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January 16, 2018

Katherine DePersio 

Courtesy photo 

Tennova Healthcare highlights best exercises for good health 

KNOXVILLE – Anyone standing in a supermarket checkout line will be bombarded with dozens of different messages about the “best diet” and the “best exercises” to lose weight, gain weight, get stronger and stay healthy. How can anyone choose the right plan? 

To help with evaluating and selecting the right workout routine—based on specific needs and goals—fitness experts at Tennova Healthcare have sorted through the latest “best advice” to provide tips for total health. 

According to a recent report from Harvard Medical School, the following exercises can help individuals get in shape and lower their risk for disease: swimming, strength training, walking, Tai Chi and Kegel exercises. The team at Tennova Health & Fitness Center in Powell agrees with these choices, not only because of the credibility of the clinical sources, but also because they are appropriate for virtually every age and fitness level. 

“This is an excellent list of activities that nearly everyone can benefit from in building and maintaining overall health,” said Katherine DePersio, ACSM-CPT, a certified personal trainer and fitness coordinator at Tennova Health & Fitness Center. “If you have any specific goals or physical limitations, we recommend discussing your fitness routine annually with your primary care physician.” 

In addition to the general list above, fitness experts recommend the following “best” exercises for unique needs and body parts. A personal trainer can coach individuals, or they can find instructional videos online to ensure they use proper form. Everyone is encouraged to check with their doctor before starting any new exercise program. 


  • Lower body: For those who don’t have severe knee pain, or restriction around the use of your knees, the best exercise to ensure long-term lower body strength is squats. Individuals should ensure their knees don’t extend out past their toes, and try to “sit” on an imaginary (or real) chair. Go slowly, and gradually increase repetitions.
  • Upper Body. For those who are able, the best upper body exercises are yoga’s downward dog and upward dog poses. These poses increase strength and flexibility. Plus, using an individual’s own body weight, they can help create a nicely toned back, arms and shoulders.
  • Cardiovascular Health. Most experts now agree that an hour a day on the treadmill or stair climber is not the best way to achieve heart health. Interval training has quickly become accepted as a safer and more impactful way to optimize cardio-fitness. Individuals should use the exercise of their choice (e.g., walking, running, cycling). The goal is to push to maximum exertion (where individuals are barely able to talk), hold it there for 30 seconds and then move at a restful pace for two minutes. Repeat the cycle for a total of 10 minutes to start, working up to 20 or 30 minutes, three times each week.
  • Knee Pain. The best way to work through and eliminate knee pain is to strengthen the other, larger muscles around the knees. For those who suffer from knee pain, squats are probably not advisable. Do a supine hamstring stretch to lengthen and release tight hamstring muscles, and static quad contractions to gradually strengthen the quadriceps muscles without further strain on the knee joint.
  • Lower Back Pain. Try the cat cow stretch to massage/stimulate not only the spine, but also the pelvic muscles and other critical parts of the body’s core. Follow it up with a set of glute bridge exercises to loosen tight hips and engage quad muscles that support the lower back.
  • Neck Pain. Increasingly sedentary and digital lifestyles are leading to an epidemic of neck pain and forward head posture. Neck retraction exercises have a number of variations easily found online, and are a good way to strengthen the muscles that support the head.


According to DePersio, studies have shown that working with a personal trainer on a regular basis (two or more times a week) can offer individuals results faster than exercising on their own. “A personal trainer can work with you to develop a safe, effective program to help you reach your specific goals—whether it’s losing weight, training for a particular sport, or regaining fitness after illness or injury.” 

Tennova’s certified personal trainers offer expert instruction, education and motivation to help individuals reach their fitness goals and provide valuable advice to help prevent injury.  

“You choose how often or when you work with a trainer, whether it is a single session or an ongoing relationship,” DePersio said. “We offer one-on-one training or buddy sessions for you and a friend, as well as group sessions throughout the year.” 

For more information about Tennova Health & Fitness Center, call (865) 859-7900 or visit tennova.com/health-and-fitness-services.

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