You probably know that regular exercise is essential for your health. For the most part, any physical activity will be better than no physical activity, but some forms of workout are better than others.
Some common exercises can even be dangerous or counterproductive, especially if you do them incorrectly or too frequently.
Here are some of the worst and best workouts for your health:
HARMFUL: Sit-ups and Crunches
Sit-ups and crunches are often recommended to strengthen your core, but they can actually do more harm than good.
Sit-ups and crunches can put a lot of strain on your back and neck, which can lead to pain or injury. This is made worse by the repetitive motion (often performed rapidly), which causes wear and tear on your spine.
HELPFUL: Planks and Leg Lifts
For a better core workout, try planks and leg lifts instead.
With both planks and leg lifts, you’re working your core muscles without putting any unnecessary strain on your spine. This significantly reduces your risk of injury and can be much more helpful for people with back pain.
HARMFUL: Barbell Squats
Barbell squats are a common exercise for people looking to build muscle, but they can be very dangerous if not performed correctly.
Due to the heavyweights involved, there is a high risk of injury if you lose control of the barbell or collapse under the weight. Even if you perform the exercise correctly, there is still a risk of injury to your knees and lower back.
HELPFUL: Bodyweight Squats
Bodyweight squats are a safer alternative to barbell squats and can still be effective for building those same muscles.
Since you’re not using any external weight, there is significantly less risk of injury if you lose your balance or collapse. You can also perform them anywhere without any equipment, making them a great option for people who don’t have access to a gym.
For an added challenge, you can try them with one leg at a time, which will also develop your balance and stability muscles.
Plyometrics involves rapid and explosive movements. This program usually involves jumping and other high-speed, high-force, high-impact activities.
While plyometrics can be effective for developing power and explosive speed, the risk of injury is very high. You can easily pull a muscle, land awkwardly, or fracture a bone if you’re not careful.
Plyometrics is also not generally recommended for people with joint pain or other chronic injuries.
Swimming is a great exercise routine for people of all ages looking for a low-impact workout that is still effective for developing both strength and endurance.
Since you’re moving through the water, the risk of injury is much lower than with other forms of exercise. It burns many calories and works all your major muscle groups, making it a great all-around workout.
HARMFUL: Anything That Is Too Difficult or Causes Pain
Although exercise often comes with a little soreness, it shouldn’t be painful. If you notice any pinching, pulling, or shooting pain, stop the exercise immediately.
You might also want to avoid anything that is too difficult for you. If an exercise is too challenging, or if you don’t know the right way to do it, you’re more likely to get injured trying to complete it. You can almost always find another exercise that will work for the same muscle group without putting your body at risk.
Also, be aware of your own limits regarding how much you can safely lift or how long you can exercise for. Overexertion is the leading cause of exercise-related injuries.
Not all types of physical activity have to be complex, intense, repetitive, or boring. Some of the best workouts are also the most fun.
Dancing is a great way to get your heart rate up and burn some calories, all while having a blast. It’s also a great way to meet new people and socialize, which can have its own health benefits.
If dancing is not your thing, plenty of other fun activities can get you moving and improve your health, like hiking, biking, playing sports, or even going for a walk.
The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to continue doing it and continue reaping the rewards of a good heart-pumping exercise.