We no longer have to guess. Harvard Medical School released a paper outlining the only five exercises we need to practice to get the best outcome for our bodies. And the results are surprising!
Don’t like going to the gym? No problem! Part of the reason that these exercises are so fantastic is that you don’t necessarily need a gym membership. As the Harvard researchers say:
“Some of the best physical activities for your body don’t require the gym or that you get fit enough to run a marathon.”
The researchers elaborate that these five ‘workouts’ can do wonders for you health, as you will experience a wide range of benefits:
- Improve your balance and range of motion,
- Strengthen your bones,
- Protect your joints,
- Prevent bladder control problems,
- Ward off memory loss, and
- They’ll help keep your weight under control.
Exercise Number One: Swimming
The researchers found after extensive research that swimming has a positive affect on mental health – in particular mood. Swimming is for all its intents and purposes a very healthy form of exercise for the body. The buoyancy of the water takes the strain off your joints and allows you to move them more fluidly.
For example; “swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight bearing,” explains Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Exercise Number Two: Tai Chi
Termed ‘meditation in motion’, Tai Chi is a Chinese martial arts practice that incorporates movement and relaxation. The researchers elaborate: “Tai Chi is made up of a series of graceful movements, one transitioning smoothly into the next.
Because the classes are offered at various levels, Tai Chi is accessible, and valuable, for people of all ages and fitness levels.”
Dr Lee adds: “It’s particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness, and balance is something we lose as we get older.”
Exercise Number Three: Strength Training
Contrary to common myth, strength training will not bulk up your muscles. However, it will keep them strong. As Dr Lee says; “If you don’t use muscles, they will lose their strength over time.” It also helps to preserve your memory in the long run.
Muscles helps to burn calories: “The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, so it’s easier to maintain your weight,” says Dr. Lee. However, you need to learn the proper form for strength training so that you do not injure yourself.
The researchers elaborate: “Before starting a weight-training program, be sure to learn the proper form. Start light with just one or two pounds. You should be able to lift the weights 10 times with ease. After a couple of weeks, increase that by a pound or two. If you can easily lift the weights through the entire range of motion more than 12 times, move up to slightly heavier weight.”
Exercise Number Four: Walking
Walking is a low intensity exercise, that is easy to do and highly beneficial! The researchers share the following benefits:
Walking improves cholesterol levels, strengthen your bones, keeps blood pressure in check, lifts your mood, keeps you slim, and lowers the risk for a number of diseases (diabetes and heart disease for example).
A number of studies have also shown that walking can improve your memory and prevent memory loss.
“All you need is a well-fitting and supportive pair of shoes. Start with walking for about 10-15 minutes at a time. Over time you can start to walk farther and faster until you’re walking for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week,” the researchers explain.
(We are also fans of WalkingThe.Earth and this great story from Kenya.)
Exercise Number Five: Kegel
While these exercises might not fast track you to getting the figure you have always wanted, they do something as important. Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles which support your bladder. These exercises go a long way to preventing incontinence in both men and women.
How To Do A Kegel Exercise
The researchers explain: “To do a Kegel exercise correctly, squeeze and release the muscles you would use to stop urination or prevent you from passing gas. Alternate quick squeezes and releases with longer contractions that you hold for 10 seconds, and the release for 10 seconds. Work up to three 3 sets of 10-15 Kegel exercises each day.”
Harvard Researchers share their final word on exercise:
“Many of the things we do for fun (and work) count as exercise. Raking the yard counts as physical activity. So does ballroom dancing and playing with your kids or grand children. As long as you’re doing some form of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, and you include two days of strength training a week, you can consider yourself an ‘active’ person.”