Best and Worst Workouts according to Science
Go for It: Pilates
It’s a low-impact workout that focuses on your core — your hips, back, and abs. It uses your own body as resistance and taps into the mind-body connection. Pilates builds strength, makes you more flexible, and helps your joints move the way they should.
Use Caution: CrossFit
This exercise program can be an effective calorie burner — when done right. But take on this intense workout with care, or you could get injured. Moves are meant to push you out of your comfort zone to your limit. It can be great for some, but CrossFit definitely isn’t for everyone.
Go for It: Tai Chi
Studies have shown meditation is a big booster of mood and health. Tai chi takes meditation to the next level by putting it into motion. Its series of slow movements helps with balance and stress relief. It’s good for all ages, too.
Use Caution: Crunches
They aren’t all bad, but crunches aren’t great if you’ve got a bad back. They put pressure on your lower spine. They can tighten the muscles you use to sit, too. That can pull at your spine even further. If it’s a six-pack you’re after, ask a fitness expert for other moves you can use that won’t wreck your back.
Go for It: Walking
This oldie but goodie is top-notch for both your body and your brain. You can do it just about anywhere. It’s easy on your joints, boosts your mood, and helps you stay heart healthy.
Use Caution: Spot Reduction
If you want to target tummy fat, you should hit the mat for some sit-ups, right? Wrong. You can’t zero in on any one area of fat when you work out. That’s a myth. A better approach, experts say, is training your whole body. It’s overall fitness, not focusing on specific areas, that burns fat best.
Go for It: Yoga
When it comes to your muscles, if you don’t use them, you lose them. Yoga’s gentle stretches keep you limber so you can enjoy an active life. It can also relieve stress, improve your breathing, tone your muscles, and give you more energy.
Go for It: Swimming
When it comes to workouts, swimming checks all the boxes: It’s kind to your joints, boosts heart health, improves your mood, and burns calories. It’s especially good if you’re dealing with an injury. The water takes the weight off your frame so you can get your heart pumping without pain.
Go for It: Running
If it’s calories you’re looking to burn, running will give you the most bang for your buck. An hour of it burns twice as many calories as biking or walking for the same amount of time.
Go for It: Weight Training
Also called strength training or resistance training, exercises with weights build your muscles, burn calories, and strengthen your bones.
Use Caution: Weight Training
However, good technique is crucial when you pump iron. Bad form can hurt you in a hurry. Especially risky moves include:
- Loading up with weights that are too heavy
- Bad posture
- Skipping a warmup
- Lifting without a spotter
Go for It: Elliptical
Not only can you get all the great benefits of walking with an elliptical machine, you can do it with less joint jarring. The moving handles it has add in arm exercises, too. You can also use it in reverse. That helps strengthen leg muscles beyond what a forward workout can do.
Go for it: Jumping Rope
It’s not just for playgrounds. It’s a powerhouse workout you can do almost anywhere, and you only need a rope to do it. It can build lower leg muscles, improve your coordination, and create more pathways in your brain. That helps you stay sharp as you get older.
Use Caution: Plyometrics
Speaking of jumping, plyometrics is a form of exercise (also called jump training), that works on your muscle power and explosiveness with a series of jumps. When done right, it makes for strong leg muscles. But it’s easy to do it wrong, especially if you’re going it alone. Landing badly can cause injuries, including problems in your joints. Before you start, talk to a trainer to see if it’s the right choice for you.
Go for It: Dancing
Your heart is happiest when it gets exercise that moves both your legs and your arms. The rhythm and constant movement of dance can do that. And it’s fun, which will have you coming back for more.
Source: Best/Worst Workouts, According to Science >