We all hear about the different health and wellness trends — the restricted diets or the 3-phase sleeping programs or the super-powered waters. Many of these trends are little more than fads that will fade by this time next year. Some, especially the restrictive diet programs, are even dangerous to those who engage in them for too long. When it comes to wellness trends, it’s important to use common sense to make sure that you aren’t damaging your body in the long term. However, some of these “trends” are more enduring, and can be beneficial to those who practice them regularly. If you’re considering adopting a new healthy habit, read on to find out which one you can incorporate into your life to slowly encourage yourself into a more well-rounded lifestyle.
Pilates sometimes gets a reputation as an “easy” exercise, but anyone who has actually done pilates knows differently. Although there are many variations of pilates, most practices focus on slow, steady movements and emphasize flexibility, balance, and strength. Because of this, pilates can help build your body into a more holistically healthy version of itself. Pilates will not only leave your muscles burning from the workout, but the flexibility aspect can be incredibly helpful if you suffer from back pain or similar ailments.
Pilates can help restore your range of motion, particularly if your back pain is due to stress or poor posture. Regular pilates will also help build up all the small muscles that support your back, knees, and ankles. Strengthening these areas may allow you to once again participate in other forms of physical exercise that are rough on the body, such as snow skiing, hiking, and running.
Similar to pilates, yoga sometimes gets a reputation as easy, but yoga is anything but. Many professional and serious athletes practice yoga for it’s flexibility and strength training. There are many forms of yoga, but all forms will challenge your strength and your endurance, and many will leave beginners shaking from the exertion. If this intimidates you, or if your balance isn’t what it could be, most yoga studios offer courses for beginners, which you can use to step up to more intense forms of the practice.
Various yoga classes will focus on different aspects of the practice. For instance, the Zoe Cottons yoga course focuses primarily on weight loss and body toning. Other practices focus on the meditation aspect of yoga, encouraging practitioners to strengthen their inner life and find peace through yoga.
If you’re looking for something fast-paced and group-oriented, then spinning might be for you. Spinning is offered at many gyms and community centers, and typically places a fairly large group of people in the same room together with an instructor. The classes — which involve stationary cycling — tend to be intense and loud, with instructors playing upbeat music and shouting encouragement from the front of the room. Spinning can be beneficial for those looking to use exercise as an outlet for stress and frustration, or those looking for a more engaged group class. Unlike yoga and pilates classes, which tend to be quieter, spinning classes allow for people to talk with each other during class — although you probably won’t be able to catch your breath long enough to chat with your neighbor.
If your idea of a good workout is to fully exhaust yourself by the time you finish your workout, then spinning might be for you. Classes often come in a variety of intensity levels, so that you can start in a beginner class and work your way up to the more advanced classes. No matter what level of spinning class you take, the calorie burn is usually high even in a short period of time, making spinning a good option for weight loss as well.
Although spinning certainly qualifies as intense cardio, there are other forms as well. This includes the more traditional forms of exercise, such as running. However, if you’re looking for a more intense exercise than simply jogging, consider trail running. Typically, trail running involves steep hills and stairs, as well as quick footwork to avoid rocks and roots in the trail. Most trail runners are also long distance runners, which means that a single trail run can easily be 10 miles or more (although, of course, you can work your way up to that distance). Trail running is a fantastic alternative for people who already run, but find themselves bored with road running. In addition, the quick movements and turns of trail running help to build up the small muscles in the feet, knees, and hips, which can work to prevent injury in long distance runners and older individuals.
Similarly to trail running, mountain biking can be an engaging alternative to road cycling. Mountain biking is incredibly intense, and trails can range from mild to downright dangerous. Mountain biking is ideal for those who enjoy the outdoors and are looking for an activity that is engaging both physically and mentally. However, because mountain biking can also sometimes involve risky falls and accidents, it’s best to have at least one other person with you anytime you go mountain biking.
Meditation is different from the rest of the trends above in that it isn’t strictly a physical exercise. However, meditation can be life-changing for those who commit to the practice. Meditation involves focusing the mind and learning to calm your thoughts. Many first-time meditators will find it incredibly challenging, as it requires regular practice and extreme mental discipline. The practice can help reduce stress and anxiety, allowing individuals to cope more effectively with negative family or job situations. Meditation can also help with a wide variety of other mental blocks or troubles. For instance, regular meditators will find it easier to focus on work even with distractions present, and also may find it easier to deal with unexpected challenges or changes in their lives.
No matter what lifestyle choices you make, it’s important to stick with both your physical and mental exercise regimens. All of the wellness practices listed above will help improve your overall health, when engaged in regularly and reasonably — pick your favorite and start down the road to a healthier you!