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The Facts About Exercise

Find out how exercise affects your sexual health.

Two people at the gym double high five each other.

Consistently incorporating exercise into your daily routine requires discipline, dedication, time, energy and effort.

It can seem difficult to make time for physical activity during busy days, but doing so regularly can benefit your physical, mental and sexual health.

Four types of exercise and physical activity

There are four main focuses of exercise and physical activity: endurance, flexibility, balance and strength. Different exercises can help you target these different fitness elements:

  • Endurance exercises include cardio workouts that get your blood pumping. They target heart health and the overall well-being of your circulatory system.
  • Flexibility and balance training can come in the form of workouts such as yoga or Pilates. This type of physical activity can improve mobility and strength.
  • Workouts that focus on strength training can help build muscle that can fortify your body against common injuries and help you keep your physical independence as you age.

Getting started

When you first get started with physical activity, focus on having fun and connecting with your body. Ease into exercise and increase the duration, intensity and frequency of workouts as time goes on.

The best way to get started is to make a plan, starting with when are you going to work out, how are you going to work out and where. Making a plan builds in some personal accountability.

Take it one workout at a time. If you do so each time and focus on regularly engaging in physical activity, your physical, mental and sexual health will benefit in the long term.

Sticking to it

If you're new to exercising and want to ensure it becomes a permanent part of your routine, prioritize consistency as you start. If you focus too much on workout intensity, you may end up exhausting yourself or making the workout unenjoyable, which can make it more difficult to continue to work out regularly.

The best strategy is to ease into it and slowly increase the duration and intensity of your workouts. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. As the habit of getting active solidifies, you can begin to challenge yourself more. Setting small, achievable goals for yourself can help keep you motivated.

You should put some thought into how you exercise, too. Find ways to make it enjoyable. For some, this may mean taking regular hikes, practicing yoga and meditation, rock climbing, going for scenic walks or jogging, whether in nature or in your neighborhood.

The more you enjoy what you do, the greater the chance you'll want to keep doing it.

Best exercises for health and weight loss

The calories burned during exercise can help a person lose weight. Yes, working out promotes weight loss, but it's important to pair it with a balanced and nutritious diet for the best results. How much weight a person can lose through physical activity is heavily influenced by other factors such as weight, overall health, age, diet and lifestyle choices.

Some of the best exercises for weight loss and overall health include the following:

Exercising your core with a side plank

Any good core workout typically includes some sort of side plank. It's a basic but impactful exercise that strengthens your core muscles and requires the activation of other important muscle groups in your body. Of course, side planks are great for working out abdominal muscles, improving your posture and stability, and reducing back pain.

Here are the three steps you need to take to do a side plank:

  1. Lift yourself from lying on your stomach on a mat into a classic plank position with your weight on your forearms. Your shoulders should be over your wrists.
  2. Choose which side you're going to plank with first. Carefully rotate your body by shifting your weight to one side, with your weight pushing down on one arm and the outside of your foot on the same side of your body.
  3. Put your free hand on the hip that is facing away from the ground or hold it in the air for an added challenge. Keep your core engaged and hold the position for anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Then switch sides.

If you want to make your side plank a little bit easier or more challenging, try holding an adapted version of the position.

How to exercise your lower abs

Exercising your lower abs can contribute to a stronger core and tone of your muscles. A lot of different core exercises will have your abs burning in no time, but to give your lower abs a thorough workout, you'll need to do some targeted exercises.

Here are some of the best workouts for your lower abs:

  • Bicycle crunches
  • Leg drops
  • Mountain climbers
  • Scissor kicks
  • Sit-ups

Taking your workout to the next level

Getting to the gym—or wherever you like to work out—is half the battle. Once you're there, you might as well do what you can to take your workout to the next level.

Here are five easy ways to get the most out of your workout:

  1. Don't skip stretching. Take five to 10 minutes to properly stretch your muscles and do a quick warm-up to get your heart pumping. It primes your body to perform its best during a workout.
  2. Come prepared. Wearing the right workout gear ensures you feel comfortable, supported and protected during a workout. Be sure to wear shoes appropriate for the activity you're doing. This is important to protect your body and prevent injury. Other workout gear—the right sports bra, compression shorts, hair ties and so on—are essential for a good workout. The more supported and comfortable you feel, the harder you can exercise in the gym.
  3. Have the right mindset. Sometimes it's easy to get to the gym and give it your all. On other days, not so much. The right mindset can go a long way. Remind yourself that consistency is key. Working out regularly is the most important thing. Even if you only walk a few laps or do a few repetitions with some weights, focus on doing it well. Doing several small workouts during the week is better for your health in the long run than doing only one or two super intense workouts.
  4. Eat well and stay hydrated. Keep a balanced and nutritious diet and stay hydrated throughout the day. Doing so gives your body the fuel you need to perform in the gym.
  5. Keep a good sleep schedule. Your body needs adequate rest to get the most out of physical activity and to recover afterward. Healthy sleep habits will give you more energy during exercise, while exercise can promote more restful sleep. It's a win-win.

How to exercise with limited mobility

If you have limited mobility, it's still possible to get quality exercise. It's just a matter of finding out what type of physical activity works best for you and your body.

Some people may do cardio with short walks or lower-impact workouts such as cycling or Pilates. Many individuals with limited mobility report that swimming or exercising in the water gives them the support they need to work out without experiencing muscle and joint discomfort.

You may benefit from booking a session with a personal trainer to get suggestions for different ways you can modify common exercises to fit your needs. If a personal trainer is not accessible to you or you want something that's more at your fingertips, you can explore videos on the internet of exercise ideas for people with mobility limitations.

Fuel your body

Giving your body the balanced and nutritious fuel it needs is important for your overall health and well-being as well as your ability to exercise effectively.

Unfortunately, exercising often goes hand in hand with extreme dieting. Do your best to ignore the hype of fad diets. Research indicates they are often harmful and lead to a "yo-yo" effect of weight loss and gain rather than sustainable change.

Focus on fueling your body with a balance of different nutrient-dense foods.


What are the 10 best exercises? 

The "best" exercises will vary from person to person depending on their preference, fitness level and mobility. That being said, here are 10 workouts that can be a good source of physical activity:

  • Aerobics
  • Body-weight training
  • Cycling
  • Free-weight training
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Pilates
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Yoga

What is the best daily exercise? 

One great exercise that is easy to incorporate into your day-to-day life is walking. Finding opportunities to get a few extra steps in throughout the day can add up. Walking can be a great low-impact cardio workout.

What are the mental health benefits of exercise? 

Exercise can improve mood and alleviate some symptoms of depression and anxiety. The chemicals released in the brain when the body exercises can result in a feeling of euphoria and tension relief and can even provide more energy.