The health benefits of regular physical activity are significant, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Consistent exercise may help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers. Staying active can also boost your energy and mood, help you better handle stress, and improve your overall well-being.
To get the most out of your workouts, try including four types of exercise—endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance—in your routine. It’s not necessary to incorporate them all every day, but variety helps keep the body fit and healthy and makes exercise interesting.
Also called cardio or aerobic exercise, endurance exercise includes activities that increase your breathing and heart rate. Examples include walking, jogging, swimming, biking, and gardening. Endurance activities keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and improve your overall fitness. As a result, people who get the recommended amount of regular physical activity can reduce their risk of many diseases. The AHA recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate to vigorous activity per week.
Strengthening your muscles gives you the ability to perform everyday activities and helps protect your body from injury. Stronger muscles also boost your metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories even when your body is at rest. You can build muscle using free weights, machines, or your body’s own resistance.
Good balance is important for the activities you do every day, such as walking and going up and down the stairs. You may not even be aware that you have weak balance until you try balance exercises. While individuals of any age can benefit from balance training, older adults at risk of falls should do balance exercises three or more days a week.
Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and help you to move freely. The best time to do flexibility exercises is when your muscles are already warm so they can stretch farther without tightness or pain. It’s a good
idea to do stretching exercises three to five times during each workout. Always stretch slowly and smoothly into the desired position, as far as is comfortable for you. Stretching shouldn’t feel painful. Don’t worry about how far the person next to you can stretch. Do what is right for your body.
Learn more! For tips on getting active and staying motivated, visit the AHA site: www.heart.org/ en/healthy-living/fitness.