You know you need to exercise regularly in order to stay in your best health. But did you know that you need to be getting multiple types of exercise?
It’s true! Exercise is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. But if you’re just thinking you’ll take a walk every now and then to get that exercise, you may want to think again.
In order to keep all parts of the body functioning at their best, particularly as we get older, you need to incorporate several different types of exercises into your normal routine.
Confused? That’s OK—we’re about to step you through the basics of a healthy exercise regimen. Keep reading for the details!
The Basics: How Much Exercise Do I Need?
Before we dive into the logistics on the kinds of exercises you need, let’s first touch on why exercise is important and how much of it you need.
Regular physical activity is vitally important for keeping your body functioning well. But beyond simply helping you feel at your best, exercise also plays a role in disease prevention.
When you exercise regularly, you lower your risk of developing many medical conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and heart disease, among others.
The benefits of exercise aren’t just physical, either. Regularly being physically active will also help boost your mood and lower your risk of conditions like depression and anxiety.
Experts recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. That breaks down to just more than 20 minutes each day. Totally doable, right?
Breaking It Down: The Different Types of Exercise
When you think of exercise, you may think of running on the treadmill, doing Zumba, or going for a swim. And while those are all great forms of exercise, they aren’t checking off all the boxes when it comes to physical activity.
Those are what’s known as cardiovascular exercise—the type that gets your heart pumping and burns calories and fat.
But if you’re only doing heart-pumping exercise, you may be missing out on a valuable health boost. That’s because the body is so much more than just the heart.
To keep us feeling and moving at our best over the years, we also need activities that promote balance, mobility, and bone health.
That’s why experts recommend incorporating a full range of activities into your workout regimen. A balanced workout routine should include:
- Cardiovascular exercise. This is the type we mentioned just above—and what most people think of when exercise is mentioned. It’s also known as “endurance” or “aerobic” activity. This type of exercise makes it harder to breathe and makes your heart beat faster. It keeps your heart, lungs, and circulatory system at their best.
- Strength training. You’re probably pretty familiar with this type of physical activity, too. It involves movements that make the muscles stronger, and is also called “resistance training.” During this type of activity, you’re performing exercises that involve some type of resistance, whether that’s a weight, a resistance band, or your own body weight. While you might think of cardiovascular exercise as the ticket to weight loss, you might be surprised to learn that strength training is just as important, since it helps you build lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass, in turn, helps the body burn more calories.
- Balance exercise. It’s likely that you’re forgetting about this type of exercise, or that you’ve never thought about it. But incorporating exercise moves that improve balance is important, particularly as we get older. That’s because our balance tends to diminish for a variety of reasons, making falls much more likely. You can boost your balance with workouts like Tai Chi, or simply by incorporating specific moves that challenge your balance in your normal workouts.
- Flexibility training. This is another important one that we all too often neglect! These are the stretching movements that you may or may not do at the beginning or end of your workout routine. Performing stretches regularly helps improve your body’s flexibility, including range of motion, and makes it less likely you’ll hurt yourself by moving the wrong direction during a workout or everyday activity.
So, what’s the right balance? Aim for a good blend of these activities in your weekly workout routine. There’s no need to do them separately—in many cases, you can fit all four types of movement into one workout.
Ready to get started with a new workout routine? It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about your health and what types of activities might be best for you. Need a doctor? Find one here.