When you think of exercise, we all imagine something different, because we are all different! You may imagine strenuous activities such as sprinting or weights — the ones that make you breathe hard, turn flush and drip with sweat. Or maybe you think of jogging or yoga. There is not only one type of exercise, and it is critical for boosting fitness to include multiple types of exercise so you healthy doesn’t become one dimensional. There are actually 4 types of exercise that are important for everyone to include: aerobic training, strength training, balance training, and flexibility training.
Each type of exercise is important in its own way, and doing all four types is the way to maximize your fitness and prevent injury. But maybe people think they know what they are, some may even have not heard of the term aerobic. Here is a brief overview of what these are and their benefits to them.
Aerobic exercises; such as running, swimming or dancing, are activities that work your cardiovascular system — they get your heart rate up and make you breathe harder. Aerobic literally means “relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen”, and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism. This type of exercise can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, and may even lower the risk of cancer
Strength exercises; such as weight lifting, push-ups and crunches, work your muscles by using resistance (like a dumbbell or your own body weight). This type of exercise increases lean muscle mass, which is particularly important for weight loss, because lean muscle burns more calories than other types of tissue. Whether you’re 100 lbs overweight or just need to lose the last 15, strength training is one of the most effective ways to burn fat and build muscle.
Balance exercises improve your ability to control and stabilize your body’s position. This type of exercise is particularly important for older adults, because balance gets worse with age. But balance exercises can be beneficial for everyone, including people who have gained or lost a lot of weight or those who become pregnant, which can throw off your center of gravity. These exercises are also important for reducing injury risk. For example, if you sprain your ankle, you could be at risk for reinjury if you don’t retrain your balance.
Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and may improve your range of motion at your joints. They can improve your flexibility, and reduce your risk of injury during sports and other activities. There are two types of flexibility exercises: static stretching, in which you stretch a muscle without moving, and dynamic stretching, which combines stretching with movements. So the biggest benefits from stretching is improved flexibility, reduce of injury, and reduced lactic acid in the muscles.
Ideally, you should include all four types of exercise in your workouts. But that doesn’t mean you have to do four separate workouts. You use some exercises together, like strength and balance training. For example, when you squat, you do strength as well as balance. Some workouts, such as yoga, incorporate strength, flexibility and balance exercises. It does depend on age and goals of the individual, but you should really try to do all four types of exercise in a training session.
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For more on these types of exercises, check out these links: