As a physiotherapist, I am often asked what I think is the best exercise to do. There’s a short answer to this question, and a long one.
First, the short answer. The best exercise is the one that you enjoy and will keep doing. For some people, that might mean walking in nature, yoga classes at a local studio, or playing a round of golf on a well-maintained green. All of these activities (insert your favourite exercise or active hobby here) are great choices. Exercise is meant to move our body in meaningful and healthy ways, but it’s also a great way to change the pace of our often hectic lifestyle, disconnect from technology for a while, enjoy nature, spend time with people we care about, or just invest a bit in spending time with ourselves.
But there’s also a longer answer to the question about the best exercise. If we think of exercise in terms of our goal to optimize our body’s functioning, then there are three base pillars of fitness to consider: strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. From this lens, we can ask ourselves if our favourite workout or active hobby gives us one, two, or all three elements of fitness. A devoted yoga-class attendee might want to add in some strength training on alternate days. A cross-fitter could benefit from incorporating regular stretching into their routine. And an avid runner might lift weights or add in bodyweight exercises to round out their week.
What’s your “best exercise”?