The Best Exercises to Boost Weight Loss & Prevent Injury
Obsessed with cycling? Adore weight-training? Congratulations on finding a workout you love. But if your routine is one- note, you're likely missing out on a whole symphony of benefits that other types of exercise offer. It can even be harmful. "Doing the same thing all the time can be hard on your body," says Chris Gagliardi, an American Council on Exercise-certified health coach and personal trainer. Mixing it up with a different workout a few days a week creates a well-rounded program that works all your muscles, addresses imbalances and helps prevent injury. Here, three exercise pairings that go particularly well together.
Cycling & Yoga
Yoga works wonders for flexibility and strength, but it may not get your heart pumping hard enough, says Gagliardi. So pair your practice with pedaling, which will boost your heart rate and benefit your cardiovascular system. Cycling also works your hamstrings (which many asanas don't target) and gives your upper body and back (places all those Sun Salutations do tax) a break. Try a spin class, or hit the trail or road, where you'll reap the mood-boosting benefits of nature too.
Meanwhile, yoga poses strengthen the back, core and upper body—areas that cycling tends to neglect. What's more, the deep breaths and mind-body connections provide a good balance to the blaring tunes of a spinning class, and can help you stay centered while navigating traffic on road rides.
Swimming & Plyometrics
Hitting the pool offers a total-body workout that boosts cardiovascular fitness and protects against chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. But there's one component it lacks: impact. Because of that, it doesn't help you maintain strong bones the way weight-bearing exercises like walking and running do. The ideal solution? Balance swimming with explosive moves like box jumps, skips and bounds. These exercises can be intense, so start small and then progress. For instance, practice side lunges, then work your way up to side-to-side hops.
And if weight-bearing plyo moves are already part of your regimen, make some of your leaps in the pool. There, the supportive nature of water can give joints a break. Plus, it'll help you hit your cardio targets.
Running & Strength Training
The constant pounding of shoes on pavement leaves runners at risk for overuse injuries like Achilles tendinitis and runner's knee. Doing leg and core exercises, such as squats, lunges and crunches, can reduce your risk of these ailments by making your muscles, joints and connective tissues stronger and more resilient. Add in moves to tone the upper-body muscles that running doesn't target, as well.
On the flip side, there's good reason for those who hang out near the weight rack to venture toward the treadmills, Gagliardi says. Resistance training typically doesn't get your heart rate up enough to count toward the recommended 150 weekly minutes of moderate-intensity cardio. Because running is so vigorous, you can get by with just 75 weekly minutes of huffing and puffing.
This story originally appeared in EatingWell Magazine July/August 2020.