Bulletin board illustration with the header "Top 10 Activities to Stay in Shape"

Top 10 Activities to Stay in Shape

by Calvin Cole (Ph.D. ’16) 

1. Swimming improves your overall health. It increases your heart rate, which improves cardiovascular function, and builds muscular strength while reducing the impact other activities might place on the body. This activity is ideal for older populations.

2. Cycling uses the largest muscle group in the body and is a great way to raise your heart rate, increase cardiovascular endurance and strengthen your lower body. And because bikers are seated, they experience much less stress on their joints.

3. A weight-bearing activity, jogging forces the heart to work much harder to complete the same workload as a non-weight-bearing activity, which increases caloric expenditure exponentially.

4. Short on time? High-intensity interval training is the exercise of choice for today’s working person because it only takes 20-30 minutes to complete. This activity alternates bouts of intense exercise with short rest periods, which not only keeps your heart rate up but also increases resting energy expenditure for hours afterward.

5. Resistance training — exercises that cause the muscles to contract against an external resistance — improves long-term resting metabolism, increases day-to-day muscle functionality and improves body composition.

6. Great for athletes and aging populations, balance and agility training challenges and improves the control you have over your body.

7. Incorporate core strengthening into your routine to improve your form and breathing. Strengthening your core — which includes your abdominal muscles, back and pelvic muscles – also reduces lower back pain.

8. Flexibility training improves joint range of motion, increases blood flow and reduces the likelihood of injury during exercise or other daily activities. In addition, the resulting increases in muscle and joint flexibility reduces joint discomfort and alleviates lower back pain associated with tight muscles.

9. Yoga helps you relieve stress, unclutter your mind and get more focused. Great for all ages, it also increases core strength and flexibility.

10. Pilates improves flexibility, strength and muscle tone, particularly for your abdomen, lower back and pelvis. It also balances strength on both sides of your body and enhances muscular control of your back and limbs.

This story was originally published in the Fall/Winter 2015-16 issue of IN the College of Education & Human Development, the college’s alumni magazine.