Increased physical activity can help extend your life. The best type of exercise is the one you will stick with on a regular basis. A complete program does include three different types of exercise: strength training, cardio and flexibility. Performing these three types of exercise protects you from injury and helps you maintain vitality for years to come.
Lifting weights isn't just for bulky bodybuilders -- everyone benefits from adding resistance training to their routine. Strength training improves your bone density, warding off osteoporosis. It improves your body composition so you have a greater percentage of muscle mass, which boosts your metabolism and gives you a toned appearance. Developing strong muscles and connective tissues makes your body move more efficiently so your joints don't take the brunt of all your activity and experience injury. Greater strength improves your overall quality of life by providing you with more stamina and preventing many of the aches and pains that are exacerbated by inactivity.
Cardio, or aerobic exercise, strengthens your heart and burns calories to help you manage your weight. Brisk walking, playing tennis, heavy gardening, dancing, running, cycling, swimming and numerous other exercises that get your heart beating faster and your breathing deeper count as cardio. People who fit in regular aerobic exercise have lower incidences of cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. When you exercise aerobically, you release more feel-good chemicals in the brain, which boosts your mood. Regular cardio exercise builds up your endurance for day-to-day living even as you grow older.
Flexibility training may entail regularly attending a yoga class or stretching on your own several times per week. Regularly stretching improves your posture and enhances your ability to relax. It can alleviate soreness in overworked muscles, as well as stored tension from day-to-day stress. You may also prevent injury by regularly stretching.
Include all three types of exercise in your weekly routine to reap the maximum health benefits. Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as power walking, weekly. If you want to work harder and run, you need only do a minimum of 75 minutes weekly to experience health benefits. Schedule at least two total-body strength-training sessions weekly, as well. These include exercises for every major muscle group -- the hips, legs, arms, shoulders, chest, back and abdominals -- performed for one set of eight to 12 repetitions. Choose a weight that fatigues you in the last couple of reps and allow at least a day of rest between strength-training days. Squeeze in three 30-minute sessions of stretching weekly for optimal benefit. If you just don't have the time, make an effort to stretch at the end of each of your cardio and weight-training sessions for five to 10 minutes. Only stretch after you've warmed up for at least 10 minutes.