Different types of exercise affect your body in different ways. A well-rounded exercise program for weight management includes 3 basic elements:
- Aerobic exercise
- Resistive or strengthening exercise
Aerobic exercise is the rhythmic pumping of the arms and/or legs designed to get the heart working harder and blood pumping faster than normal. A healthy exercise habit for weight management and overall improved health should include 20-60 minutes of aerobic activity 3 to 5 times per week. Just starting to exercise? Build up your aerobic activity over time. Aerobic exercises include:
- Jumping rope
- Many other activities
Resistive or Strengthening Exercise
Resistive or strengthening exercise increases muscle mass, which increases your metabolism and strength. Strength training isn't just for body builders. Many strengthening exercises also help improve your balance and endurance for everyday activities. Resistive exercises can be done using:
- Free weights, like dumbbells (or soup cans, or other household items)
- Weight machines such as those in a gym or fitness center
- Elastic bands
- Your own body weight
When starting any strengthening activities, you should work with a knowledgeable trainer such as a physical therapist, exercise physiologist or your doctor to make sure you're doing the exercises properly and getting the greatest benefit from your efforts.
Stretching is important! Stretching increases your flexibility, helps prevent injuries, and can be very relaxing. It's good for your physical and mental health. The 2 most important things to remember when stretching are:
- Do each stretch slowly
- Hold each stretch for 30 seconds
Wondering when to stretch? The good news is you can stretch almost anytime and almost anywhere. However, exercise experts say it may be more important to warm up before exercising, and to stretch after exercising.
As always, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor or ask a fitness expert about tailoring your exercise and fitness program to your specific weight management needs and goals.