Exercise your choice to carefully select a fitness routine that is most appropriate for you, says Abhinav M
When presented with multiple options to choose from, we, as human beings, tend to settle for what seems to be easy and appealing. In the context of exercise, we are challenged by the myriad of exercise options laid before us. It becomes quite confusing for us to analyse and choose the kind of exercise routine that suits our goal and health. The process of comparing different types of exercise routines is cognitively very demanding, and if such an analysis is done without understanding the basic science on which each of these types is built, the final result may prove to be ineffective and, in some cases, even harmful.
In order to prevent ‘decision fatigue’ and avoid confusion when forced to choose an exercise routine, we must take a deep dive into the roots of these routines and arrive at a conclusion that suits our goals. Choosing aerobics may not be the best option for someone who is trying to lose weight with an ankle injury or performing boxing may not be the safest option for someone who is introducing physical activity for the first time in their life.
So, let’s have a look at the 'famous five' exercise routines and understand what works best for us.
Any discussion regarding weight loss has to have a citation pertaining to aerobics. Aerobics has evolved over the last few decades and has split into different variants under different names. However, at the end of the day, all variants serve the same purpose. It increases the cardiovascular efficiency of an individual in an enjoyable manner. Doing long walks on a treadmill or cycling for kilometres on a stationary bike can become a boring process, and aerobics acts as the perfect antidote to it. Having said that, caution should be exercised when individuals engage in aerobic activities. Most of these classes keep the intensity very high and, when paired with loud music and a crowd that pushes your limits, injuries may be waiting just around the corner. To combat this issue, ensure that you attain a basic level of fitness before you jump into such classes, if you want to stay injury-free forever. Aerobics is the perfect solution for individuals who are looking for that extra push and fun when exercising. However, keep in mind that aerobics done in isolation may not be the best choice and needs to be paired with other forms of physical activities to maintain a well-balanced fitness level.
Yoga, in its pure sense, cannot be listed as a form of physical activity. Yoga is not exercise. It's a practice that helps us live our life at its best by optimising our health, nutritional habits, and state of mind. Nevertheless, we can take a leaf or two out of that book and add it to our current practices to make the best of both the worlds. Yoga, performed as an exercise, is an excellent tool to increase one of the biomotor abilities—flexibility—of a human being. Flexibility is a quality which has a huge scope for alteration, considering the complexity of various asanas in yoga. Yoga may act as a form of physical activity that aids in weight loss in the initial phases; however, it switches its role, as an individual gets accustomed to the routine. Yoga, paired with other forms of physical activity, acts as a tool to manage stress and increase flexibility at later stages of training life. As a note of caution, keep in mind that extreme levels of flexibility is not always a desirable quality as it may increase the chances of injury. In our context, learn how to strike a balance and apply the brakes when needed.
Pilates seems to be the new-found obsession of many individuals who are trying to be fit. Its inception dates back to many decades, and it was performed primarily in Canada and the United States, in the early days. It has become a part of many gyms in the recent past and has helped many individuals become fit. Movements in Pilates helps an individual improve balance, coordination, core stability, and core strength. Most of the newcomers rate it as the best tool, considering its tremendous impact on the human body. However, Pilates too suffers the burden of overdose. If Pilates is all that an individual does to stay fit and healthy, then they are missing out on the benefits of other forms of physical fitness. Instead, what should be done is fairly straightforward. Don’t overdo Pilates and pair it with other forms of physical activity like aerobics or strength training to ensure that you develop a well-balanced physique.
Any form of exercise performed using an external resistance falls under this category. Our own body weight can also be considered as a source of resistance. The biggest advantage possessed by this form of exercise routine is the scope for progression. Unlike other forms of physical activity, resistance training offers the greatest scope for progression in terms of muscular strength. Resistance training also helps fight osteoporosis and diabetes. Studies have shown that the insulin sensitivity of cells increases after a few weeks of resistance training in diabetic patients. Muscular strength is the primary parameter that improves as a result of participation in resistance training. On the flipside, resistance training performed using external resistance such as barbells or dumbbells are, by default, dangerous if performed in the wrong manner. The technical complexity of such exercises mandates supervision and guidance to learn the form and technique in order to prevent injuries. Resistance training can be addictive, considering the rapid rate of progress in performance, and it is quite common that an individual who lifts weights, develops an allergy towards cardiovascular exercises. Keep in mind that you cannot replace aerobic work with resistance training and vice versa. Violating this law will create a void in your fitness level and lead to troubles in the future.
Mixed martial arts (MMA)/ Kickboxing/ Boxing
It's only in the last one or two decades that we have seen the shift in our training philosophy, where highly complicated and skill-oriented combat sports have changed their role to serve the purpose of weight loss. These practices are very effective and can also aid in weight loss in the short term. However, they come with their own disadvantages. Combat events are skill-oriented, and it takes years to attain mastery over them. Overnight integration of such combat sports into our physical activity routine will lead to injuries and early burnout. When done in a progressive manner under the guidance of a qualified coach, it can definitely help us achieve our fitness goals without causing any damage. The key is to start slow and build our fitness level to a point where our body can tolerate high-intensity training without damaging the tissues.
Every form of physical activity offers its unique advantage but comes with its own price tag, and a choice has to be made after analyzing the pros and cons of every one of them. None of the above-mentioned routines can replace one another and, hence, can be part of a gym goer's schedule. Analyzing one’s own current physical fitness level, goals, and health should be the deciding factor instead of adopting an exercise routine based on one's likes and dislikes, which can lead to injuries.
The message is very simple and clear. Do not overdo one type of physical activity, under any circumstance. Choose what your body needs and what it is capable of. Don’t follow the crowd and make an educated decision about the type of routine you want to follow. After all, it's your body; don’t experiment with it! And stay healthy.
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