Amid the mind-boggling array of exercise options available—from trendy to classic, hard-core to gentle, and everything in between—the only thing more difficult than actually sticking to a workout plan is figuring out which exercise to do. Ultimately, the right workout depends on your personal preferences, existing physical ability, and the advice given to you by your doctor. With those general guidelines in mind, there are a few specifics to consider.

Do you like to sweat?

Exercise regimes run from very athletic, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that involves short, intense bursts of activity followed by a period of slower-paced exercise, to more gentle types, such as relaxing forms of yoga.

Sweating is generally good for the body. It means your circulatory system is working, pushing blood and oxygen to all the corners of your body. However, not everybody likes to leave a workout drenched, and that’s perfectly fine. You can still get enough exercise without exuding moisture from your pores. More gentle forms of exercise include water aerobics, walking, and bicycling. Pick up the pace by running, playing tennis, or hiking.

Team player or lone wolf?

Some people look to workouts as a social event. You could sign up for an adult league basketball or volleyball team, or make new friends at your local gym’s racquetball court. The social aspect of working out might keep you coming back for more.

Alternatively, you might like to fly solo—just you, the elliptical, and your headphones. Whatever makes you happy is the exercise to do. Some exercises offer the best of both worlds. Exercises classes featuring Zumba, boot camps, or other cardio activities typically involve large groups of people, but only involve interaction if you’d like it.

How experienced are you?

Some people injure more easily, and would not make good candidates for say, CrossFit, which involves extreme physical strength building. If you like a hearty workout and are ready for it, a more intense exercise might be for you. If, on the other hand, you have joints to protect and you’d rather not risk injury, try a lower impact activity such as swimming, hiking, yoga, or Pilates.

The boredom factor

Some people love running, blissfully feeling each foot hit the pavement, hearing the noise of the wind rushing past, with their mind quieted into a near-meditative state. Other people find themselves looking at their watch every five minutes to see how much time has passed. The type of exercise that captivates your attention will depend on your interest, mood, and athletic goals. The best way to create and stick to a workout routine is to find a type of exercise that captivates you. With the right type of workout, the hour or so spent doing that activity can become the highlight of your day.

For every person, that looks different, and the best way to find the exercise you adore is to try everything until something sticks.

What’s your favorite workout? 

Image by Ali Samieivafa via Flickr


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