My work as a fitness counselor with one of the most reputed and scientifically sound chain of gyms and fitness academies in India, brought me across numerous exercise related queries from my clients and gym members. Some of the most common queries that I tackled were like this:

What is the best form of exercise? Should I do cardio or should I do strength training? Should I run on the treadmill or go for swimming?

So, what is really the best form of exercise? How does one know and choose? Well, to understand this we need to understand a little bit about how the human body behaves and responds to different types of exercises.

  • Cardiovascular Exercises like swimming, running, jogging, elliptical trainer, rowing, etc. are exercises that help improve endurance or stamina. These exercises strengthen the heart, improving overall stamina. These exercises also help increases endurance in the muscles, meaning the muscles can perform any activity for prolonged periods of time. Strength of muscles and endurance of muscles are two different aspects of physical fitness, which brings us to the next point.
  • Strength training or resistance training or weight training is a form of exercise that strengthens the musculoskeletal system of the human body. In simpler words, these exercises strengthen your muscles, bones, connective tissues like the tendons and ligaments. A lot of people argue that strength is something that they don’t require. Strength of the muscles, bones and connective tissues is important to hold our own body weight. As we age our muscles become weaker, and the load starts building up on the bones and connective tissues leading to degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis. Strength training also helps prevent conditions like osteoporosis, mostly common in women.

If you’re a woman and are averse to training with weights, read “Does Weight Training Make Women Bulky?” 

  • Flexibility is another important aspect of overall physical fitness. One needs to regularly do stretching exercises to maintain and improve the flexibility of the body. Loss of flexibility leads to many problems like postural defects, increase in risk of injuries, limited functionality in day to day life, etc. Can you picture someone who has difficulties in tying their own shoelaces or pick up the keys from the floor? That’s loss of flexibility.
  • Loss of flexibility could be a result of body fat also, and not just stiffening muscles. For example, a lot of body fat accumulation around the abdominal region will also lead to limited movement in the upper body. I am sure that one’s not very hard to picture, is it? And not just loss of flexibility, too much body fat leads to a myriad of metabolic disorders ranging from heart complications, blood cholesterol problems, diabetes, etc. leading to stokes, heart attacks and a host of other serious health issues. And well, who doesn’t want a flat stomach… Fat loss can be achieved by making necessary dietary changes and starting an exercise regime that is designed to improve on the various aspects of physical fitness. A combination of cardiovascular workouts and a weight training routine with stretching exercises is the right way to go about it! Also remember, eating less is not the key, eating right is…

So what are you waiting for? Go start your run or swim and lift some weights… Along with a correct nutrition program, you’ll be on way to a fitter and better life.

Now, I’ll not stretch this read too much; but you don’t forget to stretch out at the end of your workouts!