Exercise is one of the key components of optimal health. The four main types of exercise are endurance (aerobic), strength (anaerobic), flexibility and balance.
While people often have tendency to focus only on one type of physical activities, the truth is that mix and match them, and changing them from time to time offers the best benefits. Not only it helps reduce boredom, but it also decreases the risk of getting injury.
Although, I describe the different types of exercise separately, I want to let you know that many exercises may fall into 2 or 3 of the categories. For example, squats is typically considered as strength exercise, which you can also use to work on your endurance. Yoga is usually considered as flexibility type of activity, although many of the poses concentrate on balance as well.
Now that we cleared that out, lets see which type of physical activities fall into each of the categories and what are their health benefits.
Anaerobic (strength) exercise increases the strength of the muscles and makes them leaner. This kind of exercise involves bursts of activity for short period of time. During anaerobic exercise, the body doesn’t use oxygen for producing the required energy.
Except of the weight-lifting, part of the anaerobic exercises are sprinting, box-jumps, medicine ball throws, kettlebell swings etc. (because of the way energy is being produced).
As we age we tend to lose muscle mass and bone density, especially us women. This is why strength training, done 2-3 times a week is very important.
When the strength training is properly performed it can provide significant benefits and improvements for the overall health and wellbeing. Some of those benefits include improvement of bone density which lowers the risk of osteoporosis; improvement of your body composition and getting greater percentage of muscle mass, which boosts your metabolism and gives you a toned appearance, as well as helping with weight loss; developing strong muscles and connective tissues will help your body to move more efficiently and will decrease the chances of getting injury; getting greater strength will improve your overall quality of life and provide you with more stamina.
Aerobic exercises, also known as endurance exercises, when performed, are increasing the breathing and heart rate. This kind of exercises are keeping the heart, lungs and circulatory system healthy and are improving the overall fitness. Because of aerobic exercises, the heart becomes stronger and more efficient and can pump larger amount of blood with each heartbeat, and the cardiovascular system delivers it more quickly and efficiently to every part of the body. Thus, when you perform aerobic exercises on regular basis, you increase your endurance and can work for longer periods of time and more vigorously. This will not only increase your stamina, but also will speed up your recovery process at the end of each aerobic exercise.
Some types of aerobic exercise are jogging, swimming, biking, hiking, dancing etc.
Benefits of regular aerobic exercise are: stronger heart increased number of red blood cells; promotes neurogenesis (formation of new neurons in the hippocampus of the brain – the research has only been done on rats but scientist believe we benefit from this as well); improved muscle health; improved immune system;increased mental health; increased stamina; elevated mood; and weight loss.
Flexibility training is very important part of the workout program. Studies have shown that flexibility training may enhance performance in aerobic training and muscle conditioning. When used appropriately, flexibility allows people to become more in tune with their bodies, which through relaxation can improve both mental and physical recovery.
Flexibility training may include stretching after each workout or taking yoga class.
One of the ways of including flexibility in your own workouts is to start each workout with 5-10min of active or dynamic stretching, and finish it with another 5-10min of static stretching.
Some of the benefits of flexibility training are: reducing stress in the exercised muscles and releasing tension, improved posture, reduced risk of injury, improved performance in everyday activities etc.
Stability training is crucial part of a workout regimen. Balance (Stability) is the ability to control the body’s position either stationary (yoga) or during movement (roller skating, ice skating, surfing).
Typical balance exercises include standing on one leg, with the eyes open or closed, doing exercises on BOSU ball, walking heel to toe etc.
Benefits of balance training include improvements in overall fitness, performance and injury prevention, as well as increased body awareness, coordination and joint stability, and improving strength and power.
Well, this is all I have to say about the different types of exercise. So, next time you hit the gym try something new. Take that yoga class your gym offers. Try animal flow. Do box jumps. Grab a kettlebell. Learn new movement. Challenge yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. Expand your horizons.
Until next time!