The Best Exercise For Weight Loss, Disease Prevention + Overall Health

What is the best exercise for weight loss, disease management, and overall health? The answer may surprise you!

best exercise - crunches

Friends and clients frequently ask me:

“What’s the best exercise for _____?”

Whether it be weight loss, disease management, or overall health, my answer is always the same: whichever exercise you enjoy!

All exercise burns calories, builds muscle, increases cardiovascular capacity, and improves overall health and fitness. Sure, some types of exercise are more cardio-focused and some are clearly better for muscle-building, but at the end of the day, the minute differences between them don’t matter if you’re not going to stick to them.

And if you’re not exercising for both health and enjoyment, you’re never going to stick with it.

the best exercise whitney english

Back in college, when I first became interested in exercise outside of sports, I would do the elliptical for 45 minutes about 2-3 times a week.

Those were the least pleasurable hours of my week.

Cardio for the sake of cardio is my least favorite activity — compound that with being stationary, in a gym, staring at a tiny screen (unless, of course, you’re watching my videos at LA Fitness 😉 ). If I weren’t breathing so hard, I’d probably fall asleep out of boredom.

I wasn’t exercising for enjoyment at that time in my life, I was exercising to lose weight. Every minute in the gym was punishment, not pleasure.

Fast forward to today, and I exercise 5-6 times a week and I love every second of it. What changed? My outlook.

I now exercise because I love the way it makes me feel.

whitney english boxing

When my focus switched to using movement to feel good instead of worrying about which form of exercise would push me past the 500 calorie mark on my FitBit, something incredible happened. I began to enjoy it more…which made me do it more often…which in turn, helped me reach my health and fitness goals.

In science, we call that a positive feedback loop!

In college, exercising was always a struggle. My thoughts went something like this: “I should go to the gym. I should run on the treadmill because cardio is best for weight loss. I shouldn’t do yoga because it doesn’t burn enough calories.” These negative thoughts created a constant love-hate relationship with exercise.

Now my thought process sounds more like this, “What do I want to do today? What type of exercise will make me feel my best? What is my body asking for today?”

This results in answers like a sweaty yoga flow, Pilates, a hike with Mr. Chow, a jog around my neighborhood, a game of beach volleyball with friends, dance-cardio, a fun, fast-paced circuit class.

whitney english yoga

Sure, I still go to the gym and hit the treadmill or the elliptical every once in a while, but never because I feel like I should.

I’ve become an endorphin-junkie and the happy hormones my body produces when I exercise are what keep me sane.

the best exercise for health

Exercise has so many benefits outside of weight loss. Here are just a few:

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to try almost every type of workout imaginable from the top trainers nationwide at the Propel Fitness Festival, and I must say, I was in my element.

handstand - the best exercise

Outfit details: Leggings + Sports Bra by Lorna Jane

As I mentioned, I love mixing up my exercise routine based on how I’m feeling. Getting to try so many different types of workouts and ways to move my body was a blast.

Some of the highlights from the weekend:

aluna george propel fitness festival

Propel x Prevail Boxing Featuring BigBoi_Jessica Nash Photography3

  • Trying dance moves I’d never heard of before like the, “Which Subway Seat Should I Take,” with the hilarious and exuberant Nicole Winhoffer
  • Doing a HIIT workout with one of my favorite trainers, Gunnar Peterson, while ogling his client, Scandal’s Scott Foley, and dance-lunging (it’s a thing) to beats by Samantha Ronson
  • Squat-jumping with Harley Pasternak for 90-seconds straight right next to Pretty Little Liar‘s Shay Mitchell (that’s me hiding behind Shay’s head)

  • Battle-roping with my boy Gideon Akande during his Get Fit With Giddy circuit workout
  • Indulging in a much-needed meditative flow sesh with the lovely Heather Lilleston of Yoga for Bad People

Some would deem this much exercise in a 48-hour period to be a bit excessive — but when you’re having as much fun as I was, you don’t want to stop. Luckily, the trainers were pros and let everyone take the workouts at their own pace.

yoga propel fitness festival

Again, the focus was on pleasure, not pain.

I made sure to properly fuel beforehand and stayed hydrated by replenishing my fluid and electrolytes with Propel throughout the day to make up for a massive amount of sweating. Note: Propel is the only water with enough electrolytes to replace what is lost in sweat.

A major thank you to Propel and all of the incredible trainers who participated in the fitness festival. If you’re in the LA, New York, or Chicago area, I highly recommend you check out one of their classes.

If not, find a workout (or way to move your body) in your area that works for you. It doesn’t have to be in a gym or studio. Anything that gets you moving and that you actually like is beneficial for your health.

At the end of the day, fitness should be fun — enjoy, friends!

Weigh In: What’s the best exercise for you?!



Photo credits: Jessica Nash, Michael Simon, Mark Hunter, and Propel

*This post is sponsored by Propel but all opinions are my own.


  1. Such a great message! I had a similar story and now I can’t imagine life without exercise when before it was just something I did!
    Kelli @ Hungry Hobby recently posted…A Dietitian’s Thoughts: What The Health Netflix DocumentaryMy Profile

  2. So true! Finding what works best for you is the way to go!
    Jessica @Small Bites by Jessica recently posted…Savory Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Fried EggMy Profile

  3. Love the thought behind this post! My fave exercise is ballet class…
    Ellen recently posted…Wake up to this sunshine (funky but still, sunshine) in a glassMy Profile

  4. Sounds like so much fun! What a great group and all those workouts sound amazing!
    Rachel recently posted…6 Ways to Block the Running Burnout Before it Becomes a ProblemMy Profile

  5. I think it’s so important to change up your exercise routine! My favorites are running and swimming, but I throw in some workout videos in my basement for a fun and challenging change from the norm!
    Laura recently posted…Homemade Coconut Pecan Granola {Gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar free}!My Profile

    • Whitney English says:

      Absolutely! Switching up your fitness not only keeps it fun but also keeps your body guessing, which is important for continuing benefits!

  6. Every time I say I’m a runner, people start with this “oh I should run, but…” and I’m like dude no one HAS to run, I just happen to love it and that’s my form of keeping this body happy!
    amanda -runtothefinish recently posted…5 Life Hacks for a Morning Routine for Your Best Day(s)My Profile

    • Whitney English says:

      I cringe when I hear things like that! Hopefully, more people will start jumping on the intuitive movement bandwagon and stop “shoulding” themselves to death 😉

  7. This is such a great post! You look like you enjoy every exercise you do!
    Kristina @ Love & Zest recently posted…No Bake Trail Mix Cereal BarsMy Profile

  8. That weekend was so fun! I honestly wish we could have that type of experience more often! I love that you are informing people of the benefits of exercise and also finding a workout you love! Elliptical sounds terrible – I love dancing and boxing most 🙂
    Rachel recently posted…BlogFest 2017 with Propel WaterMy Profile

  9. Christine says:

    I love this approach to health and fitness! Finding what makes you happy and is fun. My personal faves are yoga and kickboxing!

  10. I LOVE your answer!! Such a great post, do what you love because not only will you be happier but you will do it more. Great for mind, body, and soul!

  11. Wow, you’ve tried so many different things!! I follow a pretty specific training program and it doesn’t really leave room for trying other kinds of fitness…these all look like so much fun!
    Deryn | Running on Real Food recently posted…Tips for WeightLifting BeginnersMy Profile

  12. Yaaasss! Doing what you love makes the biggest difference. Love how you’ve found so many great ways to work out.

  13. This is so true! I’m definitely not a “fitness” junkie, but love being generally active and do enjoy my gym time! It’s my break from work and a time to detox.
    Alisa Fleming recently posted…Humans Had Stronger Skulls Before Dairy Farming; New Barley Milk Hops on Sustainable Trend; Dairy-Free Beverage Makers Fall for PumpkinMy Profile

    • Whitney English says:

      Exercise is such a good tool for unwinding! I certainly feel like I’m getting a “stress detox” every time I sweat!

  14. SO important to find ways to enjoy exercise. It took me so long to figure that out! But it definitely becomes easier and more beneficial when you do it because you want to instead of because you “have to.”
    Jordan recently posted…Sweet and Salty GranolaMy Profile

  15. Such a good message! I feel like in today’s environment we all feel like we “need” to do certain things when in reality we just need to find what makes us happy and do that!

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