Four types of exercise can improve your health and physical abilities

Learn about the four types of exercise and how they can benefit you. For workout videos and examples of how to do some of the exercises listed below, visit NIA’s YouTube channel.

Most people tend to focus on one type of exercise or activity and think they are doing enough. Research has shown that it is important to practice all four types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Everyone has different advantages. Doing one type can also improve your ability to do the others, and variety helps reduce boredom and risk of injury. No matter your age, you can find activities that match your physical condition and your needs!

Endurance exercises for the elderly

Endurance activities, often called aerobics, increase your breathing rate and heart rate. These activities help you stay healthy, improve your physical condition, and complete the tasks you need to do every day. Endurance exercises improve the health of your heart, the lungs and the circulatory system. They can also delay or prevent many common diseases in the elderly such as Diabetes, colon and Breast cancer, heart disease, and others. Physical activities that build endurance include:

  • Brisk walk or jog
  • Gardening work (mowing, raking)
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Climbing stairs or hills
  • Play tennis or basketball

Build up your stamina or “stamina” to help you keep up with your grandkids on a trip to the park, dance to your favorite songs at a family wedding, rake the yard, and rake leaves. Get at least 150 minutes of activity a week that makes you breathe hard. Try to be active throughout the day to achieve this goal and avoid sitting for long periods of time.

Safety tips

  • Do a little light activity, like easy walking, before and after your endurance activities to warm up and cool down.
  • Listen to your body: Endurance activities should not cause dizziness, chest pain or pressure, or heartburn.
  • Make sure you drink fluids when doing an activity that makes you sweat. If your doctor has told you to limit your fluid intake, be sure to check before increasing the amount of fluid you drink during exercise.
  • If you are going to be exercise outsideBe aware of your surroundings.
  • Dress in layers so you can add or remove clothing as needed in hot and cold weather.
  • To avoid injury, use safety equipment such as a helmet when ride a bike.

A word of advice: test the intensity of your exercises

When you’re active, try talking: If you’re breathing hard but can still carry on a conversation easily, that’s a moderate-intensity activity. If you can only say a few words before you have to breathe, that’s vigorous-intensity activity.

Strength exercises for the elderly

Your muscle strength can make a big difference. strong muscles help you stay independent and make daily activities easier, like getting up from a chair, climbing stairs and carrying groceries. Keeping your muscles strong can help with your balance and prevent falls and fall-related injuries. You are less likely to fall when your leg and hip muscles are strong. Some people call using weight to improve your muscle strength “strength training” or “resistance training.”

Read and share this infographic and help raise awareness of the daily benefits of exercise and physical activity. (Courtesy of the National Institute on Aging)

Some people choose to use weights to improve their strength. If you do, start by using light weights at first, then gradually add more. Other people use resistance bands, stretchy elastic bands of varying strengths. If you’re a beginner, try exercising without a band or use a light band until you’re comfortable. Add a band or switch to a stronger band (or more weight) when you can easily do two sets of 10-15 reps. Aim to do resistance training for all your major muscle groups at least 2 days a week, but don’t exercise the same muscle group 2 days in a row. Here are some examples of strength exercises:

Safety tips

  • Do not hold your breath during resistance exercises and breathe regularly.
  • Exhale as you lift or push and inhale as you relax.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are unsure about a particular exercise.

Balance exercises for the elderly

Balance exercises help prevent falls, a common problem in the elderly that can have serious consequences. Many lower body exercises will also improve your balance. Balance exercises include:

Safety tips

  • Have a sturdy chair or someone nearby to hold you if you feel unsteady.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are unsure of a particular exercise.

Flexibility exercises for the elderly

Elongation can improve your flexibility. Moving more freely will make it easier for you to bend over to tie your shoes or look over your shoulder when pulling your car out of the driveway. Flexibility exercises include:

Safety tips

  • Stretch when your muscles are warmed up.
  • Stretch after endurance or strength exercises.
  • Don’t stretch so much that it hurts.
  • Always remember to breathe normally while holding a stretch.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are unsure of a particular exercise.

Learn more this topic in spanish. Sober Lea is this theme in spanish.

For more information on exercise and physical activity

American Physical Therapy Association
[email protected]

About Shirley A. Tamayo

Check Also

Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder with an Exercise Routine

Contents As the days get shorter and darker, people may feel affected by Seasonal Affective …