Best and Worst Workouts according to Science

pilates class

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.

people working out with kettlebells

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.

senior couple doing tai chi in park

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.

man doing crunches outside

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.

couple walking dog

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.

man measuring stomach

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.

traditional yoga class

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.

woman swimming

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.

group of people running

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.

man lifting weights in gym

Go for It: Weight Training

Also called strength training or resistance training, exercises with weights build your muscles, burn calories, and strengthen your bones.

woman doing squats in gym

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
woman using elliptical trainer

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.

woman skipping rope

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.

man doing jump box exercise

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.

young people dancing

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 >

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