3 ways of how to exercise effectively
1. Stop stretching before you exercise.
"We know that stretching before a workout is relatively ineffective and can actually be counterproductive by reducing power output," says Arent. Evidence shows that "static stretching" — standing still while reaching for your toes, for example — does nothing to reduce soreness or minimize injuries and plenty to negatively affect performance.
Any sudden changes to an exercise routine can be detrimental, but the vast majority of casual exercisers would be better off without static stretching.
2. Don't stop stretching altogether.
Static stretching may be outre, but so-called dynamic stretching — think butt kicks and walking lunges, where you are moving while flexing — is the new black. Limited evidence shows that it "may augment subsequent performance," and at the very least does not seem to impede it.
Plus, flexibility is a worthy goal all by itself — one of the many reasons so many people swear by yoga. For best results, save the stretching until you're done with your cardio and strength training. "A warmer muscle is a more pliable muscle," suggests Arent, and so doing it after exercise makes stretching more effective.
People use wooden dumbbells during a health promotion event to mark Japan's "Respect for the Aged Day" at a temple in Tokyo's Sugamo district, an area popular among the Japanese elderly, September 15, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino
3. Try using weights.
Cardio workouts are much more popular among Americans than muscle-strengthening activities. But people who hit the treadmill and then head home are really missing out. According to the CDC, strength training — whether pumping iron or doing other kinds of resistance training — can reduce the "signs and symptoms" of diabetes, osteoporosis, back pain, depression, and more. It also helps with balance, weight control, sleep, and bone strength — while providing many of the same benefits as a cardio workout.
Reams of research have shown the benefits of strength training in a wide range of people including athletes, children, adolescents, cancer survivors, the elderly, and the chronically ill. "Everybody should be lifting weights," says Arent. "There isn't a single part of our population that wouldn't benefit."