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The 13 best exercises for overall health and fitness – Medical News Today

Posted: December 23, 2020 at 5:02 pm


The powerful combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training can help a person build muscle strength and improve their heart, lung, and circulatory health.

Exercises that target multiple muscle groups are particularly effective. These include various exercises that require little to no equipment and can suit a range of fitness levels.

Here, we look at 13 of the best exercises for overall health and fitness. We explain what areas of the body each exercise primarily works and provide step-by-step instructions.

People can do the following exercises individually or as part of a circuit. Some require basic fitness equipment, such as dumbbells or an exercise ball, but people can do many of them with no equipment.

The American Council on Exercise recommend that people continue doing repetitions until they reach muscle fatigue or can no longer maintain proper form.

However, they note that endurance athletes, such as runners and cyclists, should stick to about 2030 repetitions rather than working to the point of muscle fatigue.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend doing 812 repetitions of 810 strength training exercises on at least 2 days of the week.

The ACSM also recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a day, 5 days per week. Alternatively, they say that people can perform 20-minute sessions of vigorous physical activity on 3 days of the week.

Pushups work multiple muscle groups, strengthening the arms, chest, and shoulders.

How to do them:

Bodyweight squats can increase lower body and core strength as they work the abs, buttocks, hips, thighs, calves, and shins.

How to do them:

Lunges work the thighs, buttocks, hips, and abdominal muscles.

How to do them:

Running is a form of aerobic exercise, and it can help improve cardiovascular fitness and bone strength. Jogging is a less intense form of running and may be best for beginners.

People can often improve their running endurance through interval running, which involves running for a certain distance or time and then switching to walking before running again. Alternatively, people can switch between running and sprinting.

Sprint interval training may help decrease body fat, increase aerobic capacity, and increase peak running speed.

Side planks help build core strength, which can help reduce lower back pain. Side planks work the buttocks, hips, and abdominal muscles.

How to do them:

Planks strengthen the back and abdominal muscles and help build core strength.

How to do them:

Once people feel strong performing this exercise, they can try a high plank. This move uses the same body positioning, but the person keeps their arms straight with their palms flat on the floor, directly underneath the shoulders.

Knee tucks work the abdominals, calves, and shins. People will need an exercise ball, sometimes called a stability ball, for this exercise.

How to do them:

The glute bridge is good for the muscles in the back of the body, known as the posterior chain.

How to do it:

This exercise helps strengthen the shoulder muscles. People will require two dumbbells.

How to do them:

Dumbbell rows can strengthen the back and increase muscle growth. An increase in muscle strength also causes the body to burn more calories when resting. People will need two dumbbells for this exercise.

How to do them:

A pike roll-out works the abdominal, arm, and shoulder muscles. People will need a stability ball.

How to do it:

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The Crow Stand is a yoga pose that improves balance and can help build wrist, arm, and core strength.

How to do it:

Swimming uses almost all the muscle groups but is a low impact exercise. Therefore, it may suit people with certain injuries or health conditions.

A person should swim in a public pool or a safe, supervised environment, particularly if they are a beginner.

People can take a few steps to make these exercises more challenging as their fitness improves. These steps include:

People can also work alongside a personal trainer or fitness instructor. These professionals can safely increase difficulty levels and help people maintain proper technique.

Regular exercise is important for overall health and fitness. A combination of resistance and cardiovascular training is a powerful tool to help prevent many health conditions.

People can start slowly and increase the frequency of workouts or the number of repetitions and sets in each one as their fitness levels improve.

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The 13 best exercises for overall health and fitness - Medical News Today

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