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Coming Back For More: Choosing the Perfect Workout

Updated on March 29, 2010
Workouts include traditional fare like running and aerobics, but less standard options such as hula hooping can deliver equivalent results as well as a hefty dose of fun.
Workouts include traditional fare like running and aerobics, but less standard options such as hula hooping can deliver equivalent results as well as a hefty dose of fun.

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What type of workout do you find it easiest to stick with for the long haul?

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Impact, length, intensity, style, equipment required -- all of these factor into the equation whose answer, when solved correctly, hits the fitness sweet spot. When it comes to choosing the right workout, there are a number of elements to consider to ensure the perfect fit. However, one requirement trumps all of the variables imaginable. The perfect, can’t-miss, one-in-a-million sweat session is one that you’re going to do, and keep doing.

Fitness and weight loss are worth billions of dollars. Companies work hard to lure would-be athletes and bulge-battlers into their respective camps, claiming to have the cure-all piece of equipment, fitness system, or mantra that will result in instantaneous and effortless weight loss. We all want to believe these claims, to achieve a svelte six-pack in seven days or less. Of course, we also know that such grand possibilities are usually too good to be true. How, then, can we successfully navigate the voluminous mess of workout options we find ourselves mired in? Keep it simple and pick something that you enjoy, then -- and this is the key -- do it.

It’s true that a daily diet of six miles run at a swift clip followed by some serious weight lifting and then a good steam room session is probably going to yield results faster than a zippy power walk during your lunch break. However, are you going to stick with the grueling run-and-lift regime? If so, enjoy and good luck (and do remember to take a rest day now and then, please). For the average exerciser, though, such an intense and time-consuming workout rates anywhere from daunting to downright ridiculous. So while running might trump a midday stroll in terms of calories burned, the walk wins if you stick with it while you would skip out on the run.

What, then, are the fitness options? The list can seem endless. For those with a fitness club membership, workouts might include anything from a solid 30 minutes on one of the cardio machines (elliptical, treadmill, stationary bike, and so forth) to taking a class in step aerobics, yoga, spinning, water aerobics, kick-boxing, and more. Check your gym’s information desk for more details on what what is available. Keep an eye out for less traditional fare like a fun Zumba dance session or new power barre class.

Fitness isn't relegated to the gym, however. There are a wide variety of quality workout DVDs on the market, incorporating of anything from interval training to belly dancing to strength training. Investigate offerings from Jillian Michaels, Kendall Hogan, and Michelle Dozois for a super-sweaty time.  For those looking for a less intense or lower impact option, don’t overlook dance fitness DVDs or yoga and pilates titles.

If all of that sounds like drudgery, don’t worry -- you don’t need to slog through a 60 minute fitness DVD or spin class to get a good workout. Go for a walk around the neighborhood, hike nearby trails, join an intramural sports team, or bike instead of drive. Hold a private dance party in your living room and rock out to your favorite tunes. If you play video games, try out one of the many fitness titles available for the Nintendo Wii, such as EA Sports Active. Explore new forms of movement with hula hooping, rebounding (jumping on a trampoline), or tai chi.  Housework, lawn mowing, and gardening also work up quite the sweat with the added satisfaction of efficiently multi-tasking.  There are so many enjoyable nontraditional fitness options that you may yourself spontaneously working out. 

If you keep workouts fun and nourish your mind as well your body, you will achieve your fitness goals. More importantly, however, you will enjoy doing it. There is no one perfect workout, despite what the commercial fitness industry might like you to think. There is, however, a simple formula which, when followed, ensures sweaty success: find a workout that you like, do it, and keep doing it.

Hula Hoop For Fitness

Instense Sweat-at-Home DVDs

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