What are the best exercises?

Tough ChoiceThe world we live in is not Black and White.  There are often areas of gray (or grey…see what I mean).  Sure, there are some things that are seemingly “either or” situations, but most are not.  We all say we understand and accept that, but we still operationally fall into a rut of this or that thinking.  We often look at fitness, exercise or even rehab in the same way.  We ask the question, “Which is better, Exercise A or Exercise B?”  This makes an assumption that we are all at the same fitness, mobility, strength, balance or even body awareness levels.  Beyond that, we also assume we are all coming to the table on equal footing.  As I have discussed before, we are cumulative beings.  We are the result of a lifetime of input into our bodies:  postural habits, prior injuries, good/bad training or fitness routines, daily demands of our jobs or simply that our body types, age, gender and musculoskeletal structures are not the same.  ALL of these factors effect how we move and can alter our foundational movement patterns.

So, we should focus our efforts on asking the right questions, NOT just the available exercise choices.  We need to change from asking what is better, and understand that any definitive answer to this line of questioning is simply insufficient.  Everyone wants direct answers and they would like it to match what they already think they know and like.  In other words, whether you love running, Zumba, weight lifting, Yoga, Cross Fit or any other fitness avenue, how do you know what is the best?  They all have merit, but what direction should you chose? The answer.  Whatever makes you happy…once you establish or re-establish a solid baseline, of course.

Toddlers WalkingAh, baseline.  Foundation.  The starting point.  How do we establish a baseline?  THAT is the question we should be asking.  Not to get too hokey, but we all follow a well-documented path to developing movement.  We move from infants to toddlers to children who move effectively and efficiently.  Rolling, rocking on hands and knees, crawling, kneeling, standing, cruising, walking, running…these are the basics of our development.   Once we master the basics, we use this motor control and body awareness to pursue activities that suit our interests.  What do not do well is maintain the basics.

Our body craves motion and authentic movement.  I have already posted about these movement concepts in prior posts, but they are so important.  Unfortunately, the fitness industry promotes compartmentalized concepts: flexibility, core work, strength, endurance, tone, fat loss, etc.  Why do we separate these attributes?  When we play or participate in athletics, we don’t separate these, we synthesize them.  The only purpose for breaking them down is so we can better wrap our minds around trying to analyze them.  While that has value, it is just not sufficient to describe human movement and its capabilities.  We don’t have any business getting ourselves into a fitness routine before we move well.  So, my ultimate answer to “what is the best exercise”…whatever allows you to move comprehensively, improve your overall wellness, and is something you enjoy.