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Why there is NO such thing as “THE BEST” Exercise!

 Why There’s No Such Thing as “THE BEST” Exercise

Over the years as a Physical Therapist and a Certified Personal Trainer I have routinely been asked the following question: “What is the best exercise I should be doing?”

My answer is always the same: There is no such thing as “the best” exercise.

It is more important that my clients/patients understand the truths about exercise that are rooted in factual and practical science-based information, as opposed to extremes and absolutes.

Here are three important factors to keep in mind that shed some light on why there’s no such thing as “the best” exercise.

The Enjoyment Factor

From a behavioral perspective, it’s important that movement, in whatever form it is explored, be enjoyable. The more people enjoy the exercise experience, the more likely they are to make physical activity an integral component of their lives, which is ultimately what has the greatest impact on their health and well-being. As such, I would argue that one of the most important, yet sometimes overlooked, aspects that as health and fitness professionals we must consider this when exploring exercise options is to choose forms of movement that resonate with the individuals we serve, and that truly support their overall enjoyment and success in the exercise experience.

The Unique Needs of Individuals

Exercises must be safe and effective for our clients and participants. As such, we as health and fitness professionals must have a thorough understanding of the body and how it’s designed to move, from the foundational aspects of joint stability and mobility and an understanding of the interconnectedness of the body as a kinetic chain; to the primary movement patterns we explore both inside and outside of the gym, and the ways in which we add load and variability to movements using an assortment of tools and techniques to improve the health- and skill-related components of fitness.

The Context of Research Studies
Too often, we point to the conclusion of a research study as the basis for justifying our decision to always include a certain exercise in our daily routines.  For example, body-weight dips may be an effective exercise for eliciting muscle activity in the triceps, but for a client with instability in the scapulothoracic thoracic region, the potential for injury might outweigh the potential pros of the exercise. It is important to always look at an individual’s unique needs, goals, interests and limitations of the individuals we serve to effectively evaluate the pros and cons of the movement itself, and to ultimately determine how the findings of the research apply to our unique clients and participants.

While there are many great exercises and movements out there (and also some not so great ones), and certainly ones that may be more effective than others, at the end of the day there is no single “best” exercise that is perfect for everyone in the same exact form. There is no cookie cutter exercise plan or one size fits all rehabilitation program.

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