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The Best Aerobic Activities Aren’t What you think

When you think about the best ways to workout, most people think immediately of running and lifting weights. However, these activities are actually only ideal for a rather small part of our general population. The reason for this is because of how injury prone these activities are. There is a high risk associated with running, which is why the sport is considered “high impact.” Running puts a lot of pressure on your joints, which can exacerbate arthritis issues and create joint pain. While weight lifting is a great way to build muscle mass, it isn’t an aerobic activity, and it is highly associated with all sorts of injuries, from dropping the weights on your foot to pulling a muscle by lifting too much, too soon.  When your goal is to lose weight, then you want to make sure you are finding an activity that will keep you active day after day.

Surprisingly, the most effective forms of aerobic activities are actually the types of activities that people most often do for fun.

What’s in a Workout?

For an aerobic activity to be considered effective it has to meet certain criteria. These criteria include:

  • Focuses on large muscle groups
  • Activity is maintained for a long period of time
  • Trains the cardiovascular system, including the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen throughout the body more efficiently

For an aerobic activity to be truly effective, it has to be something that you do regularly. This is why sometimes running isn’t the best go-to when you are looking for a new workout. While a great form of activity, if a running habit isn’t something that you’ll be able to maintain due to joint pain, then it isn’t worth the one day a week that you can get out onto the pavement.

Here is a quick rundown of some of the most underrated but highly effective forms of aerobic activity that you can look into as you explore your workout options:

  1. Cross Country Skiing: Winter is never too far away in Michigan, and cross country skiing is a great way to stay in shape during the colder months. Cross country skiing is different than regular skiing because you cover a lot more ground than just the slopes. Going across flat lands and even uphill requires a full body workout, but one that puts surprisingly little pressure on your knees and hips. In Rochester Hills, the Independence Oaks County Park and the Stony Creek Metropark are both great places to start out with cross country skiing.
  2. Swimming: Thanks to the buoyancy of the water, swimming is considered an ideal aerobic activity for those who have a history of joint issues or arthritis. In the water your body only weighs 10 percent of what it does on land. This means you can move faster and engage in movements in the water that might be painful on land.
  3. Cycling: This is an ideal workout for those who prefer to keep their exercising indoors, as stationary bikes deliver the same benefit as a standard bicycle that will take you outdoors. Similar to swimming and skiing, cycling reduces the pressure on your joints but engages your whole body in a workout. To be effective on the bicycle you have to engage your core to stay balanced, and then use your lower body to propel the bike forward.

If you are looking to get started with a new aerobic exercise program, any one of these three activities is a great place to start. Try engaging in one of these activities for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. This will give you a chance to let your body rest and to incorporate some light muscle training into your workout plan. Other aerobic exercises you can try out include walking, hiking, and even playing team sports in your community.

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