For me exercise comes with an amazing range of health benefits, which I have written about here before. I also use exercise as a form to manage my anxiety. However, every time I go for a run – and sincerely this does not happen overtly often – it appears as if people think it is the greatest thing in the world. Far more “superior” than any other form of exercise I might be doing.
On top of that, the other day I had a conversation with a colleague who told me that he wants to go running but finds he is having a hard time doing so. Basically, in his mind, he is running the marathon but in real life, the clothes lie untouched in the cupboard every day resulting in less (or no) movement. Pair that with likely some “guilty” feelings about not exercising, which – let’s face it – are not helping anyone. It feels like in our minds there is a “superior” exercise. And said exercise appears to have been labelled JOGGING. But – let me debunk this and give you some options as to how you can bring more movement into your life 😉.
Is There a “Superior” Exercise?
I will debunk this straight away – no. There is no superior exercise or superior way to exercise – even though the diet industry and the “fitspo” industry have told us jogging appears to be the one great exercise for years and years and years. Every exercise style/type has a different purpose. And luckily, we have advanced from thinking jogging is the ultimate cure. I will dive into this in more detail now.
Jogging Or Cardio Exercise
So, jogging or other forms of cardio exercise are good for us. Why? Regular cardiovascular exercise has been shown to increase your resting blood pressure and heart rate levels. Therefore, your heart does not need to work as hard for you whilst you are not exercising. It knows how to exert itself a little bit and when at rest continues to be calmer altogether. This in itself is a pretty cool feature. But jogging is not the only way how you can achieve this. You can garden, dance around the house, kickbox, jump on a trampoline, walk, swim, hike, or do high-intensity interval training – the options are endless and they all achieve the same or a similar goal. Without the need to putting on running shoes and starting to hit the pavement. Where is the difference to strength training then?
When we strength train, we build muscle mass, strength, and endurance. You can strength train with your body weight, free weights, resistance bands, or other suspension equipment. The idea is to build muscle mass. This, in turn, decreases your risk of injury and can promote both flexibility and mobility. In women, strength training has also been found to be particularly useful to prevent osteoporosis when we age.
But – when you are using your muscles (especially the ones that are in our lower body, because they contain some fairly large muscle groups), you are also working in a cardiovascular way and exerting your heart. So you are basically getting two bangs for your buck. In addition, exerting your muscles and making them grow “burns” much longer within your body than when simply doing cardiovascular activities by themselves. When your strength training is vigorous or even combined with high intensity intervals there is also one further effect: EPOC. Excessive postexercise oxygen consumption. In essence, it means that your body is working a lot harder to replace oxygen in our bodies and your metabolic rate is higher. This effect can last for up to 24 hours after said exercise.
Or in other words: Have you ever stepped into the shower after a workout and were still sweating by the end of the shower. I have. That is also EPOC.
What is the Take-Away From This Post?
There are several things that I wanted to bring across with this post. So, in no particular order 😉… I continue to strongly believe in the value of exercise. No matter which forms, all exercise is great for us as human beings. It is how we moved a lot more in ancient times and it is part of our DNA. Too much of a sedentary lifestyle is simply not good for us. Exercise has been shown to increase our durability, increase our heart strength, supports our immune system, and reduce health risks such as high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. On a personal note, I can also not stress enough the benefits that it can bring to your mental health.
The best exercise for you is the one you are actually doing
Having said that, there is not one exercise “superior” or better than another. Whereas experts recommend a mixture of strength training and cardiovascular based activities, the best exercise you can do for yourself is THE ONE YOU ARE ACTUALLY DOING. So, I encourage you to find something that brings you joy and is fun. Because this is the exercise you will likely stick to. The one that you do not dread doing. And hey – if you love running by all means – run. Personally, it is not very “me” (I am just so easily bored with running), which is the reason why I do not do it super often unless I truly want to and am in the mood for a run.
Why is “jogging” still so much in peoples’ minds though? I was not able to find research on this, but I presume this was something that people thought of as “healthy” very early on when nutrition, fitness, and healthier living came on the radar. It is just a concept that has been stuck in our heads – such as the BMI, for example. But please do not forget that science and research in these particular fields advance all the time and it will likely change again going forward. So, do what feels good and right for you and what you enjoy. Life is else, simply too short 💚.