Exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. But what types of exercise should you do? Generally speaking, there are three forms of exercise you should engage in for a well-rounded fitness program:
- Cardiovascular/aerobic exercise
- Strengthening/resistance exercises
- Flexibility/stretching/range-of-motion exercises
Cardiovascular/aerobic exercise — or cardio for short — helps make you heart, lungs, blood vessels, and muscles work more efficiently. It also helps to control your weight, improve your mood, increase your endurance, and improve your sleep. Cardio includes activities such as walking, running, swimming, bicycling, dancing, high- or low-impact aerobics, kickboxing — pretty much any activity that gets the large muscles of the body moving continuously.
Strengthening/resistance exercises can be categorized as either isometric or isotonic. With isometric exercises, the joint angle and muscle length don’t change. You’re either holding the muscle and joint in a static position while opposed by resistance, or working against an immovable force. Isotonic exercises, on the other hand, change the length of the muscle and move the joint.
Strengthening exercises often use equipment such as dumbbells, a barbell, ankle or wrist weights, or plastic tubing to provide resistance. However, it’s possible to get a great strengthening workout using just your bodyweight, as well, although other types of equipment, such as a chin-up bar, may be necessary.
Flexibility/stretching/range-of-motion exercises are probably the most overlooked of the three types of exercise. However, they play an important role in maintaining muscle and joint strength and pliability. Plus, they just plain feel good!
There are three types of stretching: static, ballistic (i.e. bouncing), and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF; involves both stretching and contracting of muscle group). Static stretching is best for most people, as it’s the least likely to cause injury.
For a complete home fitness program, you need to incorporate all three types of exercises into your schedule. Keep reading HomeFitness411 for information on how to do just that!