Exercise: The four most important types of exercise

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It is important to be aware of the four most important types of exercise. General fitness crucial to maintaining good health, but people tend to limit themselves to one or two types of fitness activity. Everyone has their preferences when it comes to staying fit; while some people like to take a walk in the open air, others would rather like to sweat it out in the comfort of their home.

Some people perform yoga to increase their body flexibility, while others focus on building muscles with strength training exercises. People are generally known to stress over one kind of physical fitness and exercise; this could be due to choice or lack of knowledge.

However, to enhance the overall fitness level of your body, performing different kinds of fitness training is crucial. There are basically four different kinds of fitness training methods to improve your overall health and fitness. These are aerobics, stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises. Here is what you need to know about each fitness type, and examples of activities to try under them.


1. Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercises are activities which speed up your heart rate and breathing. Such actions are essential for many body functions as a workout for your heart and lungs. The body muscles require a proper circulation of blood and air through them for optimum functioning.

If you quickly get tired during minimal strenuous activities such as climbing a flight of stairs, that’s a sign that you need more aerobic exercise to help condition your heart and lungs for proper blood and air circulation.

Aerobic exercise also helps to relax blood vessel walls, burn body fat, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels, boost mood, and reduce inflammation. Furthermore, aerobic exercise helps to control cholesterol level. When this type of exercise is done over the long term, it reduces your risk of heart disease, breast and colon cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

Some examples of exercises under this category include; brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, jogging, or classes like step aerobics. To maintain good heart and lungs workout, engage in such moderate-intensity activities for at least 150 minutes per week.

2. Strength training

As we grow older, we tend to lose muscle mass, but strength training what helps us builds it back. Not only would regular strength training make you feel stronger, but it will also help you feel more confident and capable of handle daily tasks like carrying groceries, and lifting massive objects around the house. Strength training helps to reduce the feeling of laziness.

Strengthening your muscles also stimulates bone growth, and assists other body functions such as; lowers blood sugar, improves balance and posture, reduces stress and pain in the lower back and joints, and assists with weight control.

Strength exercise includes activities such as squats, push-ups, and lunges; these exercises may often involve resistance weights, a band, or weight machine. Have in mind that such activities often come along with a feel of muscle fatigue at the conclusion, and it is essential to feel fatigued to ensure you work on the muscles.

If you find it difficult to distinguish what works best for you, you can consult a physical therapist to help you design a strength training plan that you can do two or more times a week at a gym, at home, or anywhere you feel comfortable.

3. Stretching

Stretching exercises is aimed at maintaining body flexibility. This is one type of fitness people often overlook in their youth when their muscles are healthier. As we grow older, our bodies tend to lose their flexibility in the muscles and tendons, as muscles shorten and don’t function properly.

Lack of muscle flexibility increases the risk for muscle cramps and pain at old age, and other harmful effects such as; muscle damage, joint pain, strains, and falling, could also take place. Getting through daily activities such as bending down to tie your shoes may also become challenging.

Stretching the muscles routinely makes them more extended, more flexible, reduce pain and the risk for injury, and increases your range of motion. When creating your workout plan, aim for a stretching routine of at least three or four times per week.

Here is a tip: Get your muscles warmed up with a few minutes of dynamic stretches; using simple repetitive motion such as stationary marching with arms rotating. This would get blood and oxygen circulated in muscles, making them amenable to change.

Next, perform static stretches; hold a stretch position for at least 60 seconds. Repeat stretches for the calves, hip flexors, the hamstrings, quadriceps, muscles in the neck, shoulders, and lower back. However, be cautious not to push stretches into the painful range, as that would tighten the muscles and is counterproductive.

4. Balance exercises


The fourth type of fitness known as the balance is aimed at Improving your stability, making you feel steadier on your feet. This fitness helps you prevent falls, and would be much needed as you get older. During old age, the body systems that maintain balance; our vision, inner ear, leg muscles and joints, tend to become less functional. However, if you begin to train your balance early enough, you can prevent and reverse these losses malfunctions.

Nowadays, many senior centres and gyms offer balance-centred exercise classes, with activities such as tai chi or yoga. It’s never too early to start building your balance fitness with these types of exercise, even if you feel there’s no problem with your balance.

For a better insight into your current balance abilities, you can consult a physical therapist to help you determine your balance standpoint, and prescribe exercises to target your areas of weakness. This could be necessary, especially if you have a fear of falling if you’ve had a fall or near-fall before.

A typical activity for balance exercise could be standing on one foot or walking heel to toe. However, your physical therapist may have you focus on joint flexibility with activities such as, walking on an uneven surface, and also strengthening leg muscles with exercises like squats and lifts. Make sure you’ve acquired proper training before attempting any of these exercises alone.


Ideally, it’s to your benefit to include all four types of exercise in your workout routine. Although it doesn’t mean you have to do four separate workouts. What you want to do is combine some activities, to create one stunt that meets two or more fitness needs.

For example, you could combine strength and balance training by performing a bicep curl while standing on one foot. Some workouts, like yoga, incorporate strength, flexibility and balance exercises altogether.

For a sample workout routine, you can include running or walking briskly for 30 minutes on a treadmill as aerobic exercise, then perform the above strength and balance exercises combined, and finish up by doing some static stretches. Make sure your exercise program includes a bit of all four types of exercise.

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