Four Types of Exercise for a Well-Rounded Routine

women running

There are four main types of exercise we should be doing regularly: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility

Each of these four types of exercise are important in keeping us healthy and fit throughout our lives. 

  1. Endurance exercises, also called aerobic or cardio exercises, strengthen your lungs, heart, and circulation. This type of exercise includes anything that makes you breathe harder and causes your heart to beat faster. Doing regular endurance exercises can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.  Depending on your fitness level, try walking, jogging, running, biking, dancing, hiking, jumping rope, playing with the kids, or even cleaning the house! “Start small and add in activity when you can. Adults should aim for 150 minutes of physical activity each week. You can build up to this time as you gain stamina. 
  1. Strength exercises make your muscles work harder than normal and are helpful in building the strength of your bones and connective tissues. Strength exercises can help lower your risk of injury and make everyday activities and movements easier.  Strength exercises often include weights, but they don’t have to! You can also do “body-weight” exercises like push ups, squats, sit ups, planks, chair sits, and calf raises. Try to exercise all your major muscle groups equally (chest, back, arms, legs, abs, and shoulders).
  1. Balance exercises help you in your everyday life with everything from walking, to picking things up, to climbing the stairs. This type of exercise gets you familiar with how your body moves and carries weight and helps you learn to distribute your body weight more evenly in different positions and movements.  Yoga is a great way to practice balance, but you can also do simple balance exercises on your own: try standing on one foot, lifting up onto your toes, and walking heel to toe in a straight line. 
  1. Finally, flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and keep you moving freely as you age. This type of exercise can also help you stay comfortable when you’re stuck sitting for long periods of time, like during a long trip or in a meeting. There are two types of flexibility exercises, dynamic and static. Check out our previous blog post for a more in-depth description of each.  Typically, static stretches where you hold the same position for 15-30 seconds are more helpful in increasing flexibility, but both types are important for maintaining flexibility and preventing injury.

For more information visit these resources: Strength and Balance Exercises, Balance Exercises, Flexibility Exercises 1, Flexibility Exercises 2 

Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine, and stop if you feel any pain.


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Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

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Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
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