Getting Fit? Which Exercise Is Best?

In my quest to get fit, I’ve done lots of reading and research. Other people’s struggles. What works for them. The best shoes for my feet for running. The best exercise routine. I read the information and try to take away what I find most important. The stuff that will help me with what I want to do.

There seems to be two hard core exercise camps, and then a bunch of us in between. The cardio people (of which I am currently one) and the strength training crew (I aspire to strength training but am not quite there yet). What amazes me are the fanatic fringe in these camps. The cardio people who say you have to do cardio…it’s the only way to lose fat. Nothing else will work.

And the strength training folks who say you have to strength train because it builds muscle, which ups your metabolism. Nothing else will work. I read one strength training article that went so far as to say cardio is bad for you because it makes your body more efficient and if you ever have to stop your body will basically become a big blob again. I don’t know. I knew a weight lifter guy once who stopped lifting weights and he turned into a big blob too.

For me, I knew I needed goals to get fit, so I started training for triathlons. I like to swim, I can bike, and now I can run. Without something to train for, I knew I wouldn’t be regimented about exercising. For some reason, a healthy body was just not enough to get me into the pool or even into my sneakers.

Race training works for me. I have a goal. I work toward it. I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I complete a race. I look for a bigger goal.

What I’m doing, though, isn’t going to work for everyone. It’s not going to work for most people.

But something can work for everyone. For the strength trainers, it’s lifting weights. For the cardio people, it’s walking or running or swimming or…. For yoga people, it’s yoga… you get the idea. I’m betting it’s really best to do a little of all of those things.

Bottom line is if we’re going to get fit, we have to move, even if it’s just from the couch to the front yard at first. Even if it’s dancing to your favorite song in the living room.

I’ve found something that works for me and I’ve stuck to it for a year. It’s challenging, not boring and ultimately, fun. I do a little of other stuff and I plan to add more. But this was where I needed to start.

Whatever the fanatics say, I’ve lost weight, built muscle tone and have more energy. And when I take a day or two off, I don’t turn into a big blob, but I do look forward to getting back to my training.

Do what works for you. Do what you are going to stick to and enjoy. Do something that will challenge you and that you can build on. Have fun. And don’t listen to what everyone else has to say. That’s my prescription for a good exercise program.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Fran on July 26, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I totally agree with you: as long as you’re having fun with the exercise you do, you will keep on doing it!

    I also think a little bit of everything is the best: Cardio, Strength and Yoga/Pilates. At least that’s my way of trying to lose weight and mostly not getting bored. I get bored by doing the same thing every day/week.

    I’m kind of afraid if I still will enjoy running after September when I finish my 10K run. So I’m already looking for 10K run’s after September every 1 or 2 months till Spring so I will still have a goal for my running.

    xxx Fran


  2. I’m so over the idea of “best” in everything. What is wrong with “good enough”? I believe that we should do some cardio, some strength training and some flexibility training (stretching). They each have their place. If you’re training for a specific event, of course your focus will be on those disciplines, but you will still benefit tremendously from the the other modalities. My trainer is also training someone for next year’s IronMan (not just an also-ran, but a real competitor) and she makes sure that he does plenty of strength training and core and flexibility work.

    I have a 5K walk in two weeks’ time, so I’m starting to train for that tomorrow (in addition to my usual swim and aqua aerobics).


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  4. Good topic! I’m motivated also by approaching races. It helps me stick with a training plan and get out of bed when I know I have a finish line to cross.

    For fat burning/weight loss/strength, I think it’s a combination of cardio with weights, hi intensity interval training. There are so many interesting choices that work well. I lead a bootcamp-style workout in a park by my house. Each week we do a different combination of interval moves + hill running + pilates/core work on mats.

    I like how you’re encouraging people to be active. Get out there & do what you enjoy! Right?!
    Happy training!


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