Find your fitness fit

Finnese your fitness fit

If you’ve started an exercise program, well done. If you’ve stuck to it, that’s even better, because almost 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program drop out in the first six months1

Words: Helen Hawkes

Exercise physiologist and author of Get in the GO Zone Mark McKeon believes the key to exercise success lies in finding an activity you enjoy. So, ask yourself the right questions before you begin your new regime: do you like working out in a group or alone? Indoors or outdoors? What’s your budget? What’s your reason for doing it – to lose weight, build bones or increase stamina?

Here are a few exercise options that cater for a range of fitness types and lifestyle choices to help you choose which one is right for you.

Walking

PROS: It’s free and you don’t need any special equipment. You can also do it solo, with a friend or as part of a group.
CONS:  It doesn’t build upper-body strength.
SUITS: Anyone, from beginners to elite athletes.
RESULTS:      “Walking can help you retain strength of bone in the lower body,” says McKeon. “It is also good for mobility and cardiovascular health.”

Pilates

PROS: Pilates is one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen core muscles and tone your entire body, says Pilates and yoga teacher and personal trainer Josie Cain.
CONS: You need specialised instruction to do Pilates, because the exercises are very specific.
SUITS: Anyone who wants better posture and a stronger core and back.
RESULTS:    Improved flexibility; increased muscle strength; improved stabilisation of your spine and posture; and rehabilitation or prevention of injuries related to muscle imbalances2.

Running

PROS: Running is an intense cardiovascular workout that builds strength in the legs. It also burns kilojoules, so is good for weight management, says McKeon.
CONS: “Running is very hard on the knees, ankles and hips,” he explains, adding that it puts a heavy load on joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles throughout the body.
SUITS: High-adrenalin types who don’t have joint problems and want to develop stamina.
RESULTS:    You’ll control your weight, build muscle in your legs and increase circulation and heart health.

Weight Training

PROS: It strengthens bones, builds muscle and burns kilojoules. It also improves stamina and can help keep you mobile and strong for life.
CONS: There’s a high risk of injury if you don’t use the correct technique.
SUITS: Young and old alike who want to build muscle and bone and increase functional fitness.
RESULTS:    Weight training – particularly among older adults – can reduce the loss of muscle mass and the resulting loss of motor function3.

Swimming

PROS: Swimming is a low-impact activity, so is suitable for anyone with joint problems, such as arthritis.
CONS: Because swimming is not a weight-bearing activity, it doesn’t do much for the bones, so needs to be supplemented with weight-bearing exercise4.
SUITS: All ages and fitness types, including the frail and elderly.
RESULTS:    Swimming exercises the entire body but particularly the muscles of the back, chest and arms.

References:

  1. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, ‘Self-regulatory processes and exercise adherence in older adults: executive function and self-efficacy effects’, September 2011
  2. Better Health Channel, ‘Pilates and yoga – health benefits’ betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Pilates_and_yoga_the_health_benefits Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, ‘The Intensity and Effects of Strength Training in the Elderly’ May 2011
  3. BizNews.com, ‘Why swimming is so healthy for your heart – and the rest of you’, 12 February 2014, biznews.com/health-biznews-com/2014/02/swimming-good-ticker-rest/

Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.