The Different Shades of Exercise and Why you Need Each Kind | Guest Post

It’s time for guest post. I know I am bombarding you all with chaat recipes, so here is  a non-recipe guest post about exercises. I am really excited to post about this topic. I would like to thank Jennifer from Team EnergyFirst for sharing this topic.

“Exercise” is really just an umbrella term for several different types of exercise. In general, exercise falls under three main categories:

  • Aerobic exercises
  • Anaerobic exercises
  • Flexibility exercises

Each of these categories has a different effect on the human body. Put simply,

  • Aerobic exercises, also known as “cardio” workouts, are aimed at increasing cardiovascular endurance. Cardiovascular endurance is a fancy way of saying how strong your heart is. A healthy heart is able to properly provide enough oxygen to muscles during physical activity for a prolonged amount of time.
  • Anaerobic exercise involves short, high-intensity, strength-based activities aimed at developing stronger muscles.
  • Flexibility exercises help increase mobility of muscles and joints and decrease risk of injury.

#1 Aerobic Exercise

How Strong is Your Heart?

“Aerobic” actually means “with oxygen”. Aerobic exercises strengthen the most important muscle in your body, the heart muscle. These types of activities rely on your heart’s ability to provide oxygen to muscles involved in the workout. Aerobic activities include walking, running (marathon-running, not sprinting), cycling, swimming, hiking, or even playing tennis. These activities are usually carried out at a low to moderate level of intensity for a longer period of time.

A strong heart has a direct effect on your athletic performance and muscle health since it can efficiently control oxygen flow to all other muscles. A strong, healthy heart can also help you avoid major chronic diseases, including cardio vasular disease, diabetes, stroke and hypertension.  A strong heart can help you breathe better.

Cardio exercise can aid in weight loss and weight management. Aerobic exercise can even boost the immune system’s ability to fight infections.

For diabetes patients, aerobic exercise is as important as a healthy diet. It improves blood sugar, reduces their risk for cardiovascular disease, and improves overall well-being without the side effects of prescription drugs. For type 2 diabetes patients, physical activity targets the central problem -insulin resistance. Exercises increases insulin sensitivity, which can help increase the clearance of glucose from the blood and into the muscle. In fact, the American Diabetes Association states that one bout of physical activity can provide short-term improvements in insulin action for up to 3 days.

The benefits go beyond physical, though. Research shows that aerobic exercise also improves brain function and mental health. Aerobic exercise can stimulate the release of endorphins, natural mood boosters and painkillers.

Aerobic activity also keeps the mind sharp by preventing natural age-related declines and enhancing memory, learning, and the ability to multitask. As a plus, these results are seen in both men and women of all ages.

Get the Most Out of it!

Whether its a day-long adventure race, a cycling class at the gym, or a jog through the forest preserve, the difference from participating in the activity and actually succeeding in reach your endurance and cardio goals depends on how you fuel your workout.

Aerobic exercises require higher energy needs, easily digested and quickly absorbed carbohydrates, and a high quality lean protein to meet demands. Many athletes find that a healthy shake with natural whey protein powder works great as a pre-workout fuel and a post-workout recovery drink. Also, skipping meals throughout the day will only hurt your efforts.

#2 Anaerobic exercise

How strong are your muscles?

The truth is that muscle is harder to build and maintain as we age. We tend to start losing muscle mass around age 30. Each decade after that comes with a 3-8% further loss of muscle mass.

We need not let this happen, though. The most common type of anaerobic exercise, strength training, is key to building and maintaining muscle. A regular strength training program should include working all the major muscle groups (abdomen, shoulders, arms, legs, hips, back, and chest) at least two times each week. Activities include weight lifting with weight stacks, dumbells, plates, or machines, resistance bands, push-ups, pull-ups, or sit-ups. 

When regularly and properly performed, anaerobic strength and resistance exercises provide functional benefits for muscles, joints, and ligaments, reduce the risk of injury from weak muscles, help build and maintain strong bone density and decrease the risk of osteoporosis, and helps improve balance.

A weight training program has been shown to help adults prevent, treat, or even reverse the impact of cancer, arthritis, coronary artery disease, depression, dementia, hypertension, and osteoporosis.

As with aerobic exercise, however, to reap the most benefits from anaerobic exercise, good nutrition is essential. Don’t waste a workout. Consuming a high-quality protein shake (such as with a natural whey protein powder) immediately after your workout will help supply your muscles with the raw material needed to build and repair lean muscle mass. Also, don’t skip meals throughout the day. Muscles need a constant supply of fuel. If tempted to skip a meal, aim for a convenient, nutritious, complete shake or smoothie. A natural, high-quality green drink powder can pack as many as 5 to 7 servings of fruits and vegetables into one scoop.

 #3 Finally, there’s Flexibility

If there’s a neglected exercise out there it has to be flexibility exercises. In many cases, they’re cut out of the routine because of lack of time. In reality, though, they are just as important as any other strength or endurance workout. Why?

Consider some of the benefits of flexibility exercises:

  • Decreased risk of injury
  • Stress relief
  • Mental relaxation
  • Less stiffness and pain in the lower back, neck, and shoulder
  • Enhanced posture, balance, and coordination
  • Improved circulation
  • Increased joint range of motion

Aim for at least 30 minutes of stretching into your week. Try different types of stretching, including static stretching, dynamic stretching, ballistic stretching, or foam roller workouts. Make sure to stretch out all major muscle groups, from the neck and shoulders, abdominal and upper back, to the legs and lower back.

 The High Cost of Inactivity
While the benefits of exercise are encouraging, it’s also important to consider the risk of lack of exercise. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, with at least two days of muscle strengthening activities.

What happens when we don’t meet these guidelines? Physical inactivity can increase the risk of obesity, weight problems, poor blood glucose control, low HDL cholesterol levels, high LDL cholesterol levels, high triglycerides, and even premature death.

About Author: 


Gerry Morton is the CEO of EnergyFirst, holds an MS in Nutrition and is an experienced athlete who has competed in 30+ marathons and 4 Ironman triathlons. Energyfirst is known for offering the world’s best tasting, highest quality, all natural, premium nutrition products such as whey protein powder, energy bar, green drinks etc. On twitter @EnergyFirst.

All image credits: EnergyFirst

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