About 100 years ago, you had to be quite active and move around a lot just to live your everyday life, so back then this was your types of exercise. Today, in the modern societies, nearly everything we used to do manually is done by machines; from washing our clothes to cleaning our house and moving around.
BusyBods Types Of Exercise
Most modern urban dwellers spend their entire waking day sitting; they go straight from bed to sitting on the toilet, then at the breakfast table, and then in the car to drive to work. At work, they spend their entire day sitting, only waking up to sit on the toilet, then at the cafeteria, and back to the office chair. In the evening, they sit in the car to drive home, maybe sit at a local bar for a “one for the road” and go back home to sit on a couch watching TV…then crawl back to bed.
Sedentary lifestyle combined with poor eating habits can wreck your physical, mental and psychological health if interventions are not implemented promptly. Thankfully, implementing just a little movement and physical activities in your lifestyle can help improve all this. Exercising and living an active lifestyle can reduce the risk of developing major illnesses such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and stroke by up to 50%.
Exercise has numerous benefits to all facets of our life and is a miracle cure for lots of illnesses; unfortunately, most of us are not taking it in the recommended doses. Today, we will discuss the available types of exercise and how you can effortlessly incorporate them in your life, but first, let’s take a quick look at the general health benefits of exercise.
Health benefits of regular exercise
Mental health benefits
We all know that exercise is good for our physical well-being, but exercise is also an excellent way to improve your mental health. Exercising on a regular basis has a positive impact on anxiety, depression, stress and more. It also improves memory, helps you stay alert, and sleep better and boosts your overall mood.
The best part is you don’t have to be a fitness guru to reap the mental health benefits of exercising and depending on your lifestyle, and you don’t even have to go to the gym. Research reveals that even the slightest effort to exercise can make all the difference. More specifically, here is how regular exercise affects your mental health;
- Exercise and depression: research shows that regular exercise can treat mild to moderate depression even more efficiently than the antidepressant medication as it doesn’t have side effects. Exercise fights depression by improving neural growth, reducing inflammation, and releasing endorphins to energize your brain and make you feel calm and safe. It’s also a great distraction that allows you to break out of the cycle of negative feelings and thoughts that fuel depression.
- Exercise and Anxiety: Exercise is a great natural anti-anxiety treatment. It boosts mental and physical energy, relieves tension and enhances feelings of well-being through the release of endorphins. Any activity that will keep you physically active and moving can help. Try to pay attention to what is happening to your body as you exercise; the rhythm of your breath, the sensation of your feet as they hit the ground, the feeling of the wind on your skin and so on. Being mindful of these elements can help you interrupt the flow of constant worries and negative thoughts trying to sneak back into your mind.
- Exercise and stress: when we are stressed, our muscles tend to be tense, especially around the neck, face, and shoulders. Back and neck pain, as well as painful headaches are also a common stress symptom. Depending on the level of stress, some people may feel a pounding pulse, tightness in the chest, muscle cramps, heartburn, diarrhea, stomachache, insomnia or frequent urination. Prolonged stress can create an unhealthy vicious cycle between your body and mind. Exercising or even just taking a walk can be very effective in breaking this cycle. Physical activity helps relieve tension and relax the muscles making you feel better.
- Exercise and ADHD: Medical practitioners commonly use exercise as means to reduce symptoms of ADHD and improve motivation, concentration, memory, and mood. Exercise instantly boosts levels of dopamine and serotonin levels in your brain—all of which affect attention and focus.
- Exercise and self-esteem: when you make regular exercise a habit, it can boost your sense of self-worth and make you feel powerful and vigorous. Exercise will improve your physical appearance and make you feel better about your looks which give you a sense of achievement.
- Better sleep: exercise is great for regulating sleep patterns and improving sleep quality. Exercising is the morning is recommended, but if you prefer to exercise at night, then do it at least 2 hours before bedtime, of stick to lighter workouts like yoga and gentle stretching
- Increases pain tolerance: it’s well documented that intense exercise can dull pain within a short time. Pain happens as a result of endorphins and other chemicals improving relaxation and feelings of happiness and increasing pain tolerances.
Physical health benefits
- Improved physical appearance: people exercise for many different reasons; however, the primary reason is almost always to improve their looks. It could be to lose belly fat, develop abs, build chest and arm muscles or any other physical attribute you can imagine of. For this reason, there are also various specific workouts regimes for each muscle you wish to improve on your body. The best part is that exercise is natural, safe and effective when properly implemented.
- Get Stronger: physical activities such as weight training or resistant training can bring out the muscles you never knew you had. But it doesn’t stop there; regular exercise will increase and improve bone density, joint function, and ligament, muscle and tendon strength. Resistance and weight training have also been successfully used to manage osteoporosis as well as improve balance and posture.
- Aid Weight Loss: if you are looking to get or maintain a healthy body weight, you have probably been told that exercise works magic. Well, it does, you just need to get a great workout plan and take a second look at your diet. By incorporating exercise into your life, taking every opportunity in your daily activities to get physical and revising your meal plans, you can burn extra calories and maintain a healthy body with less hassle.
- Slows down aging: living an active lifestyle by even just incorporating modest exercise and physical activities can make you look and feel years younger compared to your peers that live sedentary lifestyles. Regular exercise keeps your muscles and skin younger and your body firm and healthier. Research also indicates that people who live a physically active lifestyle live 3 to 6 years longer than those who don’t exercise.
Social health benefits
- Make new friends: exercise programs that incorporate recreational activities such as biking, racing, swimming, yoga, dancing, and skiing not only improve your physical well-being but also gives you an opportunity to make new friends who also enjoys an active lifestyle. Whether you are new to your community, school, or workplace, joining a recreational sports league or a fitness program introduces you to new people, new opportunities and expands your network.
- Strengthen Your Confidence: being happy with the way you look in addition to having a better posture can significantly boost your confidence compared to someone who appears slouched. Many types of exercise can improve your physical appearance and boost your self-confidence. Losing a few pounds around your belly and improving your posture can make you feel like you are on top of the world.
- Help control addiction: the brain release a reward chemical known as dopamine in response to any form of pleasure; be it sex, exercise, foods, drugs or alcohol. Some people, unfortunately, become addicted to dopamine and crave for the substance that produces it, like alcohol or drugs. Thankfully, exercise can help you manage such addictions. Regular exercise can distract you from bad habits and make you de-prioritize cravings.
Other benefits of exercise
- Prevent Illness: as earlier mentioned, exercise is a magic medicine for many illnesses and is freely available. Physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, and injury. It also boosts your immunity which improves your overall wellbeing and wards off opportunistic illnesses.
- Improve Your Sex Life: A study from the University of Arkansas indicates that exercise improves blood flow to the genital region which makes it easier for women to hit ‘the big O’. In men, burning about 200 calories per day can significantly reduce your risk of developing erectile dysfunction.
Types of exercise
Exercise is great for good health and healthy functioning of our bodies. However modern societies are neglecting the importance of an active lifestyle, and even those who attempt to exercise tend to limit themselves to one or two types of exercise. This usually doesn’t offer an opportunity to balance mental, physical and social aspects of your body. It’s, therefore, important to understand the types of exercise available and how each of them benefits your body.
Physical activity and exercise fall into five basic categories; Aerobic, anaerobic, strength, balance, and stretching/flexibility. Each group is different and comes with its unique benefits. Doing them all by mixing them up will bring out the maximum benefits and also reduce boredom. Below are the major types of exercise and what you can expect from each.
Aerobic or endurance exercises are the main component of any fitness program. They help to improve your heart rate and breathing, keep the lungs and circulation system healthy and can ward off illnesses such as heart diseases and diabetes. Some of the indications that you need aerobic exercise include feeling general drowsiness, unexplained mild fatigue and if you feel too tired to walk up a flight of stairs.
Aerobic exercises will condition your lungs and heart, improve blood flow to your muscles and boost your energy levels enabling you to work more efficiently.
Aerobic exercises are also perfect for relaxing blood vessel walls, burning body fat, lowering blood pressure and sugar levels, boosting mood, lowering cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation. In the long run, these types of exercise will reduce your risk of developing stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, colon and breast cancer and injury.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), each adult should aim at getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. You can divide this up into various portions depending on your lifestyle and weekly schedule. But most specialists recommend breaking up this time into 30-minute workouts, five days a week.
Some of the most common aerobic exercises include cycling, dancing, jogging, walking, swimming, playing tennis, and climbing stairs. If you attempt the more vigorous activity like running, you don’t have to do the 150 minutes, 75 minutes would be enough.
How to avoid injury
Don’t exercise too fast or too hard at the beginning of your workout session. Start with relatively light activities and progress to more intensive workouts later. If you have joint problems, keep off from high impact exercises such as jumping. You can instead opt for low-impact activities like riding a stationary bicycle or do water exercises.
Anaerobic exercise involves performing continuous and intense movements using your large muscle groups. Exercises like sprinting, Weightlifting and plyometrics are all forms of anaerobic exercises. These types of exercise increase endurance and can also be used for weight loss.
Anaerobic exercises are meant to increase the force your muscle contractions generate and can increase your speed, strength and power output. They exhaust your muscles just after a few contractions because you perform each specific repetition intensively. Anaerobic exercises that exhaust your muscles within 14 repetitions or less are ideal for building strength and increasing power.
- Strength training
These types of exercise are great for keeping your muscles and bones strong. They can also be used by older adults to gain power and maintain their independence. As we age, our bodies lose mass and strength. We can use regular strength training to regain more strength and help you feel more capable and confident in doing every day’s activities like gardening, carrying groceries and lifting heavy objects around the house.
In addition to strengthening your muscles, strength training stimulates bone growth, assists in weight control, lowers blood sugar improves posture and balance and reduces pain and stress on your joints and lower back. If you are not sure about which strength training is best suited for you or if you have any physical injury, you should consult a physical therapist who will design a safe workout program for you.
Some of the common strength training exercises include body weight exercises such as push-ups, squats, and lunges. You can also incorporate activities that involve resistant from a band, weight or resistance machine. During strength training, you should feel some fatigue at the end of your session in the target muscles that you were training.
Strength training should be performed at least two days per week to realize the best results. The best strength training regime should aim at working for all major muscle groups in your hips, legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms, and abdomen. For each muscle, you target, do at least 12 reps to get the ultimate benefits of the exercise. Since strength training is intensive, do not exercise the same group of muscles two days in a row to give them time to recover.
How to avoid injury during strength training
Strength training can lead to injuries if not done using the right equipment in a safe environment. If you do these exercises poorly using a bad technique, you can easily injure yourself. If you are just starting out with these kinds of workouts, start with start with lighter weights, perform lesser reps and build on this gradually.
Balance exercise improves our ability to maintain the correct body posture and alignment. They are mainly meant to improve the control of your body movements through the strengthening of muscles. You will be able to gain more balance, agility, and joint articulation. A better balance can help perform more sophisticated and powerful contractions because you don’t lose energy through unnecessary muscle and joint movements.
Generally, improving your balance will make you feel steadier and avoid falls. The system that helps us attain balance includes our inner ear, our vision, our legs, and joints. When we get older, this system tends to break down. Performing regular balance exercise can help prevent and reverse these losses. There are now specialized balance exercise classes in gyms and senior centers. It’s never too early to start these types of exercise.
If you have any particular balance problem, it might be a good idea to seek the services of a professional therapist who will recommend specific exercises that target your weakness areas. Some of the traditional balance exercises include walking heel to toe or standing on one foot with your eyes closed or open and walking on uneven surfaces. To strengthen your leg muscles, your therapist may recommend exercises such as leg lifts and squats.
Balance exercises are also good at reducing injury risk especially if you have suffered an injury before. For instance, when you sprain your ankle or knee, there is a very high chance that it might occur again. That is because when you injure your ankle, the muscles around the joint fail to contract in a coordinated manner which destabilizes the joint. Doing balance exercises after an injury retrains your muscles to contract together in coordination, which stabilizes the joint and prevents injury.
Most athletes use balance exercise to help them enhance stability during sports activities. Balance exercises are light and safe, so you can do as much as every day if you like.
How to avoid injury during balance exercise
As earlier mentioned, this is a true type of training. The main risk is that you might fall. So just make sure your surrounding is safe, and the floor or board that you are working on is stable and made of non-slippery material. Start with lighter balance exercises such as shifting your weight from one foot to the next for a few seconds. Increase the complexity of the workouts gradually.
- Stretching and flexibility exercises
Many people often overlook this category of exercise when their muscles are healthier. But as we age, our muscles, joints, and tendons tend to lose flexibility. Muscles shorten and become stiffer which increases the risk of muscle pain and cramps, strains, muscle damage, falling and joint pain.
Stretching and flexibility exercises enhance your range of motion during joint and muscle movements. Flexibility exercises are also great when performed after anaerobic workouts as they improve circulation and muscle recovery. Poor recovery, prolonged muscle tightness, and poor posture can shorten your muscles over time. Regular stretching and flexibility exercises help to stretch out your muscles and prevent shorting and subsequent injuries.
Plan to perform stretching exercises at least 3 or 4 times a week. Start with a few dynamic stretches such as arm circles to improve your circulation. Follow this with static stretches for the hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, quadriceps, as well as shoulder, lower back and neck muscles. Be careful not to stretch your muscles too far into the extreme range as this may be counterproductive. Also, start with slow stretches and listen to your body. As with the other types of exercise discussed above, you may want to work with a professional trainer or watch online videos to learn the right technique.
How to avoid injury during flexibility injury
Avoid doing static stretches before you warm up your muscles as this may cause damage. Also, do not bounce when performance static stretches as this commonly cause tiny tears in your tissues and impair your flexibility. It’s ok to feel a mild pull during stretching, but if you feel a sharp pain, then you are overstretching.
Ideally, you should include all the above five types of exercise in your workout program. This, however, doesn’t mean that you should do five separate workouts. You can combine some categories together, such as balances and strength training. For example, you can start with some warm up stretching workouts, then do balance and strength exercises followed by aerobic exercise. If you are not sure about any technique or have any physical injury or condition, consider consulting a physical therapist for the right kind of training regime.