These are the five best exercises to get fit, according to Harvard University
All the people who want to get in shape ask themselves the same question when they start training: “what do I have to do?” Is it better to go for a run, train at the gym or do Pilates to achieve the goals I am looking for? With the wide range of sports available to us today and the large amount of information we have about physical exercise, deciding how to get fit can be complicated or even overwhelming for a person who starts in sports.
I-Min Lee, a professor in the epidemiology department of Harvard University, along with other experts from this center, have designed a detailed guide to begin training in which they include, in addition to different training routines, the five best exercises to get fit in a global way . What are these exercises and the recommendations to practice them safely?
In the list of the five best exercises to get fit we can find movements and global sports that involve the synergic work of many of the muscles of our body, and that also combine the strength training component (either with external loads or with our own body weight) with aerobic training to get a full job.
On many occasions we have heard that swimming is one of the most complete exercises we can perform, and that is why it is the head of this list at Harvard University to get fit.
Swimming, in its different styles , involves the coordinated action of practically all the muscles of our body , which must work synergistically to move forward and keep us afloat. Emphasizes especially the involvement of the muscles of the back and the core.
The water offers us a work of resistance without impact that can be beneficial for our joints, at the same time that we perform an aerobic work that improves our cardiovascular system.
Tips and tricks to take advantage of swimming training to the fullest
- Although many times what we usually do when arriving at the pool is to take a quick shower and directly start swimming , we must remember that, as in all training, it is important to first go through a warm-up that warns our body that we are going to perform a physical effort. The mobilization of the joints is essential before starting our routine.
- To learn well the technique of each one of the styles before “getting into work” is basic to avoid vices and to prevent possible injuries : a good corporal alignment, the activation of the internal musculature of the abdomen or the correct placement of hands and arms. they will only make us faster, but they will also protect us from possible damage.
- Use the material at your disposal to integrate it into your workouts: the tables or pullboys are accessories that can be used to improve our stroke or work of our legs. With them we get more intense and focused training in a specific area of the body.
- He combines swimming with hard work in the room: strength training is essential to be better swimmers . From improving our muscle tone and quality to training the technical gestures in the dry and then transferring them to training in the water: strength training will only give us advantages.
2. The tai chi
Many may be surprised that tai chi enters this list, but the truth is that it is a traditional Chinese martial art that involves a very complete training, both of our body and our mind. In recent years it has also developed as a competitive sport.
The control of our body, the balance, the awareness of our body in space, the control of deep breathing and coordination are some of the basic aspects that are worked on in Tai Chi , being able to practice it in isolation (against an adversary imaginary), with another person or using certain weapons (from fans to Chinese sabers).
The practice of Tai Chi is organized in different “forms” or sequences of movement formed by a certain number of “pictures” or postures that come together in a fluid way. As for organization, it can be similar to what happens in Yoga with the sequences formed by different asanas or postures (like for example the greeting to the sun ).
In addition to a training for our body, Tai Chi is also used as a means of meditation in movement : the high degree of concentration required by this practice makes it easy to focus on the “here and now”.
Tips and tricks to make the most of your Tai Chi classes
- Relax: it is the basic premise for the practice of Tai Chi. Staying relaxed throughout the training will facilitate movements and help us maintain a correct posture.
- Take advantage to escape daily stress: as we have said, the practice of Tai Chi requires a lot of concentration, so during that time when you practice it, if you do it right, you will free yourself from the mental burdens of work, social commitments and the rest. Although meditating is not your thing, surely freeing yourself from stress is.
- Take what you learned home and put it into practice in your daily life : the principles on which Tai Chi is based are very susceptible to apply in our day to day. From awareness and the improvement of our position to the balance between the inside and outside.
3. Strength training
Strength training in any of its modalities is a basic one that we should not overlook , whatever our state of form, our age or our objectives. We will always benefit from a better quantity and muscular quality, not only in our training, but also in our day to day, thus improving our quality of life.
You can try strength training with your own body weight ( here are some basic calisthenics you can try ), training with external loads ( circuits with kettlebells , full body routines ) or even interval training , always controlling the intensity and No need to get to HIIT if we are beginners.
Strength training is also ideal to combine with any other discipline , since all will benefit from it: a runner can improve their times by doing hard work. It can also benefit a swimmer, a triathlete, a boxer … Always adapting the work routines to your needs.
Tips and tricks to get the most out of strength training
- It combines several types of training: training in the gym room does not mean doing the same routine every day. In most gyms we have a lot of material with which we can vary our training: kettlebells, medicine balls, bosus, elastic bands , dumbbells, bars, pulleys, guided machines …
- If you do not want to train in the gym, go to the park : the calisthenics have become very fashionable lately among those who prefer to train outdoors in the different parks of the cities , where we can take advantage of the children’s games to train, always and when they are not busy. The calisthenics in the park, alone or in a group, is one of the best trainings for your body.
- Or you can train at home using some of the training apps we have available. We tested the Freeletics application some time ago, both in its Bodyweightversion , in which you work only with your body weight, as in its Gym version , for which you will need some material. Other interesting apps are Runtastic Results or Nike + Training Club .
4. The walk
Walking more in our day to day is the basic step (never better said) that we have to give to get in shape. Walking is an exercise suitable for all audiences (although not all of us do it correctly) and that is part of our daily physical activity.
To turn it into a sports practice we will need, first of all, to establish physical objectives that we want to achieve during our training. Rhythm objectives, kilometers traveled or duration of training are some of which we can set.
In addition to improving our general physical condition (improves our circulation and our cardiovascular system) can also help us better mental health: some studies have already pointed to the relationship between moderate physical exercise, such as walking, and risk reduction of suffering depression.
Tips and tricks to get the most out of the walk
- The ideal is to walk at a light pace so that these hikes become a sporting activity: it is not a matter of walking as if we were looking at shop windows, but trying to maintain a rhythm a little higher than usual that requires moderate effort.
- Combine it with music: the Power Walking is ideal for those who want to get to train outdoors and do not want or can not run. Music, when we choose it correctly, helps us to set a certain pace to which we must walk and also makes training more enjoyable. Here you can find an original downloadable session to practice Power Walking for one hour.
- If you walk, do it well: we said before that we can all walk but not all of us do it correctly. You just have to take a look around the street to see people who are bent forward, others who put their knees in at every step, or some who arch their backs back. It is important that we maintain a good technique remembering three basic points: shoulders back and down (away from the ears), chest pointing forward and look two meters ahead of us.
5. The Kegel exercises
Another surprise that incorporates this list developed by Harvard are, without a doubt, the Kegel exercises for the pelvic floor . And is that many times we focus only on “what you see” (“I want to mark abdominals”, “I want to have a biceps bigger than my head”) while we forget what we do not see and that, on many occasions It is more important, like the pelvic floor musculature.
Kegel exercises have traditionally been associated with recent mothers, since they are specially recommended to recover the tone of the pelvic floor musculature after childbirth.
However, we know that your training can be beneficial for both men and women, who see their sexual life improved, the control of urination and general health (the pelvic floor muscles act as a support function for the viscera) .
Also the runners can benefit from the Kegel exercises , since running is one of the sports that harms the health of the pelvic floor due to the high amount of micro-impacts that it receives during the race.
Tips and tricks to get the most out of Kegel exercises
- If you are a woman you are in luck because there are already devices with bluetooth connection to monitor the exercises of the pelvic floor and so that they become a real game for children. These devices, like Elvie, which we have already analyzed in their day , help us to locate the pelvic floor musculature and to work it in three minutes a day.
- If you are a man you have a little more difficult the subject of the location of this musculature , but we explain in this post how to do it . You can also benefit from these exercises that can improve erection problems or simply benefit your sex life.
- The best thing about Kegel exercises is that they can be done anywhere , although the ideal is always to look for a quiet time and place that favors concentration. The easiest way to do them is to lie down, but we can also take them out sitting or even standing.
What kind of training is the one that suits me?
Does this mean that sports or exercises that do not appear on this list do not work for us? Obviously not: it will always be better to do some kind of sport than not to move from the chair all day .
The most important thing, especially when it comes to starting to get fit, is to find a sport or activity that we like, with which we enjoy and that we generate adherence . Once we have found it (and it does not always have to be the first time) to stay faithful to it and keep training every day to get fit will be much easier.