I’m often asked by viewers, readers, listeners, my public forum attendees for: the “best” form of exercise, and to that there’s really only one answer, to wit, the best form of exercise is the form of exercise you will actually do. So, although swimming is a terrific exercise, if you hate water like I do (loathe the stuff, either in me or to lie in it), then there’s really no point in undertaking a swimming program because you’ll quit the 2nd time you realize you have to get wet to swim.
If I had to recommend one form of exercise for a typical large population, however, I would instantly pick walking.
Walking has many benefits: it’s aerobic (or it can be), it’s easy to do anywhere (even in a hotel room or a mall), it can be done inside (on crummy weather days), it’s cheap (if you’re spending a lot on “great” runners, you’re probably wasting a lot of money) , and it’s social (it’s easy to walk with friends).
Plus, regular brisk walking has been linked to multiple health benefits, such as improved brain function, which is nicely illustrated in a study from the University of Illinois (published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience), in which researchers took 65 previously sedentary seniors and split them into two groups.
One group was told to do stretching and toning exercise, the others were put into a brisk walking group.
At the end of a year, the “toners” showed no improvement in cognitive scores (compared to when they entered the study) while the brisk walkers had significantly improved cognition scores, and had good improvements in certain measures of brain functioning that were investigated via functional MRIs.
Bottom line: walk more – it’s good for your brain.