When exercising we often have a tendency to focus on one or maybe two primary types of exercise and of course any exercise is good exercise. However, studies show that by combining all four types of exercise (endurance, strength, balance and flexibility) we achieve the most health benefits and improve overall health and physical ability.
Each type of exercise has it’s benefits and doing all four maximizes your level of fitness and also helps to prevent injury. According to Dr. Laskowski, co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center “while endurance exercise is very important, it’s not as effective for overall health when done alone compared with when people include all four types of exercise in their routine.” For example, we know that strength training makes muscles stronger and that supports and protects joints, leading to injury prevention during endurance exercise. Balance exercises strengthen muscles that stabilize our movements and also reduces the risk of injury, according to Dr. Laskowski.
Lets explore each type of exercise in more detail and discuss the benefits of each as well as provide some examples in each category.
Endurance exercises, which are often referred to as aerobic exercise, are designed to increase both your heart rate and breathing. They help keep the whole cardiovascular system healthy; heart, lungs and circulatory system. Endurance also can delay or prevent many diseases the are common in older adults, like diabetes, colon and breast cancers, and heart disease. Here are some examples of endurance exercises:
- Brisk walking or jogging
- Climbing stairs or hills
- Playing tennis, basketball, or soccer
Increasing your endurance allows you to be active throughout life so it’s important to get in 150 minutes (2.5 hours) per week. By being active throughout your day and avoid sitting for long periods of time, you should be able to achieve 2.5 hours per week.
Strength: By maintaining strong muscles everyday activities become a lot easier, plus we not only look good but we feel good knowing we have a strong body. Strength exercise increases lean muscle mass, which is important for weight loss because lean muscle burns more calories even when we are at rest. Additionally, keeping our muscles strong helps with balance and can prevent injury. Strength exercises include lifting weights, even your own body weight or using resistance bands. It’s important to perform strength exercises for all of the major muscle groups at least three days per week. If you are new to weight lifting start out with 3-5 or ten pound weights and work your way up. Also, it might be worth hiring a personal trainer to assist you. A certified trainer can prevent injury and create a plan to ensure you are exercising all the major muscle groups. If you workout at home, avoid injury by not jerking the weights or trying to lift weights that are too heavy.
Balance exercises go a long way in preventing falls but also improves our ability to control and stabilize our body, especially when we are exercising. Performing balance exercises are especially important as we get older, when the systems that helps us stay balanced, vision, inner-ear, leg muscles and joints start to break down. The good news is, by adding balance exercises to our weekly workout routine, for example three times per week, you can prevent and even reverse these losses due to aging. Perhaps consider adding a few balance exercises before beginning strength training. You can use balance exercises as a good way to warm up before lifting weights. For some examples of balance exercises, ranging from seniors, kids and athletes, please click this link to Healthline’s article, 13 Exercises for Balance.
Flexibility: stretching helps maintain flexibility and we often overlook it’s importance. If we aren’t stretching our muscles shorten and don’t function properly and that can lead to muscle cramps, pain, muscle damage, strains, and joint pain. By improving our flexibility we can move more freely making it easier to perform even simple tasks like bending over, reaching the top shelf or turning to look behind you. It’s important to perform flexibility exercises at least three or four times per week to improve your range of motion and reduce the risk of injury during physical activity. As you begin it’s important to always warm up first and don’t push a stretch to the point of pain. Please click on this link to Lifehack’s article, 15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine.
Again, by combining all four types of exercise in your weekly workout program you’ll maximize the benefits and maintain a healthy body. However, it doesn’t mean you have to separate these into individual workouts. Try adding elements of all four into each workout, stretch as a warm up before performing endurance or strength training and maybe use balance exercises as part of your down.
The information is this article is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. Please consult your doctor for all heath related questions/issues and before beginning any exercise or nutrition program. Your doctor can help you determine an individualized plan that’s best for you.