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For so many years, I based all my exercise choices on what burned the most calories. HIIT, running, cycling; these were my staples. I used them to "earn" my food, or to atone for having eaten something "I wasn't supposed to." I was obsessed with working my body smaller, smaller, smaller, yet somehow never small enough. I habitually did two a days, doing a weightlifting workout and also some type of cardio, because just weightlifting didn't burn enough calories for me. When I started to make the shift to intuitive eating and body positive fitness, I began learning about joyful movement, and I have come to this conclusion:
The best kind of exercise is the kind you enjoy.
This might sound unexpected coming from a fitness instructor, but all of your exercise doesn't need to come from designated workouts or fitness activities. Gardening, home repairs, biking with kids, cleaning; these activities all provide your body with exercise.
The general recommendation is that you should get some cardio work and also some resistance training. Cardio training will help you develop a healthy cardiopulmonary system, a heart that works efficiently, and lungs that function to optimally supply oxygen to your body. Resistance training helps develop strong muscles and bones, reducing your risk for osteoporosis, fractures, and other musculoskeletal injuries. Given the recommendation that you should do some of both of these types of training, how do you go about that?
This is where you have so many options! If you aren't sure, I really encourage you to try different things out. Sometimes, I've tried a new type of class and been surprised that I actually loved it. If you're a little uncertain, it can be helpful to try a few times. When I was obsessed with weight loss, I avoided yoga because it didn't burn enough calories. When I finally tried yoga, it took trying several times for some of the poses to start to click and to actually get into a flow and enjoy it. I fell in love with heavy lifting when I was working with a trainer who started programming me for heavy lifts. Before that, I was afraid of the weight section of the gym; I felt like I didn't know what I was doing there. I still love HIIT, and I love the challenge of it, but if that's not your thing, there are other ways to get a good cardio workout in.
Bottom line here is to find workouts you like to do, and try to get a mix of cardio and resistance training. Sometimes, just having the right friends to workout with makes all the difference! Move your body in ways that make you feel good, and you'll want to keep coming back to it.