The Best Exercise For Weight Loss, Disease Prevention + Overall Health
What is the best exercise for weight loss, disease management, and overall health? The answer may surprise you!
Friends and clients frequently ask me:
“What’s the best exercise for _____?”
Whether it be weight loss, disease management, or overall health, my answer is always the same: whichever exercise you enjoy!
All exercise burns calories, builds muscle, increases cardiovascular capacity, and improves overall health and fitness. Sure, some types of exercise are more cardio-focused and some are clearly better for muscle-building, but at the end of the day, the minute differences between them don’t matter if you’re not going to stick to them.
And if you’re not exercising for both health and enjoyment, you’re never going to stick with it.
Back in college, when I first became interested in exercise outside of sports, I would do the elliptical for 45 minutes about 2-3 times a week.
Those were the least pleasurable hours of my week.
Cardio for the sake of cardio is my least favorite activity — compound that with being stationary, in a gym, staring at a tiny screen (unless, of course, you’re watching my videos at LA Fitness ;) ). If I weren’t breathing so hard, I’d probably fall asleep out of boredom.
I wasn’t exercising for enjoyment at that time in my life, I was exercising to lose weight. Every minute in the gym was punishment, not pleasure.
Fast forward to today, and I exercise 5-6 times a week and I love every second of it. What changed? My outlook.
I now exercise because I love the way it makes me feel.
When my focus switched to using movement to feel good instead of worrying about which form of exercise would push me past the 500 calorie mark on my FitBit, something incredible happened. I began to enjoy it more…which made me do it more often…which in turn, helped me reach my health and fitness goals.
In science, we call that a positive feedback loop!
In college, exercising was always a struggle. My thoughts went something like this: “I should go to the gym. I should run on the treadmill because cardio is best for weight loss. I shouldn’t do yoga because it doesn’t burn enough calories.” These negative thoughts created a constant love-hate relationship with exercise.
Now my thought process sounds more like this, “What do I want to do today? What type of exercise will make me feel my best? What is my body asking for today?”
This results in answers like a sweaty yoga flow, Pilates, a hike with Mr. Chow, a jog around my neighborhood, a game of beach volleyball with friends, dance-cardio, a fun, fast-paced circuit class.
Sure, I still go to the gym and hit the treadmill or the elliptical every once in a while, but never because I feel like I should.
I’ve become an endorphin-junkie and the happy hormones my body produces when I exercise are what keep me sane.
Exercise has so many benefits outside of weight loss. Here are just a few:
- Reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Improves sleep quality
- Helps alleviate chronic pain
- Protects against cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease
- Helps in the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of chronic diseases
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to try almost every type of workout imaginable from the top trainers nationwide at the Propel Fitness Festival, and I must say, I was in my element.
As I mentioned, I love mixing up my exercise routine based on how I’m feeling. Getting to try so many different types of workouts and ways to move my body was a blast.
Some of the highlights from the weekend:
- Getting my “om” on with Playlist Yoga‘s Katie Keefe and Shayla Quinn while Aluna George serenaded us (while impressively holding a Figure 4 Pose I might add) to “I’m in Control.”
- Perfecting my one two punch with Prevail while getting down to “Ms. Jackson” with Outkast’s Big Boi.
- Trying dance moves I’d never heard of before like the, “Which Subway Seat Should I Take,” with the hilarious and exuberant Nicole Winhoffer
- Doing a HIIT workout with one of my favorite trainers, Gunnar Peterson, while ogling his client, Scandal’s Scott Foley, and dance-lunging (it’s a thing) to beats by Samantha Ronson
- Squat-jumping with Harley Pasternak for 90-seconds straight right next to Pretty Little Liar‘s Shay Mitchell (that’s me hiding behind Shay’s head)
- Battle-roping with my boy Gideon Akande during his Get Fit With Giddy circuit workout
- Indulging in a much-needed meditative flow sesh with the lovely Heather Lilleston of Yoga for Bad People
Some would deem this much exercise in a 48-hour period to be a bit excessive — but when you’re having as much fun as I was, you don’t want to stop. Luckily, the trainers were pros and let everyone take the workouts at their own pace.
Again, the focus was on pleasure, not pain.
I made sure to properly fuel beforehand and stayed hydrated by replenishing my fluid and electrolytes with Propel throughout the day to make up for a massive amount of sweating. Note: Propel is the only water with enough electrolytes to replace what is lost in sweat.
A major thank you to Propel and all of the incredible trainers who participated in the fitness festival. If you’re in the LA, New York, or Chicago area, I highly recommend you check out one of their classes.
If not, find a workout (or way to move your body) in your area that works for you. It doesn’t have to be in a gym or studio. Anything that gets you moving and that you actually like is beneficial for your health.
At the end of the day, fitness should be fun — enjoy, friends!
Weigh In: What’s the best exercise for you?!
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Photo credits: Jessica Nash, Michael Simon, Mark Hunter, and Propel
*This post is sponsored by Propel but all opinions are my own.