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Take 5

We ask fitness experts for their top five exercises for improving your overall health and wellbeing

Tom Dalton of TD Fitness

When more muscles engage in one movement, more calories are able to burn in your workout in a shorter amount of time. That’s why all of my chosen exercises are compound movements – they work multiple muscles at once, so they require the most effort from your entire body.

1. Lunges: legs, core and stability
When people say the word ‘lunge’ at the gym, it’s usually met with groans. It may not be your favourite exercise, but if there’s one move that can really jump-start your health efforts and target your legs and butt, it’s the lunge.

2. Squats: back, legs, core
Squats obviously help to build your leg muscles, but they also create an anabolic environment, which promotes body-wide muscle building. So squats can actually help you improve both your upper and lower body strength.

3. Deadlifts: back, glutes, hamstrings
Deadlifts are easily one of the best moves out there. In one fell swoop, a deadlift works your butt, core, legs, back, and upper body – truly the definition of a total-body move.

4. Renegade row: back, shoulders, core
Multitasking moves not only save time, they also challenge the body in new ways. Add some rowing action to your plank to target not only your arms and back, but your core and glutes, too.

5. Dumbbell push press: legs, shoulders, core
This is a multi-joint exercise that increases strength and power throughout the entire body, with an emphasis on the shoulders and triceps. The use of dumbbells improves balance and stability on each side.

Alan Williams of Alan Williams Coaching

1. Resistance training
Resistance training includes lifting weights, using resistance bands, or just using your own body weight – the best piece of equipment you own. It has benefits for everybody, regardless of age, sex or activity levels. For those working towards fitness goals, lean muscle will make you stronger, increase muscular endurance and make you a better athlete. For those looking to lose weight or get a little leaner, gaining some muscle will lead to you burning fat more efficiently. By engaging in resistance training you reduce your risk of injury, back pain and arthritis. For ideas on bodyweight resistance training include exercises such as push ups, squats, lunges and planks.

2. Cycling
All forms of cardio training will benefit you, but the reason I’ve gone for cycling is because it’s a great option for anybody with joint or knee problems. It’s low impact, which means you can work up a sweat and get a good workout in, without aggravating those joint issues. Getting on a bike is a great option in terms of improving your cardiovascular fitness, burning calories, building muscular endurance, preventing illness and disease.

3. Walking
For those needing to improve their health – but at a low fitness level – walking is the perfect option. Do what you can manage today and build it up gradually, week on week. We all live such busy lives but sometimes we forget to take the time to unwind. That’s where walking comes in. Leave the phone at home and spend some time in nature, you’ll feel like a different person afterwards. While I love walking in my downtime, I would often incorporate boxing and weight lifting into my training which, although more intense, also makes me feel great afterwards.

4. Pilates
Such a large portion of the population suffer from back pain and don’t know where to turn. Pilates is a great starting point. It’s fantastic for increasing your core strength. Building the strength in those muscles can make an amazing difference to relieving back pain. And if you’re an athlete the benefits of a strong core are endless. In addition pilates will improve your flexibility and mobility. It’s also easy on the joints.

5. Meditation
If we’re looking at overall health and wellbeing, we’ve got to look at exercises for the brain, not just the body. Meditation is one of the best things we can do to quieten the mind when life is getting busy. Making it a daily habit can have enormous benefits. Meditation will help you reduce stress and control anxiety; it can make you more self-aware and decrease blood pressure. It helps you lengthen your attention span, in an age where that seems to be getting shorter and shorter.

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