Everybody is different. Really- every body. This means not every exercise is the best for different age groups, health goals, or physical abilities. The National Institute on Aging indicates four main types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Let’s walk (no pun intended) through each category and discuss which type is best for different bodies.
These activities are also known as aerobic, which means the heart rate remains high and breathing intensifies consistently. Common exercises include:
- Brisk Walking
Younger and more athletically inclined bodies and people without many joint injuries typically perform these at a faster pace. Water aerobics or less intense versions of these are great for older or injured folks. If you’re interested in a more active lifestyle, these exercises are for you.
This group typically consists of movements that require concentration on specific muscle groups rather than full-body movement, as listed above. Breathing is steadier, and the heart rate is lower than aerobic exercise. Common exercises include:
For those of you interested in toning your body, try strength exercises. Different body goals can be achieved in combination with diet and the frequency of workouts. However, younger and older people are discouraged from lifting weights too heavy to avoid injury and health complications.
Balancing exercises are usually not front of mind for most people; however, they are essential. These low-impact movements focus on strengthening joint and core muscles to prevent falling. Common exercises include:
- Bosu stands
- Tai Chi
- Weight shifts
- Single leg stands
- Low-impact yoga poses
Balance is great for everyone without a recent injury. These can help improve strength as well as endurance. In physical therapy, these exercises are great for regaining balance after ankle or knee injury, so be careful not to further prevent healing by vigorously performing these exercises.
This final category focuses on stretching muscle groups for improved range of motion.
Common exercises include:
- Controlled lunges
- Hamstring and calf stretch
- Toe touches
- Shoulder stretches
Lastly is flexibility. This increases mobility and complements all other exercises by preventing injury and stimulating proper blood flow throughout the body. When doing flexibility exercises, it’s important not to overdo it! Hyperextending body parts can pull muscles and set back health goals. Slow and steady is the key, as your flexibility improves over time.
You can see that not every exercise is ideal for everyone; when done improperly or overdone, it can cause injury or health concerns. Therefore, we recommend consulting a professional trainer or physical therapist to learn proper techniques to avoid negative experiences.