4 Exercise Categories for Overall Health

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These 4 exercise categories have helped me maintain my grueling schedule of runway shows, TV and film, on set shoots, print & fitness shoots, so I wanted to share and hope it works for you. I try to get these in at least 4X a week combined with a daily healthy nutrition program.

When you think of exercise, you may imagine strenuous activities such as
running or biking — the ones that make you breathe hard, turn flush and drip
with sweat. But aerobic activity is only one type of exercise, and although it
is critical for boosting fitness, there are actually three other types of
exercise that are also important: strength training, balance training and
flexibility training.

Each type of exercise is important in its own way, and doing all four types is
the way to maximize your fitness and prevent injury, experts say.

“While aerobic exercise is very important, it’s not as effective for overall
health” when done alone compared with when people include all four types of
exercise in their routine, said Dr. Edward Laskowski, co-director of the Mayo
Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Rochester, Minnesota. “They all kind of go
together” and complement each other, Laskowski said.

For example, strength training makes muscles stronger, which, in turn, helps to
support and protect joints — and this could help prevent injury during aerobic
exercise. Meanwhile, balance exercises use muscle strength in a coordinated
fashion to stabilize your movements, and can reduce the risk of injuries such as
ankle sprains, Laskowski said.

In addition, you could be very fit aerobically, but “if you’re not flexible,
you’re still going to pull something when you’re training,” said Kelly Drew, an
exercise physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine. Flexibility
also helps you do strength training, because it improves your range of motion
around your joints, ensuring you can perform lifts and other strength moves
effectively, Drew said.

To dig up the most important information on these exercise types, Live Science
spoke with experts and reviewed the latest scientific research. Below, are
descriptions about the four types of exercise and the benefits of the particular exercise type, as well as how much you need to do and how to avoid injury during the activity. You should design ways to incorporate all four types of exercise into your workout regimen.

Aerobic exercises, such as running, swimming or dancing, are activities that
work your cardiovascular system — they get your heart rate up and make you
breathe harder. This type of exercise can reduce the risk of cardiovascular
disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, and may even lower the risk of
cancer.

Strength exercises, such as weight lifting, push-ups and crunches, work your
muscles by using resistance (like a dumbbell or your own body weight.) This type
of exercise increases lean muscle mass, which is particularly important for
weight loss, because lean muscle burns more calories than other types of tissue.

Balance exercises  improve your ability to control and stabilize your body’s
position. This type of exercise is particularly important for older adults,
because balance gets worse with age.But balance exercises can be beneficial for
everyone, including people who have gained or lost a lot of weight or those who
become pregnant, which can throw off your center of gravity, Drew said.

Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and may improve your range of motion
at your joints. They can improve your flexibility, and reduce your risk of
injury during sports and other activities.

Putting it all together
Ideally, you should include all four types of exercise in your workouts. But
that doesn’t mean you have to do four separate workouts, Drew said. You can
combine some exercises together, like strength and balance training. For
example, you could do bicep curls while standing on one leg. Some workouts, such
as yoga, incorporate strength, flexibility and balance exercises.

A sample workout might include running or walking briskly for 30 minutes on a
treadmill for aerobic exercise, then doing strength and balance exercises
combined, and finishing by doing some static stretches, Drew said. “Your
exercise program should include a bit of all four [types of exercise],” Drew
said.