What Exercise Should I Be Doing?

written by Angie Bruce


Should I be doing Pilates?  I’ve been told my core is weak.  

I can’t run anymore.  I’m worried about my knee pain.


People frequently ask me to tell them what is the perfect exercise.  Generally my advice about exercise is very simple.  Choose the exercise that you will actually get out of bed and do.  

Recognise you might have a competitive spirit, so find a team sport, or use STRAVA to compete online with your friends.  You might need others to work with to help keep you motivated, so group exercise is fantastic for that.  You might have very limited time, well walking out the door and running might be better.  You love swimming but hate what it does to your hair, so it’s probably not worth pursuing.  


I used to love cycling but I can’t find the time anymore with kids.

I know I've used this excuse but what better way to show kids that it’s essential to find time for exercise in their own lives.  And of course, it’s really good for them too.  Psychologists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studied how exercise affects the actual shape and function of children's brains.  They found that fit children scored better in a series of cognitive challenges (1).


My low back grumbles every time I start back at the gym, so I think I might be damaging it.

If your low back grumbles at the gym, it’s probably just in shock and you might need some advice about how to pace back in.  Remember a whole lot of sitting has happened to your body since you stopped moving at twenty-three.  An osteopath can provide you with advice and reassure you about how to start back safely in your chosen activity.


Is walking enough?

Apart from a few pockets of the population, like those at risk of osteoporosis, walking is generally enough.  Half an hour, four times per week.  Spring is in the air, the days are getting longer and it should be enticing to get outside.  

I love walking and often listen to podcasts (or silence with noise cancelling headphones but that’s another BLOG) instead of the cars, sirens, helicopters and coffee machines around the streets of Fairfield and Northcote.  But I also really like pushing heavy things around and I’m motivated by working out with other humans.  So Crossfit has sparked an interest and the trainers at Charge Crossfit are helping me push myself, as I’m not one to do that alone.  


The Benefits of Exercise

Exercise should make you feel good, build muscle and improve your cardiovascular system but the benefits are so ridiculously, overwhelmingly good that if I tell you all the benefits, you’ll become skeptical and stop reading (2).  

Oh to hell with it, read this:

  • Boosts energy (3)
  • Controls weight (4) 
  • Reduces pain (5) 
  • Improves mood
  • Improves sleep
  • Decreases anxiety 
  • Improves coping mechanisms and reduces stress (6)

If you're still not convinced.

I love this youtube video called the 23 and 1/2 hour day.  



And in answer to whether you should do Pilates.  If you enjoy it, do it, but stop worrying about your core.  As long as your guts aren’t falling out of your body, then your core is fine.  


(1)  Chaddock L1, Erickson KI, Prakash RS, VanPatter M, Voss MW, Pontifex MB, Raine LB, Hillman CH, Kramer AF.Dev Neurosci. 2010 Aug;32(3):249-56. doi: 10.1159/000316648. Epub 2010 Aug 6.  Basal ganglia volume is associated with aerobic fitness in preadolescent children. 

(2)  Carlson and Shu. When Three Charms But Four Alarms: Identifying the Optimal Number of Claims in Persuasion Settings. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2277117 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2277117

(3)  University of Georgia. "Regular Exercise Plays A Consistent And Significant Role In Reducing Fatigue." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2006. 

(4)  Franz MJ, VanWormer JJ, Crain AL, Boucher JL, Histon T, Caplan W, et al. Weight-loss outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of weight-loss clinical trials with a minimum 1-year follow-up. J Am Diet Assoc 2007;107:1755–67. Search PubMed

(5)  Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 14 (2011) 4–9 Review.  A review of the clinical evidence for exercise in osteoarthritis of the hip and knee Kim L. Bennell ∗, Rana S. Hinman

(6)  Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2004; 6(3): 104–111. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. Lynette L. Craft, Ph.D. and Frank M. Perna, Ed.D., Ph.D.

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