What’s the Best Workout for You?

Find the right workouts based on your health and personality. Check out these solo, duo, and group options for people with arthritis, heart problems, or obesity.

Woman doing sit-ups

No workout is going to work out for you if you don’t like it. That’s why one of the cornerstones of the approach taken by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) is for fitness professionals to get to know their clients. “Developing a rapport helps the trainer understand what’s important to them and the best ways to help them reach their goals,” says ACE exercise physiologist Jacque Crockford. ACE also emphasizes the importance of starting at the “right” point for you, which depends largely upon current health and fitness levels.

Of course, you need to get the OK from your health care team before beginning a new fitness routine and ask what modifications you should make or what moves are off-limits—especially if you’re facing any extra health challenges. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available on the exercise spectrum that appeal to all sorts of workout personalities. In addition to doing some stretching and strength training, per your doctor’s guidelines, include some cardiovascular activities like these.

What are some good exercises if I have arthritis?
“People with arthritis may want to avoid overstressing the joint, which causes further inflammation,” says Crockford, “Jumping or heavy weight-bearing activities may be discouraged, depending on the joints involved.”
On your own:
* Walking in a pool, on a treadmill, or outdoors on a flat surface
* Gentle lap swimming
With a friend:
* Indoor or outdoor cycling in easy gears
In a group:
* Taking an aquatic exercise class
* Taking a yoga, Pilates, or tai chi class

What are some good exercises if I have heart problems?
Healthy eating habits and regular physical activity can save your life. Even so: “It is very important to receive a doctor’s clearance prior to starting a new exercise program,” says Crockford of this population. Many types of exercise are open to you, but you need to watch the intensity and avoid exercising in extremes like high heat, cold, or high altitudes. Also monitor your heart rate and know what to do if there are signs of a problem.
On your own:
* Gardening and lower-intensity yard work
With a friend:
* Walking
* Gentle lap swimming
In a group:
* Taking an aquatic exercise class
* Taking a yoga (but not hot yoga) class

What are some good exercises if I’m diagnosed with obesity?
People who have an obesity diagnosis can exercise as much as those who don’t, says Crockford. “Unless they have specific joint issues or other limitations (medications that affect heart rate, for example), full-body functional movements are a great way to burn calories, improve heart function, and help them realize their own strength,” she says. Be sure to keep cardio low-impact and avoid jumping, running, and explosive moves.
On your own:
* Indoor cycling
* Using a rowing machine
With a friend:
* Boxing or sparring
* Walking or hiking
In a group:
* Taking an aquatic exercise class
* Taking a low-impact group fitness class