42% of people who start exercising quit within 30 days. 90% quit within 3 months. Finding the ‘right’ exercise is key to a fitness plan that you’ll actually stick to. But with so many different exercise genres and classes out there, it’s difficult to know where to begin. How do you know which one is right for you? Sally Symonds shares some top tips to help you find your perfect exercise match.
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The first step is to consider your overall aims. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, skip the classes and cardio equipment completely and head straight for the weights floor.
If, on the other hand, you find going to a gym intimidating or boring, you’ll be relieved to know that some of the best bang-for-your-buck exercises in terms of burning calories are body weight ones: squats, lunges, planks, push ups, and rows and you can do all of these in the comfort of your own home, or down at your local park if you want to mix things up a bit.
But if you loathe the thought of strength training, don’t despair – you’ve still got options. Consider what exercise is right for your personality type. It might sound like the exercise equivalent of Internet dating, but it works – because balancing the psychological with the physical aspect of exercise is the missing ingredient in most conventional approaches to weight loss.
So how do you find your type? The so-called Big Five factors of personality (commonly referred to by the acronym OCEAN) are one model for identifying which behaviours are associated with different personality types:
- Open and receptive to new experiences: exercises to music, outdoor exercise, unscheduled exercise.
- Conscientious, strong-willed, and determined: regularly scheduled exercise sessions and high intensity exercise. Avoid classes.
- Extroverted and outgoing: aerobics classes, mixed gender gyms, exercises to music.
- Agreeable and happy-go-lucky: regularly scheduled exercise sessions, preferably in the mornings.
- Neurotic and self-conscious: indoor cardio (such as treadmill walking/running) or low intensity workouts.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things – it’s the best way to discover what’s right for you, and you might be surprised by what you end up enjoying, and by what physical feats you’re capable of!
It’s important think outside the box, and if you want to vary your exercise (which is the best way to keep your mind and body motivated and challenged), try something new. There are plenty of mainstream options to suit every schedule, such as ice skating, fencing, archery, hot yoga, and Pilates, and every type of dance you could possible think of, from swing to zumba. But have you ever considered something a little more left-of-centre, such as jousting, circus classes, aqua kickboxing, martial arts, hockey, or water running?
New things are on offer all the time: one of the latest additions to the exercise menu is groove dancing, which is a dance class for people who lack coordination, and surely a more fun alternative for anyone who’s tried – and failed – to grasp the choreography of an aerobics class. If you want to release some frustration while you exercise, try Piloxing, the latest Hollywood craze that combines boxing with Pilates!
You never know what’s on offer in your local area until you start investigating. Finding the right exercise to keep yourself motivated and active isn’t just about losing weight – it’s about having fun. Exercise releases the same endorphins as sex (which, incidentally, burns about 250 calories per hour!), and if you aren’t getting that feel-good feeling when you exercise, you haven’t found ‘the one’ yet – so keep looking!