We all know it – exercise is important. Finding a routine that works (as in, it’s something you enjoy, can stick with, and helps you accomplish your fitness and weight loss goals) can be a challenge. It’s a trial and error journey of giving new exercise methods a try until you land on the combination that fits your lifestyle and goals. This list is designed to help you understand the different types of exercise and give you ideas of new ways to incorporate each into your fitness routine.
There are four basic types of exercise: Endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance. We tend to get caught up in one or two of these categories while neglecting the others. Each offers unique benefits to your health, and it’s a good goal to find exercises from each to work into your workout regimen.
Also known as aerobic, these activities are designed to expand your lung capacity and strengthen your heart. Ultimately, these exercises increase your overall endurance for physical activity. These are the exercises that get your body burning fat, resulting in weight loss. The endorphins released are responsible for helping regulate your mood and giving you more energy throughout the day.
Benefits: Weight loss, increased physical stamina, better mood and energy levels
Goal: 30 minutes of sustained activity 3-4 days a week
Examples: Walking, jogging, running, yard work, bicycling, skiing, dancing, swimming
These are the exercises responsible for really building your muscles. Also called resistance training or strength training, building your muscles is one of the best ways to keep weight off once you lose it by building and marinating more calorie-burning muscle. It’s also a well-known fact that strength training keeps your bones stronger. Additionally, strength training is how you tone muscles for a body you can be proud to show off.
Benefits: Burn more calories, protect bone health, toned body
Goal: 2-3 days a week of focused strength training
Examples: Weight lifting (free weights and machines), resistance bands, using your own weight (as in the case of push ups)
Strength is important, but adding flexibility exercises will allow you to use your full range of motion and will also protect your muscles and joints from injury. Aside from making exercise easier – and safer – this translates to going about your daily life easier and with less “aches and pains.”
Benefits: Less risk of injury, more mobility, better posture
Goal: 5-10 minutes before and after intense strength or endurance exercise
Examples: Static stretches, dynamic stretches, yoga, tai chi
This might seem unnecessary, but it’s actually very important. Because so many people work in office jobs, most have very poor balance which leads to poor posture and affects your ability to safely and effectively perform exercises. Working on your balance improves your ability to use the correct muscles for an exercise (instead of “cheating”) by improving your neuromuscular coordination.
Benefits: Better balance, improved joint stability, decreased risk of injury, increased coordination
Goal: 1-2 times per week
Examples: Pilates, yoga, standing on one leg, toe-to-toe walk
Using this guide, mix and match from each category to get more out of the time you invest in exercising. As we said before, you’ll get the best results by incorporating a good mixture of endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises.