Yoga is an exercise form from the ancient healing activity from the Ayurvedic healing tradition. Yoga combines movement with mindfulness, breathwork, and flexibility. A person who practices yoga regularly gains strength, mobility, mental and emotional clarity. With rare exceptions, anyone can practice Yoga.
It doesn’t require a gym membership or any fancy equipment.
Working with a group on Yoga can provide friendship and support, a valuable connection vital to basic human needs.
Practically speaking, Yoga has no requirement to compete or best someone externally. One only need to focus inward, striving to clear the mind, strengthen the spirit and body.
Functionally, Yoga can range from exercise that mimics stretching to a dynamic complex fitness artform. Each person determines how far they go based on their experience, ability, and consistent practice.
Lastly, research supports the benefits of Yoga.
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As a modern doctor, trained in traditional western medicine, I have discovered in my 20 years of practice, most diseases had a cure long before I diagnosed it.
No pill, procedure, or surgical intervention can replace what proper diet and time-honored movement therapy can do for prevention. Yoga is a great exercise option for those looking for challenging but attainable. It’s great for improving mindset, reducing stress, building strength, and improving mobility.
Weight training has a mountain of research that supports health. Resistance training in the form of moving weights or resistance to build muscular strength serves many important purposes.
For athletes, resistance, or weight training combined with functional movements common to any given sport can improve performance and decrease injury risk.
To age well, developing or maintaining strength helps prevent falls, weak bones, balance problems, and low energy. In addition, studies suggest weight training serves as one of the best forms of exercise for losing weight.
Generally speaking, if you seek better health, longevity, mobility, and frankly the ability to move heavy things without injury, you should consider adding weight training to your life several days a week.
You don’t need a fancy gym. A basic dumbbell set, resistance bands, or a kettlebell can put you on the right track. Scan YOUTUBE for routines that fit. Think about movements that mimic real life. (Carrying things, squatting, bending, sitting up, lunging, sidestepping, etc.) Adding weights to activities that resemble real-life will yield measurable benefits.
Healthy Aging, fall prevention, injury prevention, everyday athlete
Easy, low impact, and inexpensive. Walking provides a basic level of exercise that can begin to improve fitness, mobility, and strength. Nearly anyone can start with walking.
In addition, walking provides a flexible routine in which we can increase or decrease depending on ability. We can vary the route, distance, incline, and multiple other variables for those who like variety or require more or less intensity.
Walking or hiking also serves as a social event. Lower intensity generally means we can still chat with friends while getting our steps. Combining social engagement with physical activity increases commitment and accountability.
When working with people coming from a completely sedentary background walks or daily hikes are a favorite recommendation.
4-5 days weekly 30-45 minutes serves as a good first goal.
Bicycling serves as another great form of exercise. Cycling has some unique benefits. Cycling relies heavily on strength in the lower legs as well as heart and lung ability. Cycling is a low impact sport with regards to knees and joints.
Cycling requires equipment. A bike and helmet are a must to get started. Additionally, a safe route free of heavy or dangerous automobile traffic is an added requirement. Personally, I prefer riding in parks or areas that have proper bike lanes and lower traffic volume.
Much like walking, cycling one can vary intensity dramatically. Cycling can vary from low intensity, relaxing pace to a grueling time trial. Hills, wind, temperature, and mechanical gearing all play a role in the variety a cyclist can experience.
Many who have suffered from knee issues cannot tolerate running or pounding on their joints. Cycling provides a viable alternative.
If road cycling does not sound appealing, remember we can gain the same benefits by using a stationary bike or recumbent bicycle.
Swimming has many unique qualities. Swimming uses your entire body. Mobility, flexibility, breath control, upper and lower body strength all play vital roles in this form of exercise.
Of course, swimming requires a safe place to swim. For most, a community pool or gym may offer the best opportunity to add swimming to your regimen. I love recommending pool activities due to the very limited impact on joints or spine issues.
Even if you have shoulder issues, neck issues, or lower back problems, swimming or simply pool exercises (Zumba, Kick boarding, aerobics, walking in water) work for nearly anyone.
Sometimes I see patients that suffer from extreme weight issues that make every step painful. Pool activities provide a real solution for those trying to make progress, improve mobility, and reclaim their health.
When it comes to exercise, a mountain of research links health to regular physical activity. Ignoring this research limits longevity, mobility, strength, balance, and even neurologic health.
In my clinical experience, people who do not exercise suffer more health problems, pay for more medications, and generally experience a more limited scope of activities and opportunities.
The activities listed in this article represent a few basic forms.
Try multiple, combine them, and rotate them if you prefer.
Do something and do it most days of the week.
Bring a friend, your kids, a spouse, or a co-worker.
I have often observed, changing sedentary behaviors promotes other healthy habits. I often find my patients struggle less with proper dietary habits when they maintain a habit of fitness. I have even seen smokers quit more easily after starting an exercise routine.
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