When you exercise, chances are you probably walk, run, swim, take a yoga class, weight train, or play some sort of sport. However, did you know that there are actually three components to a well-balanced exercise routine? Just walking, running, or swimming does not meet all three components and, therefore, is not considered a balanced routine. The three components to a well-balanced exercise routine include aerobics, strength training, and flexibility. Individually, different components of exercise have their purpose. But when combined, you get a powerful, balanced fitness regimen that promotes optimal health.
Let's discuss in detail the importance of each element.
Aerobic fitness (also known as cardiovascular endurance) refers to your body's ability to efficiently and effectively intake oxygen and deliver it to your body's tissues by way of the heart, lungs, arteries, vessels, and veins.
Cardio is any activity that gets your heart rate pumping and your pulse rate increasing, oxygenating your blood. All of this increases your stamina, which is great for your heart health and overall wellness. In fact, aerobic exercise should be the foundation of every fitness regimen.
Some examples of aerobic fitness include running, speed walking, stair climbing, cycling, swimming, jumping rope, stair climbing, and high-intensity interval training.
In order to be effective, aerobic exercise should be performed four times a week for 30 minutes or more at a training heart rate of 50-90%. People who are just beginning may need to start at 5minutes and then gradually add time on until they reach 30 minutes or more.
Just like aerobics, weight lifting exercises also play a crucial role in your overall health. Lifting weights can increase muscle strength, tone muscles, increase metabolism, and help manage your weight. It allows the body to retain and increase muscle mass. When we lose muscle mass we not only lose strength but decrease our metabolism.
Building muscle is beneficial in two major ways: your muscle supports your joints, so strong muscles can help prevent injuries; and it is better to have more muscle than fat because muscle burns more energy than fat does, meaning that even when you are not exercising you’re burning more calories.
Some examples of strength training: resistance machines at the gym, free weights, barbells, resistance bands, push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, lunges, and squats.Recommended frequency: at least twice a week.
The last component is the most avoided stretching. Stretching keeps your range of motion and reduces your chance of injury. Maintaining flexibility is important especially as you age. Being flexible allows you to move faster, easier, and more freely, without stiffness, aches, and pains.
Flexibility exercises are best done when the muscle is warm. Warm muscles perform better. Active short duration flexibility exercises of 5-10 seconds, can be performed as part of a warm-up. Static flexibility exercises, where the exercise is held for longer durations of 30-60seconds, should be performed at the conclusion of your workouts. Its recommended that you stretch after every time you exercise.
Some flexibility focused workouts include yoga, dance, Tai Chi, and Pilates
These three elements are just a part of the overall umbrella of fitness. Creating a fitness plan that incorporates each of these elements can help ensure that you have well-balanced workouts and the most health benefits from your routine.