Exercise involves engaging in physical activity and increasing the heart rate beyond resting levels. It is an important part of preserving physical and mental health.
Whether people engage in light exercise, such as going for a walk, or high intensity activities, for example, uphill cycling or weight training, regular exercise provides a huge range of benefits for the body and mind.
Taking part in exercise of any intensity every day is essential for preventing a range of diseases and other health issues.
In this article, we explain the different types of exercise and their benefits, as well as the considerations for designing a fitness regime.
People divide exercise into three broad categories:
- agility training
We describe each of these categories below.
Aerobic exercise aims to improve how the body uses oxygen. Most aerobic exercise takes place at average levels of intensity over longer periods.
An aerobic exercise session involves warming up, exercising for at least 20 minutes, and then cooling down. Aerobic exercise mostly uses large muscle groups.
Aerobic exercise provides the following benefits:
- improves muscle strength in the lungs, heart, and whole body
- lowers blood pressure
- improves circulation and blood flow in the muscles
- increases the red blood cell count to enhance oxygen transportation
- reduces the riskTrusted Source of diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease (CVD)
- improves life expectancyTrusted Source and symptoms for people with coronary artery diseases
- stimulates bone growth and reduces the risk of osteoporosis when at high intensity
- improves sleep hygiene
- enhances stamina by increasing the body’s ability to store energy molecules, such as fats and carbohydrates, within muscle
Anaerobic exercise does not use oxygen for energy. People use this type of exercise to build power, strength, and muscle mass.
These exercises are high-intensity activities that should last no longer than around 2 minutes. Anaerobic exercises include:
- intensive and fast skipping with a rope
- interval training
- any rapid burst of intense activity
While all exercise benefits the heart and lungs, anaerobic exercise provides fewer benefits for cardiovascular health than aerobic exercise and uses fewer calories. However, it is more effective than aerobic exercise for building muscle and improving strength.
Increasing muscle mass causes the body to burn more fat, even when resting. Muscle is the most efficient tissue for burning fat in the body.
Agility training aims to improve a person’s ability to maintain control while speeding up, slowing down, and changing direction.
In tennis, for example, agility training helps a player maintain control over their court positioning through good recovery after each shot.
People who take part in sports that heavily rely on positioning, coordination, speed, and balance need to engage in agility training regularly.
The following sports are examples of ones that require agility:
- American football
- martial arts
Stretching and flexibility
Some exercises combine stretching, muscle conditioning, and balance training. A popular and effective example is yoga.
Yoga movements improve balance, flexibility, posture, and circulation.
The practice originated in India thousands of years ago and aims to unify the mind, body, and spirit. Modern yoga uses a combination of meditation, posture, and breathing exercises to achieve the same goals.
A yoga practitioner can tailor a course for individual needs.
A person looking to manage arthritis might need gentle stretches to improve mobility and function. Someone with depression, on the other hand, may need more emphasis on the relaxation and deep breathing elements of yoga.
Pilates is another stretching option that promotes flexibility and core strength. Tai chi is also an effective option for exercise that promotes calm stretching rather than intensity.