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These four types of exercise benefit the entire body

GEHA | July 18, 2022

Exercise Everyday health Health and wellness
It’s never too late to get moving.

Standard, routine physical activity benefits everybody, regardless of age, ethnicity or ability. Some of the benefits of regular exercise include improved brain health and weight management, and reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Here are the four types of exercise recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Cardiorespiratory exercise, also called cardio or aerobic exercise, includes distance running, swimming, cycling, jumping rope and brisk walking. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. There are two options:

  • 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week,  
  • 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise three days each week. 

Resistance exercise builds tone and muscle strength. These are the exercises most people associate with going to the gym, including lifting weights and exercise tubing. Adults should train each major muscle group a minimum of two days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment. 

  • Very light or light-intensity exercise is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults starting out. 
  • Two to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise helps improve strength and power.  

Flexibility exercise encompasses stretching and yoga. Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion. 

  • Each stretch should be held for 10 to 30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort. 
  • Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch. 

Neuromotor exercise is sometimes called functional fitness training and combines parts of the other three exercise groups. Neuromotor exercise is recommended two or three days each week. 

  • Exercises should involve motor skills (balance, agility and coordination) to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults. 
  • Examples include doing Tai Chi or yoga for 20 to 30 minutes each day. 

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Sources:
“Benefits of Physical Activity.” cdc.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 April, 2022.
“Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” Health.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Second Edition, 2018.
“What are Examples of Cardiorespiratory Endurance Activities?” medicinenet.com, WebMD, 2 November, 2021.
“Resistance Training.” Emedicinehealth.com, WebMD
“Flexibility Exercise (Stretching).” heart.org, American Heart Association, 18 April, 2018.