Top 10 exercises for body and mind benefits
Here are our top 10 exercises to give you all the physical and mental benefits that regular physical activity has to offer.
Firms and tones the major muscle groups in your thighs, calves and buttocks. The hills and uneven terrain adds intensity which accelerates kilojoule and fat burning.
Spending time in bushlands and national parks with trees, water, sunshine and bird life can all have a calming effect, helping to ease stress.
2. Stand up paddling
The paddling motion strengthens the upper body muscles, and is especially good at targeting the abdominal core.
The regular swapping of paddling sides reduces the physical intensity, and makes it a more relaxing workout. Whether you are on a lake or the ocean, take in the scenery and feel your worries melt away.
Improves cardiovascular fitness and all-over muscle tone without impact on the joints. Include fast laps and intervals to maximise fat burning.
The rhythmic movement and focus on breathing can be quite hypnotic, helping to drown out stressful thoughts. Exercising in water can also trigger a unique feeling of refreshment and vitality afterwards.
A light form of activity that develops muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness. Perform each gardening task vigorously to maximise fat and kilojoule burning.
Gardening has a calming effect which helps to relieve tension and distract your mind of other worries. The exposure to fresh air and natural sunlight can also elevate mood. You can almost think of it as "ecotherapy".
A gentle-on-your-joints activity that tones your thighs, calf and buttocks while burning fat and kilojoules. Duration and intensity can be adjusted to suit all ages and fitness levels.
The rhythmic movement can distract your mind from cares or worries, while you take in more sights and scenery than virtually any other type of exercise.
A fun and social activity, tennis offers a good, whole body workout
. The unique lateral movements target the inner and outer thigh more than most other activities.
A good stress reliever. Smashing that little green ball all around the court offers a good outlet for any pent up anger and frustration.
A diverse series of movements and poses designed to stretch and strengthen the whole body. Look for the types of yoga
that focus more on stretching to boost flexibility.
The movements in yoga are slow, calm and controlled. It is the ultimate mind body exercise, with the focus on breathing and posture giving it meditative-style qualities.
8. Tai chi
is a form of martial arts where actions are performed in slow motion, gently working the body through its full range of motion. Good for strength, flexibility and circulation.
The inner focus on deep breathing, balance, form and movement control makes Tai Chi world renowned for its calming influence on the mind.
is an intense activity for lower body toning, cardiovascular endurance and significant fat burning. The impact is also good for bone density and strength.
Extended training runs can trigger those feelings of pleasantness, stress reduction, mood elevation and inner harmony that are known as "the runner’s high".
10. Resistance training
Using various forms of resistance such as body weight or dumbbells, strength training
is the best way to develop muscular strength, power and tone. It’s also great for flexibility and fat burning.
A stronger body and improved energy levels may help to improve general self-esteem and physical self-
If you’re looking for exercises that have benefits for the body and mind that are less focused on physical activity, the mind-body connection and meditation could be worth exploring.
The mind-body connection is about using your thoughts to positively influence your body’s physical responses. For instance, imagine you’re lying poolside on a holiday and you’re likely to feel your body relax. On the other hand, picture the kids screaming or work piling up on your desk, and you may feel your heart beat faster and might even sweat a little.
Many people feel generally calmer during and after mind-body exercises, and research suggests that the benefits extend to important physical benefits, such as reduction in blood pressure and stress levels.
Mind-body exercises include meditation, relaxation exercises, breathing activities and guided imagery. Try our 5 easy ways to relax and find your calm
What's your number one exercise for the body and mind? Tell us in the comments section below!
is a health, fitness and nutrition consultant from Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Having worked with clients as a personal trainer and weight-loss coach, Andrew has also authored 10 weight loss books , writes for various media outlets and has featured on regular radio spots.