The 5 Most Important Exercises You Could Ever Do, According to Harvard Scientists

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Want to age well and stay healthy, strong, and in shape? Harvard scientists revealed the 5 most important exercises you could ever do to stay fit, strong, and in optimum health as you age.

Walking, jogging, sprinting, or weight lifting: which do you think is better for your health?

Nowadays, a personal trainer would be laughed out of a gym if she suggested that clients should simply walk for exercise. After all, shouldn’t we all be participating in high-intensity interval training and similar forms of exercise?

However, in a post on Harvard Health’s website from 2022, we can find numerous references to the importance of simply walking for optimal health.

Below, we’ll delve into the topic of walking for health and discuss a few other key forms of exercise that you should be including in your fitness routine.

The 5 Most Important Exercises You Could Ever Do

The 5 Most Important Exercises You Could Ever Do

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1. Walking and Physical Fitness

Taking a stroll can lead to an unbelievable number of health benefits. Let’s take a look at 5 of the top ones.

Weight Loss

You are probably already familiar with the two main components of weight loss: diet and exercise. However, walking is a particularly useful form of exercise for this purpose. 

This is because low to moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, may actually lessen the effect of genes that lead to weight gain. 

Reduced Cravings for Sugary Foods

In one study, researchers determined that a short, yet brisk walk significantly lowered cravings in participants. 

This is a key finding, as many overweight clients cite snack cravings as their biggest difficulty when trying to lose weight.

Lower Risk of Certain Cancers

Everyone has a family member or friend who has been touched by cancer. This devastating disease comes in many shapes and forms. Worst of all, we have yet to develop a definitive cure for the condition. 

That being said, researchers have found that exercise significantly reduces the risk of developing some cancers. 

Finding a cure for cancer is an important goal, but finding preventative measures, such as exercise, is equally crucial. 

Decreased Joint Pain

It may sound counterintuitive, but walking can actually decrease joint pain

The reason for this phenomenon is that exercise lubricates and strengthens joints. 

This allows for more healing and flexibility in these areas. In turn, this improvement in flexibility and lubrication often leads to less pain.

Better Immune Function

The immune system of the human body is extremely complex. In fact, we are still learning more about this complicated network every day. 

One thing we know for certain, however, is that a strong immune system almost invariably leads to better health. 

Therefore, taking steps to improve the function of the immune system is a great way to avoid getting sick!

Walking and physical activity are the perfect ways to keep the immune system strong.

Other Great Exercises for Boosting Health

There’s no doubt about it: walking is awesome for health and wellness. However, for one reason or another, walking may not be your preferred form of exercise. 

Therefore, we’ve compiled a few other options which offer similar health benefits to walking.

2. Cycling

Riding a bike affords exercisers all of the same benefits of walking, except for load-bearing through the bones. Therefore, cycling is not as effective at improving bone health as walking is. 

That being said, biking is a great option for those with severely deteriorated joints. The non-impact nature of biking makes it perfect for those with advanced joint dysfunction.

3. Rowing

Rowing has become very popular in the past few decades. Much like cycling, rowing offers a non-impact option for aerobic exercise. Better yet, rowing incorporates the whole body with every single stroke.

4. Weight Lifting

While weight lifting is not an aerobic exercise like many of the others on this list are. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an important form of exercise. 

Weight lifting improves muscle and bone strength. Additionally, weightlifting can go a long way toward improving one’s mental and emotional health as well.

5. Yoga

Thus far, we’ve discussed forms of exercise that improve strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health. 

However, we have not yet touched on the flexibility exercise. Yoga combines slow, sustained stretches with breathwork and meditation. 

As you might imagine, yoga is a great way to de-stress, while getting a great workout at the same time!

Conclusion

The main take-home point from this article is as follows:

You don’t need much to achieve a quality workout and improve your health. 

Truthfully, all you need to do is throw on a pair of shoes and go out for a brief walk every day. Your body will thank you!

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Bennett Richardson, DPT, PT, CSCS

Bennett Richardson is a physical therapist and writer out of Pittsburgh, PA. He has maintained certification as a strength and conditioning coach (CSCS) since 2014. He then went on to earn a BS in exercise science and a doctorate degree in physical therapy, both from Slippery Rock University. In his free time, Bennett likes to read and exercise.

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