woman-exercisel1We all know how important it is to make sure we get enough exercise every day. It’s a given to most of us that physical activity is an essential part of any complete health and fitness regime, but how many types of exercise are there? What purpose does each one serve, which ones should be a part of your routine? Exercise can pretty much be separated into three basic categories – aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise (or strength training), and flexibility exercises. Let’s take a closer look at each one, discuss its benefits, and examine what each can add to your personal fitness routine.
Aerobic exercise is exercise that raises your heart and breathing rates, as well as works your muscles, and is considered by the American College of Sports Medicine to be exercise that “uses large muscles groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature. This type of exercise is essential when it comes to strengthening and maintaining a healthy heart and a strong set of lungs, as well as healthy, efficient circulatory and respiratory systems in general. It’s also an important part of any routine that focuses on calorie burning and weight loss. The recommended daily amount of aerobic exercise per adult is generally about 30 minutes a day at least 5 days per week, and to be done properly, both warm-up and cool-down periods should be included. Examples include running, jogging, swimming, dancing, tennis, and brisk walking.
Anaerobic Exercise (Strength Training)
Unlike aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise is not something that is done for a sustained period of time. Instead, it is done in short bursts and utilizes stored energy within the muscles themselves. It helps build and maintain strong, healthy, and efficient bones, tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles, which means improved ability when it comes to many everyday activities, as well as a reduced risk of injury in general. Incorporating anaerobic exercise into your fitness routine several times a week not only helps keep you at your strongest, but it helps keep you looking good as well. Examples include weight lifting, sprinting, and other types of interval training.
Also called stretching exercises, flexibility exercises help you develop a wider ability and range when it comes to movement, as well as reduce your risk of injury while engaging in other types of activity. This type of exercise describes any type of activity that involves extension of the limbs and many types of basic flexibility exercises focus on specific muscle groups. Making sure you maintain an optimum level of flexibility also helps reduce the tendency to naturally become more stiff and restricted with age. Examples of exercises that help build flexibility and improve range of motion include pilates, yoga, and tai chi.
While all people of all ages can benefit from becoming more active in general and incorporating any type of physical activity into their routine, a well-rounded and effective workout routine will incorporate at least some exercise of all three types. Some activities will, of course, fit into more than one category. Depending on what type of results you are looking to achieve from your workout routine, you may want to put special emphasis on any one of the above categories