When it comes to exercising, you need to cover all your bases, because all physical activities fall into four basic categories. The four pillars of exercise are endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Exercise is not just about activities that make you breathe hard; rather, each type of exercise helps you to maximize your fitness and prevent injury.
The regular gym goer often neglects a couple different types of exercise. People typically focus on aerobic exercises or strength training, but it’s integral to incorporate all four types because they work together. For instance, strength training helps to strengthen muscles, which helps to protect your joints and reduce your risk of injury during aerobic exercise. Balance exercises require strength to stabilize movements, and you need flexibility to do a variety of activities.
Aerobic exercises are any activities that increase your heart rate and breathing. These types of exercise work to improve endurance and keep the circulatory system healthy. Some aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, running, dancing, cycling, swimming, or even doing yard work.
Strength exercises work to increase muscle strength. Making your muscles stronger can help you lift heavier or carry out everyday tasks like climbing stairs, moving stuff around the house, or carrying groceries. You may also be familiar with the term, “resistance training,” which also strengthens your muscles. Strength exercises can include weightlifting, using resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, or squats).
Balance exercises work to stabilize your body’s position. As we age, it is integral to maintain balance in order to help prevent falls. Balance exercises can also be beneficial for those who have gained or lost a lot of weight, or women who become pregnant. Great balance exercises include heel-to-toe walk, Tai Chi, yoga, or standing on one foot.
Flexibility exercises help you stay limber by stretching out your muscles. Not only do these exercises improve flexibility and reduce your risk of injury during exercise, they also help to increase your range of motion. Great flexibility exercises include yoga, calf stretch, shoulder & upper arm stretch, and quadriceps and hamstring stretch.