Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Single Best Exercise?

The New York Times (NYT) recently posed the question to exercise physiologists and other professionals in the fitness field (article here):

What is the single best exercise? 

The answers ranged from
  • brisk walking (from an anesthesiologist and endurance exercise researcher)
  • burpee/squat thrust (from chairman of kinesiology department in Canada)
  • Squat (Professor of kinesiology at same university in Canada)
  • High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, on a bike also made the list
If I'm the average person reading the NYT, I am certainly more confused by the article, and in fact, I am looking at these so-called 'experts', and wondering why each answer seems so different than the other.  I mean, don't they all read from the same textbooks?  Why is there no coalition to collaborate and put these wonderful minds to work for the obese American? 

66% of the country is either obese or overweight, and there is no such thing as adult-onset-diabetes.  Because now kids are diagnosed with diabetes. 

Then, the New York Times posed a question to the hedge fund managers at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Barclays and Bank of New York:

What is the single best way to make money?

Okay, so maybe they didn't ask financial experts the single best way to make money (I made that part up...), but I think we can all agree it's because the answer to that question will depend on who is asking the question. 

If only the New York Times would ask experts similarly...ahh.  I digress. 

Regardless of the dumb question posed, I still propose a solution, an answer to that very vague inquisition, that perhaps none of these exercise physiologists and wunderkinds thought of:

Take whatever exercise you're currently doing, and do MORE. 

You don't exercise? Start walking. You're already walking? Work to a jog.

Already jogging? Work in interval runs and sprints

In the gym: whatever exercise you are currently doing, either up the weight (intensity), repetitions, sets, or decrease the rest time to make the challenge that much higher. 

Doing pilates and yoga for years?  Think about your bone-density and lean-body mass, and pick up some heavier weights to stimulate that all-important bone.  And females, PLEASE, unless you're taking testosterone supplements, you will NOT get bulky lifting weights 1-2 times per week. 

Swimming?  Count your laps every workout.  Or put on flotation devises on your feet and allow just your upper to do the work

The principle these gentlemen forgot, or at least forgot the communication of it to the general public: ADAPTATION

Just like our body builds up resistance to viruses and bacteria, we build up similar resistance to exercise.  Technically, we as humans do NOT want to add bone or muscle!  They are expensive, heavy, and metabolically costly to build and maintain.  However, this is the precise reason we must combat age, other forms of stress, and poor movement patterns with progressive resistance training in many forms. 

Financially speaking, as the years go by, your profile investment strategies will change depending on your income, your risk strategy, and the amount of assets (think muscle!) you have. 

Back to fitness: as the years pass, your workout strategies will change depending on your available equipment, current activity and fitness levels, risk strategy (read: previous injuries), and the amount of lean-body mass you currently have. 

In summary, look no further than your own exercise routine to find out the best exercise for you, and please, remember to do MORE. 

-Coach Kev

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