exercise types 2

I brisk walk 5 times a week, 5 km. each time. I thought I was doing pretty good for someone my age, until my peers told me their routines to keep fit. It turned out I was missing out a lot, as I’ve neglected many important components in my exercise.

First, I only walked, a good but still only one form of aerobic exercise. Other cardio-vascular or endurance exercises include jogging, swimming, cycling, skipping rope etc., all working on the heart and lungs to improve overall fitness. However, I’ve ignored all anaerobic exercises to increase strength, balance and flexibility. That’s like eating only fruits and vegetables, but not meat, grains or dairy. That’s good as far as it goes, but not wholesome. You need all the other types of exercises, just as you need all food groups to be healthy.

Strength or resistance exercises aim to build up the muscles. This helps to control blood pressure and blood sugar, since muscles burn sugar more rapidly. It also builds bone mass or density to prevent osteoporosis, all important things to watch for as we grow older. Popular exercises include weight lifting, pull-ups/chin-ups, using a resistance band etc.. But since I prefer being able to exercise without equipment, I favor using your own body weight such as push-ups, planks, sit-ups/crunches, squats, climbing stairs etc.

If you have a strong heart and muscles but are not steady, you’ll fall and hurt yourself. Such injuries can be fatal for seniors. To improve stability we need balance exercises such as standing on one foot, heel to toe walking etc. Some like Tai Chi, which is ok as an exercise. The advantage of balance training is that it can be practiced anytime, anywhere, without equipment. For that matter, you don’t even need gym clothes, which is very convenient.

The last type is flexibility. As we age our joints become stiff and muscles lose their tone, and all kinds of aches and pains develop. To counteract this we exercise to keep our limbs supple, such as shoulder and chest stretches, lunges, hamstring/calf stretches etc. Some suggest Yoga, which I do not recommend, because it is really Hindu religion postures.

If you have all 4 types in your routine, you will have a complete work-out of your various systems. Interestingly, these 4 are also important in your spiritual training, which we will explore in the next few posts.

(To be continued)

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