Staying healthy is a multi-step process. Not only do you have to maintain a balanced diet and sleep properly, but you’ve got to exercise too. Many make the mistake of thinking that going to the gym, throwing around some weights and maybe running a little will help them achieve their goals. The truth is, the key to fitness success is intelligent, informed decision making.
Whether it’s the food your eating or the exercises you’re doing, the more you learn, the easier it is to know exactly what your next step should be. With this in mind, we have put together this short guide to help educate you on the four common types of exercise. Using this, you should be able to get a much better idea of what exercises are available to you, as well as how you can use them to achieve your fitness goals.
Endurance exercises, also commonly referred to as aerobic or ‘cardio’ exercises, are activities that increase your heart rate and in turn, make you breathe more quickly. These exercises usually involve large movements, primarily testing your body’s ability to efficiently transfer oxygen to the blood via your lungs, then circulate that oxygen quickly via the blood.
In terms of benefits, these cardio activities help increase general stamina and fitness as well as reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and blood pressure issues. Additionally, if done correctly, endurance exercises are good at assisting in fat burning. There is a range of cardio equipment and machines out there, each capable of improving stamina whilst burning fat – it’s just about finding the equipment that suits your preference.
Common endurance exercises include:
- Fast Walking
- Manual Labour (e.g. digging, chopping logs, etc.)
Strength exercises are less about general fitness and stamina. Instead, they focus on developing muscular structure and improving their effectiveness, improving overall strength and power.
There are muscles all over your body, each serving a purpose and allowing you to move precisely and effectively. The strength of these muscles is what determines how much force you can exert, whether that’s lifting up a TV, pushing a car or doing a pull-up. Without going into too much detail, muscles grow by being ‘damaged’ during exercise; then, the body repairs the muscle fibers that are damaged by adding more protein strands to them, strengthening the overall muscle and increasing its size.
Strength exercises aim to accelerate this process. They force you to use your muscles intensely, leading to a cycle of damage, repair, growth, and strengthening.
Common strength exercises include:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Push-ups (lifting your own body weight)
- Pull-ups (lifting your own body weight)
Flexibility is a trait that many people value, particularly in sports careers or for those in industries that require a high level of manual labour. Flexibility exercises help to develop this attribute, keeping your body loose and stretching your muscles so that they can move more freely.
From a lifestyle perspective, flexibility tends to show it’s worth when stretching and reaching for things or whilst trying to get into tight spaces; plus, they can reduce muscular tension in the back and shoulders too. From a sporting perspective, flexibility can do wonders for reducing risks of muscular tears and injuries.
Regardless of whether it is directly related to your fitness objective, flexibility exercises are highly recommended. Common flexibility exercises include:
- Conventional warm-up stretches
Balance exercises are often forgotten as they tend to not be particularly helpful for most individuals’ fitness goals, though it’s still important to know about them. Balance exercises do exactly what they sound like, helping improve your balance and assisting in everyday life. Most balance exercises have a negligible effect on body shape or size but if you find yourself falling over a lot, they can be really helpful.
Common balance exercises include:
- Heel-to-toe walking
- Martial arts like Tai Chi
- Standing on one leg