There are three major types of exercise, and each contributes something different
to overall fitness. In general, a balanced program would include all three
- Cardiovascular training -- also called aerobic training, this type
of exercise builds endurance by keeping the heart pumping for an extended
period of time. It helps increase the pumping ability of your heart, relaxes
blood vessels, improves cholesterol, strengthens bones, and helps you lose
weight. Once you have worked up to it, shoot for 3 - 4 hours in your target
zone per week, spread out through the week. Some aerobic exercise is considered "low
to moderate impact," which most people in reasonably good health can perform
-- examples include brisk walking, swimming, and climbing stairs. These can
all be very beneficial, so it is not necessary to work up to "high-impact" aerobic
activities like running, dance exercise, and tennis.
- Flexibility training -- these exercises help your muscles stretch
farther in a given direction. Flexibility training helps prevent cramps,
stiffness, and injuries, and can give you a wider range of motion. These
exercises also emphasize proper breathing, balance, and alignment. Some forms
of flexibility training, such as yoga and tai chi, include meditation and
breathing techniques that can reduce stress.
- Weight training -- also called strength or resistance training,
these exercises build up your muscles and help maintain bone density. Strength
training involves performing repetitions ("reps") that move specific muscles
in the same pattern repeatedly against a resisting force. Aim for 10 - 20
minutes of strength training 2 - 3 times per week. Consider finding a trained
professional (like a physical therapist or a personal trainer) who can teach
you how to use weights safely and effectively.
Review Date: 3/12/2007
Reviewed By: Benjamin W. Van Voorhees, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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