditions like high blood pressure, arthritis, or heart disease, you may want to talk to your doctor about what works for you.

For most healthy adults, however, these 5 basic exercises generally work best in maintaining health and fitness:

Push-ups

Push-ups help strengthen various muscles, including the ones in your arms, shoulders, and chest. They also engage the abs and strengthen your lower back.

  • Get on the floor facing down. 
  • Place your palms slightly wider than but in line with your shoulders. 
  • Extend your legs back so that your body is balanced on your hands and toes. 
  • Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe without arching the back. 
  • Keep your feet together or slightly apart depending on what is most comfortable for you. 
  • Keep your core tight, inhale, slowly bend your elbows and lower your body until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Breathe out, push your body back up using your hands, and bring your hands to the starting position. 
  • Keep your elbows slightly bent. Do not lock your elbows.
  • Repeat

Walking

Taking a brisk walk is one of the best ways to stay fit and healthy while minimizing the risk of wear and tear on your body. If you’re a beginner, start slow and walk for about 20-30 minutes at a time. Then try to increase to a brisk pace and take at least 10,000 steps a day.

Brisk walking can help burn about 300-500 calories an hour, helping to shed extra pounds, build healthy bones and improve heart health. Make sure to wear good quality shoes to reduce strain on your joints.

Swimming

Swimming is a fun and relaxing way to burn calories and boost overall health. A recreational swimming session of about 30 minutes will help burn around 150-250 calories. It also builds strength and stamina, increases the metabolic rate, and helps fight stress.

Strength training

Muscles play a crucial role in keeping you both healthy and in shape. Strong muscles can help you burn calories even while resting and may also help manage diabetes and obesity

When you do strength training workouts like weight lifting, your muscles are active and working. This prevents muscle wasting, which occurs when muscles are no longer actively involved in burning calories and building strength. 

Strength training exercises often involve using dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and plates. If you are a beginner, you may want to start doing strength training under the guidance of a certified trainer. Start with lighter weights and slowly increase to heavier weights if desired. Aim for lighter weights but more repetitions.

Yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice that focuses on bringing harmony between the mind, body, and soul. It couples physical poses with breathing control, relaxation, and concentration techniques. 

Yoga helps improve flexibility, fight stress, improve sleep, boost immunity, manage weight and build stamina. If you’ve never done it before, you may want to try taking a class with a certified yoga instructor and then using those techniques in your everyday life.

What are the benefits of exercise?

Other lifestyle factors, such as nutrition, good sleep, drinking plenty of water, and stress management, play a crucial role in keeping a person physically and mentally healthy. However, exercise is a huge part of that process that shouldn’t be overlooked.

By staying fit, you can help prevent several diseases, including diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, and even cancers.

Good exercise can:

How much exercise should you do?

According to the American Heart Association, adults should aim for at least:

  • 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity
  • 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity 
  • Or a combination of both preferably spread throughout the week

Furthermore, they should aim for moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening exercises, such as resistance or weight training, at least twice a week. 

For children and teens between the ages of 6-17, at least 60 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, mostly aerobic, is recommended. Children should also do weight-bearing exercises at least 3 days a week to promote bone health. Children between 3-5 years of age should be active most of the day in play, especially outdoors, whenever safely possible.

SLIDESHOW

Pictures of the 7 Most Effective Exercises to Do at the Gym or Home (and Tips to Improve Form) See Slideshow

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References
American Heart Association. American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults

Sarnataro BR. 7 Most Effective Exercises. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/7-most-effective-exercises#1

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