The truth is, most people don't really like to exercise. Sure, there are exceptions, but the average person has a hard time committing to a fitness program. There are always reasons or excuses. Many people are just so busy they can't (won't) find the time to work out. Then there are also a large number of people that find most exercise unpleasant and sometimes painful.
This is why it is so important to find something that you enjoy. You need something that you can actually look forward to and also see results in a timely fashion. You also have to keep an open mind.
The three areas of exercise that I will introduce are great for all ages and also for people with limitations. Perhaps someone recovering from an injury. Or maybe battling Arthritis, Fybromyaligia, Obesity or any number of conditions that call for a somewhat "gentle" approach.
The first option is what some may consider miraculous. It is aquatic fitness. Get twice the workout in half the time- with very little pain.
According to a recent study completed at the University of New Mexico, "Weight bearing, land-based exercise presents a challenge to the joints and soft tissues of the body. The repetitional strain imposed on the tissues by ground striking can lead to injury. The buoyant force of water results in up to a 90% reduction in body weight in the water. Because of the cushioning effect of water, individuals potentially at risk to bodily stress from weight-bearing exercise, such as the elderly, obese, individuals with a soft tissue injury, or those with an orthopedic disorder, may find water to be the most desirable environment for exercise. Yet, at the same time, water is capable of providing a full-body resistance. The density of water is approximately 800 times that of air, which is an important contribution to the energy cost of aquatic exercise (Di Prampero, 1986) . Thus, the water environment allows for high levels of energy expenditure with relatively little strain to the body."
This offers you the best of both worlds. You get a great workout without even knowing it. You can simply do walking laps, swimming or a variety of different exercises of your choice or you can join a class and get some ideas. You can find aqua aerobic classes at most health clubs or park districts. Here's a link that will allow you to search by your zipcode. There are also some great aqua arthritis classes that are given by instructors that are certified by the Arthritis Foundation. You can find them here.
The second option is Tai Chi. If you are not familiar with Tai Chi, here is an overview:
Tai Chi is an ancint art that uses gentle flowing movements that reduce stress, improve health, flexibility and strength. According to the Mayo Clinic, " The intensity of tai chi varies depending on the form or style practiced. Some forms of tai chi are more fast-paced and exerting than are others, for instance. However, most forms are gentle and suitable for everyone. So you can practice tai chi regardless of your age or physical ability -- tai chi emphasizes technique over strength. In fact, because tai chi is low impact, it may be especially suitable if you're an older adult who otherwise may not exercise."
The third option is Yoga. Many people have preconceived notions about Yoga. It is not a religion. Yoga is a mind-body practice in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with origins in ancient Indian philosophy. The various styles of yoga that people use for health purposes typically combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. According to The National Institutes of Health:
Research suggests that yoga might:
- Improve mood and sense of well-being
- Counteract stress
- Reduce heart rate and blood pressure
- Increase lung capacity
- Improve muscle relaxation and body composition
- Help with conditions such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia
- Improve overall physical fitness, strength, and flexibility
- Positively affect levels of certain brain or blood chemicals.
As a beginner, I would highly recommend attending a few classes, given by a certified trainer. Once you learn the proper technique, you can continue on your own- if you prefer. Here is a link that will help you find a local class.
Before starting any exercise class, you should always discuss it with your physician first. And if you do have any limitations, discuss them with your instructor prior to the class.
So get out there and have some fun and get fit!