Harvard names 5 types of exercises most of us should be doing

Thursday, October 26, 2017
The Harvard 5 are exercises most of us should try
EMBED <>More Videos

Most any kind of movement is good, but Harvard Medical School experts list five types of exercises that benefit brain and body most.

Most people think running is the best way to fire up your furnace and sizzle calories, but a new study from Harvard Medical School says you should cool off in the pool instead.

Swimming works nearly every muscle including your heart, while giving your joints a much needed break. In one study, 30-45 minutes of aerobic swimming also helped battle depression and stress.

Chinese martial artists have it right with Tai Chi. A series of slow flow movement helps us to focus and slow deep breathing patterns while helping balance, something vital yet often lost as we age. And most anyone can do it.

"Any type of movement is going to make you smarter. This is strength training, this is conditioning," said fitness pro Kathleen Trotter.

Trotter said strength training is key. Body weight workouts like push ups, lunges and squats help maintain muscle mass and keep bones strong, although weights and bands are a nice addition.

It's no surprise walking ups your fitness. Even a half hour leisurely walk can boost memory and reduce depression while increasing circulation and strength.

If you're not currently walking, Harvard recommends starting with 10 to 15 minutes a day, building up to up to an hour walk or even hike.

The final form of exercise might shock you. Kegel exercises for both men and women.

"For older men, when we hit the age of about 50, we might be dealing with those prostate issues. Incontinence, urgency frequency, erectile dysfunction and any type of pelvic floor pain," said physical therapist Christina Christie of Pelvic Solutions.

For those unfamiliar, the idea is to squeeze muscles you'd use to hold urine or even gas. Try holding a contraction for two to three seconds 10 times, repeating this protocol four to five times daily.