Exercise and physical activity fall into four basic categories—endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Most people focus on one activity or type of exercise and believe they’re doing enough.
But each type of exercise is different. Targeting all four types will give you more benefits and help reduce boredom and reduce risk of injury.
The National Institute of Health breaks down the four types of exerice below. Some activities fit into more than one category. For example, many endurance activities will also build strength and many strength exercises help improve balance.
Endurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. They keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and improve your overall fitness. Building your endurance makes it easier to carry out many of your everyday activities.
- Brisk walking or jogging
- Yard work (mowing, raking, digging)
Strength exercises make your muscles stronger. They may help you stay independent and carry out everyday activities, such as climbing stairs and carrying groceries. These exercises also are called “strength training” or “resistance training.”
- Lifting weights
- Using a resistance band
- Using your own body weight
Balance exercises help prevent falls, a common problem in older adults. Many lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance.
- Standing on one foot
- Heel-to-toe walk
- Tai Chi
Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber. Being flexible gives you more freedom of movement for other exercises as well as for your everyday activities.
- Shoulder and upper arm stretch
- Calf stretch
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.