What exercise should I do?

Should I do yoga? Is running bad? Will I hurt myself doing HIIT?

As a physical therapist, a lot of my patients ask for advice about what exercises they should do to stay healthy. My answer is, the best exercises are the ones you like. People are more compliant with exercise routines when they actually like doing them. So, it’s important to find something you like, or better yet, find something you love to do.

A variety of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and stretching will make your exercise routine well rounded. Typically the activity you like least is what you need the most. If you love stretching, odds are you may need to do a bit more strength training. Remember to mix it up. The good thing about taking an exercise class is you typically do a little bit of everything.

Yoga is great for stretching and stability. What I love most about yoga is the attention to breath and mindfulness. Yoga isn’t for everyone. It’s OK if it’s not your thing. Yoga stretches are great for addressing low back problems. You don’t necessarily need to do yoga to do yoga stretches. You may want to incorporate yoga stretches into your routine if you suffer from low back problems. Consider cobra, cat-camel and child’s pose.

Running is only bad if you don’t do it right. The problem for runners is many times they just run. This can lead to repetitive stress injuries. Remember, you need to train to run, not run to train. Be sure to stretch the right areas like hip flexors and calves and to strengthen the right areas, specifically your calves and glutes. If you exercise to run, you decrease your risk of running-related injuries. If you need help to become a good runner and reduce your risk of injury, consult with a physical therapist. They can perform a running analysis to identify problem areas and running form corrections. 

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT is great for strength training and cardiovascular fitness. Incorporate foam rolling into your HIIT session because it’s great for muscle recovery. You are just as likely to get hurt from being weak doing normal daily activities as you are lifting weights to develop strength. HIIT undeniably makes you stronger. You will find that in time, daily activities seem much easier. Remember to listen to your body and know your limits. Don’t add too much weight too fast, and be mindful of your form and you’ll be fine.

Most importantly, find your passion!

By Dr. Lauren Mines, PT, DPT