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The 10 best total body exercises - and why they’re so effective

People engage in physical exercise for different reasons. The great philosopher, Plato, encouraged physical exercise to improve strength, mobility, and flexibility. Some people want to build muscle while others want to remain healthy. Yet for some people, physical exercise improves their self-esteem and perceptions towards themselves. Regardless of your reason for physical exercise, it is important to target the entire body.

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Here is a list of the best total body exercises and reasons why they are so effective:


While walking is often neglected as an effective physical exercise, it is a useful way to meet or maintain your fitness goals. Fitness experts caution people against the current status in which people remain stationary in their office desks. They encourage people to try to ensure that they spend at least two hours on their feet every day. Walking becomes a simple yet fun way to maintain this habit. Regular walking enables you to improve your mobility, flexibility, and balance. However, you should include walking alongside other intensive physical exercises if you want to meet ambitious fitness goals. Also, increase the intensity of your walks if you want to reap all the benefits of walking.


Running is possibly one of the most accessible and effective universal exercises. You do not require fancy or expensive equipment apart from proper running shoes. Running regularly will help you burn fat, build muscle, and improve the cardiovascular system. A few tweaks to a 30-minute running exercise can help target the entire body. Interval training is an excellent way to achieve a total body workout when running. Run at an average pace for 1-2 km when starting your exercise. As soon as you cross over the 2km mark, accelerate your jog into a two-minute sprint followed by a 30-second break. Resume your average pace for the next 1-2 km before embarking on another sprint with a subsequent break. Continue with this exercise for the thirty minutes of your running exercise.


Swimming is another total body workout that uses all the muscles in the body. Water exercises are more effective than the same activities on land. Whether you opt for a simple swimming exercise such as breaststroke or more complicated ones such as the hammer butterfly, swimming will work on your entire system. Ideally, you should aim to complete three thirty-minute swimming sessions every week. Incorporating a combination of strokes in your swimming will work on more muscles and improve the effectiveness of your swimming session.

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Jumping Rope

Jumping rope is a fun exercise that works on the entire body. Jumping rope strengthens your calves, quads, and jutes while engaging the shoulders, arms, and core. Also, jumping rope improves your balance, flexibility, and mobility. When starting, choose a high-quality rope that provides the length you need to jump comfortably. Aim to complete 5 rounds of a 100 jump ropes for every round with a one-minute rest between every set. Once you are comfortable with the standard jump rope, you can incorporate a weighted jump whose extra weight requires you to engage your upper body muscles more.


Cycling is a total workout that works all the major muscle groups. Both indoor and outdoor cycling allow you to target the entire body. Cycling improves your core strength as you balance on the bike and your upper body strength as you support yourself on the bike. Also, cycling works the quadriceps as you pedal and climb hills, the back as you maintain a strong and stable spine, the hamstrings as you lift the pedal, and the lower legs as you cycle. Try to take advantage of the benefits of cycling by cycling to work or cycling for three hours during the weekend.

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Sports are excellent total body exercises to meet your fitness goals. Sporting activities range from football, squash, tennis, volleyball, to basketball. Ideally, all sporting activities target all body muscles because players engage in multiple physical exercises. However, the availability of sporting activities and the time commitments make it hard choices for individuals who want to maintain an active life. Make sure to research on the available sporting activities in your area and dedicate time every week to participate.


Calisthenics refer to exercises that use body weight to maintain fitness. Calisthenics include exercises such as pullups, squats, pushups, crunches, and dips. To ensure that calisthenics work all the muscles, choose a combination of exercises that work the upper body, the core, and the lower body. Calisthenics might be challenging for beginners and you should work with trainers when beginning your fitness journey.


A gym provides a unique platform to get a total body workout. Usually, regular gym goers have structured training sessions that target different areas of the body with every workout. This should not discourage beginners because nearly all gyms employ trainers who prepare personalized training programs that are aligned with your fitness goals. Joining your local gym can be the starting point in your fitness journey.

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In recent times, yoga has emerged as a fun yet effective total body workout. Yoga includes a range of poses and exercises that work different areas of the body. Make sure to consult an expert when starting on your yoga exercises.

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Hiking is a wholesome total body exercise that offers both physical and psychological benefits. Hiking involves going up and down hills creating a great cardio workout. Hiking is also a weight-bearing exercise that builds muscle and strengthens the bones. Because a lot of hiking activities take place in the sun, they provide the body with vitamin D. Apart from physical benefits, hiking offers numerous psychological benefits. Hiking stimulates the release of chemical hormones resulting in a feeling of relaxation and improved well-being. People who complete challenging hikes improve their endurance that often translates to improved confidence in other areas of life.


When choosing the most effective total body workout, consider the accessibility of the exercises, your preferences, and your fitness goals. Remember that this list includes some of the most recommended exercises to target the entire body. However, your preferences and your fitness goals should provide the guideline when choosing an exercise. Good luck in your fitness journey!!

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