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Picking the Right Activity to Meet Your Fitness Goals

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

In addition to its muscle-building benefits, resistance training — along with some forms of aerobic exercise — can also increase bone strength.

“Muscle pulling on bone builds bone, so any weight-bearing exercise will help build bone,” says Preethi Srikanthan, MD, an assistant clinical professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. This includes all activities that “require your muscles to work against gravity, including jogging, hiking, stair climbing, and dancing.”

Having fun
One reason many people give up on exercising is that they feel bored while doing it. But the truth is that these people simply have not found the fitness activity that is right for them. If you like what you’re doing, you will stick with it and incorporate it into your routine instead of finding excuses to avoid it.

Joining a class or club that revolves around a physical activity can help keep you motivated, since the others participating will expect you to show up. And most people won’t quit halfway through an exercise session if others are watching.

For some people, though, exercise is more enjoyable as a solitary way to unwind. They find it relaxing to listen to music on a stationary bike, hike nature trails alone, or watch TV while pedaling on an elliptical machine.

Regularly engaging in a few different types of exercise can help keep things fresh and let you adapt easily in case traveling prevents you from attending your fitness class, bad weather keeps you indoors, or you get involved with a seasonal activity. For example, if you briskly walk around the neighborhood a couple of times each week, you could work out with resistance bands or an exercise video on alternate days — and whenever heat, cold, or rain keeps you indoors.

Variety will also help ensure that you are working different parts of your body. Walking can be great for working the lower body, but it does not do much for the upper body. Swimming provides a good overall workout, but it is not a weight-bearing exercise and so won’t do much to strengthen your bones.

If you are not sure what type of exercise activity you would like, recall what you did for fun during your childhood. If you enjoyed playing kick the can and tag with other children, you might enjoy an informal group-based activity such as walking with friends. If you loved gym class and other structured group environments, joining a fitness class or taking physically active lessons may be a good option. If you preferred competitive sports as a youngster, try joining a community league that caters to your fitness level and age.

Remember that there are many different reasons to exercise. If an activity or exercise helps relieve pain, improves your mobility, or gives you joy, then count it as a success. By focusing on the areas of fitness in which you’d most like to see yourself improve, you can choose activities that fit your goals, your life-style, and your unique personality.

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Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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