These 3 Surprising Workouts Are the Best For Your Health, Says Harvard

There’s nothing like a multitasking sweat session to help us burn calories, banish stress, and clear our minds. But as Business Insider reports, not all fitness routines are created equal. A new health report released by Harvard Medical School titled “Starting to Exercise” outlined the most effective workouts that not only aid in weight loss, but also help strengthen your brain, bones, and heart.

“Research shows that just a half-hour of moderately intense exercise a day can improve your health and extend your life,” the report says. I-Min Lee, a Harvard professor and author of the study, notes that activities like long-distance running can have negative effects on your digestive system and joints. In addition to explaining the best ways to avoid injuries and use the proper breathing techniques, the research also reveals some of the most beneficial workouts for your health—and a few of them may surprise you. Read on below for three routines that help you live longer and only require 30 minutes of your time.

Walking. This activity may seem like a no-brainer, but as Business Insider reports, some studies have found that walking for at least 30 minutes at a leisurely pace can help boost your memory and reduce depression. For those who don’t exercise regularly, Harvard suggests starting off with 10- to 15-minute strolls and building up to 30- to 60-minute walks.

Tai chi. A Chinese martial and meditative art that involves a series of gentle and flowing movements, this ancient practice emphasizes deep focus and paying attention to breathing. Lee writes that tai chi is “particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness, and balance is something we lose” as we age.

Swimming. Harvard’s Healthbeat newsletter calls swimming “the perfect workout,” all thanks to its ability to work almost every muscle in your body. From protecting your brain from signs of aging to raising your heart rate, this aerobic workout also reduces potential injuries “because it’s less weight bearing,” Lee writes in a recent issue of the newsletter.

By DANIELLE DIRECTO-MESTON