Have you ever asked yourself, “Why am I doing the exercises that I do?” The best form of exercise is the one that will accomplish your fitness goals in a timely manner without injury. With so many exercises from which to choose, it’s difficult to determine the “best” one. Of course, each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at five common cardiovascular exercises and see which one is the best form of exercise.
Running is the best form of exercise in terms of a cardiovascular workout. Not only is it a great way to tone your legs and glutes, running is by far one of the most effective forms of cardiovascular exercise to burn calories, burn fat, and work the heart and lungs. So why is this? This is because it is also one of the most strenuous on your body. In order to run, your body must work at a much higher rate causing a much greater expenditure of calories. With that being said, running may not be right form for some individuals with knee, ankle, hip or back problems because it is a high-impact exercise.
Next to running, walking is the next best thing to work the cardiovascular system and burn calories and fat. While walking is another great exercise, it is less strenuous than running, which is both a pro and con. On the one hand, it is not as harsh on your joints, but the downside is you have to walk longer to burn the same amount of calories compared to running. However, slowing things down from time to time can be rewarding because you can enjoy the mental relaxation of a nice stroll through a park or a hike through a forest.
Another great form of cardiovascular exercise is the elliptical. Like running and walking, the elliptical also has its advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, it has a very low impact which makes it a great option for people with joint problems. This is exactly why it was designed in the first place. Ellipticals were designed to give people with joint problems an alternative way to exercise that is similar in function to walking and running. Automatically, this means since it is less strenuous, you don’t burn as many calories as running or walking. Therefore, you would have to spend even longer to do the same work as walking or running.
Biking, whether it is inside or outside, is another great form of cardiovascular exercise. Like the elliptical, it is a low impact form of exercise but again, it is not as strenuous as running or walking.
Swimming might arguably be the best form of exercise because it is the most well-rounded, full-body workout. It works your heart, lungs, and strengthens many muscle groups simultaneously. It’s also low impact for those who suffer from joint pain. On top of all that, swimming offers mental health benefits, too. Water is calming and drowns out external noise so you get a break from the stress of day-to-day life. The downside to swimming is that it generally does not burn as many calories as running, but all its upsides make it a candidate for the best form of exercise.
What It All Boils Down To
In summation, the less strenuous exercises may be better for bad joints but they don’t burn as many calories. It all depends on the abilities and preferences of the individual. Some people are made to be runners, while others belong in the water. Go out and try all these exercises for yourself if you can to see which one suits you best. Variety is the key when it comes to fitness. Keep challenging your body and you will see results.
If you ever need a free exercise program, feel free to email me and we can schedule you for some meetings to design a program just for you! Or, if you ever have any questions about exercises, myths, or fads, feel free to email me as well.
Matthew has a B.S. in Sports and Exercise Science from Wisconsin Lutheran College, is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, and Certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). He specializes in Sports Performance, Strength and Conditioning, Injury Prevention, Health and Wellness, & Functional Training. Matthew lives by the philosophy of “Anything worth having is worth fighting for” – Susan Phillips and he believes that if you want something, then go get it, and don’t stop till you do.
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.