The 4 most important types of exercise

Strengthening,stretching, balance, and aerobic exercises will keep you active, mobile, and feeling great.

Exercise is key to good health. But we tend to limit ourselves to one or two types of activity. “People do what they enjoy, or what feels the most effective, so some aspects of exercise and fitness are ignored,” says Rachel Wilson, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In reality, we should all be doing aerobics, stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises. Here, we list what you need to know about each exercise type and offer examples to try, with a doctor’s okay.

1.Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise, which speeds up your heart rate and breathing, is important for many body functions. It gives your heart and lungs a workout and increases endurance. “If you’re too winded to walk up a flight of stairs, that’s a good indicator that you need more aerobic exercise to help condition your heart and lungs, and get enough blood to your muscles to help them work efficiently,” says Wilson.

Aerobic exercise also helps relax blood vessel walls, lower blood pressure, burn body fat, lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, boost mood, and raise “good” HDL cholesterol. Combined with weight loss, it can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, too. Over the long term, aerobic exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, breast and colon cancer, depression,and falls.

Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity. Try brisk walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, dancing, or classes like step aerobics.  Read More