What’s the best exercise that a female in the city can do in 2015? In short, the answer I give is… the one that you’ll keep doing! But to answer more fully and help you decide, it’s useful to perform the Active8 Assessment and consider how the proposed exercise meets these criteria.
1 – Strength
Ask yourself whether what you’re pursuing will help increase your strength? Or will it all be about cardio, or flexibility or enjoyment. Taking up darts might be good for your enjoyment, but other than one arm, how will it increase your strength. Weight baring exercises that build strength are also what’s needed for keeping your bones strong. And it’s nigh-on impossible for the average woman to end up like Arnold Schwarzenegger by doing weights, so don’t let that even be a consideration when deciding to do it or not.
Will I get stronger by doing this exercise?
2 – Suppleness
Sitting down all day (as is common now, especially in the City) will not help you in this area. It will atrophy many muscles as well as making them tighter and more prone to injury. From simple everyday tasks even!
Does the exercise I’m considering improve my suppleness?
3 – Stability
As we get older one of the things that can really cause us injury is falling. Whether that’s on a slippery or icy road, or out of the pool. Doing exercises that help improve your stability (or balance) will help with that and help bring strength (point #1) to the core and other micro-muscles in your body.
Will doing this particular exercise improve your stability.
4 – Speed
You might want to consider whether what you do will increase your speed or perhaps make you sweat. I get a totally different feeling from going for a full-on sweat inducing workout than that of a more gentle or even weight heavy one. And also as I get older, I still want to activate those fast twitch muscles that were more in abundance in my youth!
Will doing this increase your speed or make you sweat?
5 – Stamina
It’s no good being able to pick up a Mini Cooper, but not being able to run for the bus. Or getting tired walking to work or out shopping all day. You might want to consider an exercise that looks to build your cardiovascular fitness too (stamina) and help keep your heart healthy and your blood pumping.
Will I improve my stamina with this exercise?
6 – Skill
This is one many people don’t consider but does this particular exercise challenging you mentally in some way. Do you have to engage your brain and up your skill level in some way? We all need mental and physical challenges in our lives in order to grow and having them linked together is a great tactic to produce growth.
Will my skill levels be tested with this activity?
7 – Spirit
This one is important or you won’t continue. Does this exercise light your spirit? In other words – do you really enjoy it? More than that, does it help you get something more than just the physical, or indeed mental, out of it? Does it help you emotionally? Are you in touch with your greater self by doing it? You might call it spirit, or soul or you might just call it enjoyment, purpose or fulfilment. Whichever it is, don’t get too hung up on labels and just decide whether this exercise is something that light’s your fire a little.
Will this exercise fire up my spirit?
8 – Significance
How does the exercise(s) you chose fit into what you find to be significant in an exercise? What that means is identify what your values are when it comes to exercise. For that, a good approach is to say “What’s important to me in exercising?”. It might be location, progression (e.g. a belt system, gradings or qualifications), time alone, time with others, team sports, being outside, being close to work/home, being inside, being able to fit it in whenever you want, working towards a big crescendo (like a dance performance). Work out what is significant for you when it comes to exercise and see how many of the high significant values the exercise(s) you chose are met.
Does this exercise meet most of my significant values?
That’s my advice to you. Consider the above criteria from the Active8 Assessment: Strength, Suppleness, Stability, Speed, Stamina, Skill, Spirit & Significance.
You might find it difficult to find one exercise that meets all of those criteria which is why I would recommend doing a few different ones. Personally my foundational exercise is yoga complimented with Cross-Fit, bodyweight exercises, rebounding, swimming, cycling and walking. Across them all I get my needs met. You might disagree with the list and think that they aren’t all important to you, and that’s ok too. Picking exercises that meet most of those will a) be better for your body long term and b) means you’re more likely to stick to it. Especially if your spirit and significance criteria are met. Have a great start to 2015 and enjoy whatever you chose to pursue.
Hari Kalymnios is a coach, author, speaker and trainer. Having worked in corporate London for many years, Hari sought another path and started on a path of personal improvement studying everything from personal development, science and nutrition to spirituality, business and neuro-linguistic programming! He found that he could integrate the learning of all these areas and more, with his other passions of health, fitness and exercise in general. Hari loves sharing his skills and knowledge with others through his book, courses, speaking and coaching and firmly believes that if you “train the mind, the rest will follow”.