4 types of exercise that can improve health and help as one ages

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Physical fitness is one of the most important aspects of health. It plays an integral role in preventing many diseases and can even help manage certain conditions. while, there is a greater emphasis on the activities that reduce the risk of certain diseases or that help with physique, but there are actually four different types of exercise that can greatly improve your health and become especially important as you age.  اضافة اعلان

1- Endurance exercises

Endurance exercises are commonly referred to as aerobic exercises. They are the cornerstone of disease prevention and management due to the great benefits they have on the cardiovascular system.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) make three recommendations on how much aerobic exercise one should get a week: 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week (30 minutes a day for 5 days); 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week; or an equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic exercise.

Aerobic exercises increase heart and breathing rates, and are of a wide variety. Examples of moderate aerobic exercises include brisk walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, and dancing. Vigorous aerobic exercises include jogging or running, but also many newer fitness regimens such as Crossfit or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

As we get older, it becomes harder to perform vigorous activities, so moderate exercises may be a better option. Still, vigorous exercises are a better option for younger individuals, as they are higher impact. High-impact exercises help strengthen bone mineral density which is important in the prevention or slowing the progression of osteoporosis. All aerobic activities have additional benefits. In the short-term, they help improve blood circulation and relax vessel walls, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, burn body fat, reduce inflammation, improve mood and mental health, and also help raise the HDL (the “good” cholesterol) while lowering the LDL (the “bad” cholesterol).  
In the long-term, aerobic exercises dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers.
In the long-term, aerobic exercises dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. Aerobic exercises can also help manage symptoms for those already suffering from certain condition and help slow the progression of the disease; just be sure to consult your doctor on a regimen appropriate for you.

2- Flexibility exercises

Flexibility exercises typically center on stretching. It is an underappreciated form of exercise that should be incorporated more into physical activity and daily routine.

To date, the CDC has no recommendation on the amount of stretching that should be done in a week. However, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends stretching a minimum of 2-3 times per week, but states that daily stretching is most effective.

ACSM recommends that adults hold each static stretch for 10-30 seconds, but in older individuals, each stretch should be held for 30-60 seconds. Our joints and muscles have an elastic property and as we age, they become less and less elastic. This greatly increases the risk of muscle cramps and pain, damage to the muscles, strains, and joint pain.

By stretching daily we ensure that muscles and tendons remain loose and elastic. In addition to reducing the risk of injury, stretching also helps improve the range of motion and mobility, and reduces preexisting pain.

Many people prefer to perform stretching exercises in the morning to help prepare for the day ahead of them. Stretching can be done as part of other physical activities, such as aerobic exercises and strength training exercises. If you prefer to stretch as a warmup to exercise, it is recommended to start with dynamic stretches (performed while moving around) and end your workout with static stretches (performed while sitting down or standing).

3- Strength exercises

Strength training exercises are not only for body builders; they should be incorporated into regular physical fitness. The CDC recommends two or more days a week of strength training that works all the major muscle groups, which includes the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.

The gym is an excellent place to do your strength training exercises. Typically, gyms utilize weight resistance (weightlifting) and work muscle groups in isolation. This form of exercise is ideal for people looking to change their physique. For those who avoid the gym, weights are not the only way to strength train. Exercises such as squats, pushups, pullups, and planks use the weight of your body to provide resistance.

The goal of strength training is to build or preserve muscle mass. Just as we lose bone density as we age, we also lose muscle mass. Improved or preserved muscle mass is not just for looks, it is important for performing daily activities and general mobility.
Improved or preserved muscle mass is not just for looks, it is important for performing daily activities and general mobility.

Additionally, strength training helps strengthen bone, lowers blood sugar, and helps reduce stress and pain in problem areas such as the back and certain joints. 

4- Balance exercises

The three aforementioned exercises prevent disease and injury in direct ways; balance exercises, however, take a more indirect approach. Despite this, balance exercises are still important and should be incorporated into physical activity. Fortunately, there are many exercises that involve balance in some form or another. For example, dancing is an excellent aerobic exercise, and it also includes elements of balance. Similarly, most sports, such as soccer, are aerobic but also include balance exercises in the form of agility training. Performing these forms of exercise at a younger age helps maintain balance later in life, but it should still be practiced as we age.

Our sense of balance can diminish with time; at the same time, certain traumas or diseases can also affect our balance. As we age, the risk of simple falls resulting in injury becomes higher. Our bones naturally become weaker, and falls can break bones, which is debilitating. Even as a young adult, you should incorporate forms of balance exercise in your activity.

Activities such as yoga, Pilates, and tai chi focus on balance and stretching. For those who are looking to specifically work on balance, there are exercises designed to help improve it. These can include practicing standing on one foot, walking heel to toe, and balance walk, which is a form of walking where you stare at a spot ahead of you and walk in a straight line. As you walk, pause to lift the back leg while staring at the spot.

Balance exercises are simple and straightforward in nature, and they are very beneficial. If you are older and would like to perform these exercises, consult your doctor first. It is best to have support around you, such as a chair or a wall, and even better if you can have someone assist and supervise you. 

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