As a sports medicine doctor and fitness instructor, I want my patients to move. I want them to move because it makes them healthy and strong. I want them to move because it prevents disease. I want them to move because it makes them more productive in every aspect of their lives.
Is there a 'best' type of exercise?
I tell my patients that the best kind of exercise is the one that gets them out of bed every day. The holy grail of exercise is compliance. Meaning, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re doing it every day. Yoga? Great! Walking? Perfect! Jogging? Fabulous! Zumba? You bet!
What exercise gives you the biggest bang for your buck?
Once you’re moving consistently, what about results? If you’ve got 30 minutes per day to exercise, what works best? In my book "The Workout Prescription," I examined the science of intensity. My conclusion: HIIT (high intensity interval training) is something that everyone should try two or three times per week.
Different than going for a jog or taking a walk, there is something unique about ramping up your intensity. Not only does it make you sweat more, it speeds up your metabolism and helps fat burn more effectively than slow, steady-state exercise.
To figure out how hard you’re moving, we use a scale called perceived exertion, otherwise known as the “talk test.” Light exercise means you can easily talk during an activity, for example, while walking. Moderate exercise means you’re working a bit harder stringing together sentences, like during a jog. Intense exercise is when you drop the hammer. Words are tough to come by, you’re really huffing and puffing, like when you’re jumping rope or doing burpees.
Here is a great 6-minute workout you could try:
You need two sets of light dumbbells (5-8 pounds) and an exercise mat. Perform each of these exercises for one minute, then rest for 15 seconds. If you're at an intermediate or advanced level, repeat the entire routine three times for an 18-minute workout.
3. Overhead push press with weights
5. Mountain climbers
Watch the video below to learn watch how to do the moves.
I recommend about 25% of your workouts per week should be in the intense, vigorous zone. The best way to get there is to try some of intense moves like burpees and jumping rope. And most importantly, join a group who will encourage you along the way!
How can you stay motivated?
The science on exercise indicates that fitness compliance is most tightly linked to fun and community. It doesn’t matter if your gym is super fancy with neon lights or if it desperately needs a paint job, if you feel a sense of community, you’re more likely to show up regularly.
Happiness counts too. If you’re having fun, meaning you’re smiling when you’re moving, science says you’re more likely to stick with your program.
Don’t forget, every movement counts towards a healthier you so get out there every day!
Jordan D. Metzl, MD is a sports medicine physician at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. In addition to his medical practice, he is the author of five books on the interface between medicine and fitness. He created the IronStrength fitness community, the first physician-led fitness community designed to promote health through fitness and community.