Different Types of Exercise for Balanced Fitness
Making strides toward your health goals? Why not talk to your doctor about a balanced activity plan that’s right for you? That often includes aerobic activity, strength training, and flexibility.
Aerobic activity involves continuous, rhythmic movement of large groups of muscles to strengthen your heart and lungs. During this activity, your muscles require more oxygen to produce energy. Your heart beats faster to keep up. Over time, your heart and lungs become stronger.
At least 20 minutes of aerobics, 3 or more times a week, is usually recommended. But your doctor might suggest starting with less. Some ways you can get aerobic activity include:
Walking. You can do this at your own pace. Walking can help increase endurance, boost bone strength, burn calories, and keep weight down.
Stair climbing. You don’t need a stair-climbing machine—taking the stairs instead of the elevator works just as well. It can also be an energizing activity you can do when you need an afternoon break.
Bicycling. If you loved it as a child, why not get back to it? When the weather won’t cooperate, try indoor cycling at home or the gym. Check with your doctor first, listen to your body, and adjust the bike’s tension and speed according to how you feel.
Jogging. It can be a great way to burn calories in a short amount of time. If you are considering jogging, check with your doctor first. Plan to start out slow and build up. You can jog for a little bit, then walk. Don’t increase mileage more than 10% at a time.
Swimming. When you’re in the water, your body weight is reduced by 90%—putting less stress on joints and bones. And water provides all 3 elements of a good routine: strength training, flexibility, and
Strength training targets specific body parts, making your muscles work against extra weight or resistance. Over time, the muscles become bigger to meet this demand. It can mean stronger bones, tendons, and ligaments; firmer muscles; and a better sense of your body. Training is usually done at least twice a week, but check with your doctor first.
Your home may be more convenient. You can start with simple equipment such as 2- to 15-pound hand weights. Or use resistance bands made of strong, flexible elastic—they’re available at sporting-goods stores. These bands can help strengthen arm and leg muscles. Prefer the gym? You can ask the staff to guide you in using the exercise machines.
Building flexibility can help with improved freedom of movement, better posture, and increased physical and mental relaxation. Consider:
Stretches. After your warmup and after you finish your activity, stretch to help your muscles recover from what you’ve just done.
Start slowly with each stretch and take deep breaths. Try to hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. Don’t bounce. If you feel any pain, it may be a sign you’re doing too much.
A few stretches after you’ve been sitting or standing for awhile also can help you feel more energized.
Some quick stretches you can try include: hamstring stretch, groin stretch, triceps stretch, hip stretch, thigh stretch, and upper arm and chest stretch.
Classes. Why not try a tai chi or gentle yoga class, both of which involve a series of slow movements?
Most important: whatever your activity plan is, make sure it’s something you enjoy.