The Perfect Exercise
Is there such a thing as a perfect exercise?
This is much like asking for a magic pill or the perfect diet or the perfect... well, anything. Everyone is different. In fact, we are individually so unique and have such varying needs, wishes and wants, that it would be impossible to find an exercise that makes everyone both healthy and happy.
Of course, some people do swear by an exercise as being the "perfect" one for everyone. In fact, many claim that the burpee fits the criteria of being such an exercise. This is a great exercise for many people, and can be done in a myriad of variations. The burpee works the entire body, and tests have shown it is possibly more demanding on the circulatory system than cycling or running. (Acute High Altitude Exposure and Intense Burpee Exercise Performance J. Marc Beverly, MPAS, Exercise Physiology PhD Student, UNM Instructor: Christine Mermier, PhD Laboratory Procedures 18 April 2011).
The origin of this exercise is unclear; some date it back to the Revolutionary War and Lt. Thomas Burbee as a means to drill his troops, but officially it was named in the 1930’s after American psychologist Royal H. Burpee, who invented the agility and coordination Burpee test. By either story, though, this amazing exercise has been around for some time.
The Burpee is not for everyone, however. For example, should you have a herniated lumbar disc, then the burpee can and will aggravate your condition. Also, if you have a pre existing knee injury, this exercise may very well cause further damage. These are just two of many examples and situations that can be given in which this one exercise does not meet the conditions of being perfect for everyone. It is very important to understand what will help you, and what may hinder you, no matter what the experts may say on paper or what you read online. They don’t know you or your specific needs, and if they did, the advice they give for the general population may very well not be the same they would give to you!
Having said that, when I use burpees, which I do believe is an excellent exercise, I make sure to provide alternate ways of performing them, designed around the individual needs of the person. There is usually a way to make the burpee a part of your workout, but if not, leave it out; there are many other great exercises that will give you excellent results without risking bodily harm. Make it work for you.
Think of it this way; Let’s say you hate running. You went to a gym, signed up with the best trainer in the universe and that trainer put you on the treadmill to run, run, run(which the best trainer wouldn’t do, but I’m proving a point here, so stay with me). Three weeks later, do you think you would still be running on that treadmill, let alone still be working with that trainer? Most of you would not, and I don’t blame you. It’s important to find something you like to do within your fitness regiment, so that you are much more willing to stay with it. YOUR perfect exercise has to work for your body AND your mind!
I believe fitness is being in a pain-free body that makes you happy. Also, understanding that the path to fitness can come in many different exercise routines and lifestyle choices is a big part of what makes life interesting. Believe it or not; you were meant to be happy; inside and out.
This is exactly why it’s so wonderful that there is a limitless supply of exercises, activities and workouts out there, and you can absolutely find the ones that are "perfect" for you, what makes you feel good, what makes you happy, what makes you Summer-Fit.
As always, be honest with yourself, especially when keeping track of your accomplishments (you don't have to tell anyone else). Consistency is as always the key, and will set you up to win or lose. I have faith in your ability to win!