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What are the different types of exercise?
What are the goals of exercise?
Rules for any exercise
Aerobic (Endurance) training
Strength or Resistance training
Flexibility training (Stretching)
Specific exercise tips for older people
Written by : DoctorNDTV Team
Consultant Physiotherapist,
Apollo clinic,
  • What are the different types of exercise?

    Physical activity includes all forms of activity (occupational, recreational, or sports-related) performed without the specific purpose of fitness or health.
    • Aerobic (e.g. walking, swimming)
    • Anaerobic (e.g. sprinting)
    • Isometric (e.g. lifting weights)
    Resistance training involves providing some form of resistance to the contracting muscles to stimulate the body for increased strength. Equipment used for resistance training takes multiple forms, including hand weights, pulleys, hydraulic, elastic, rubber, fibreglass, and magnetic equipment.

    Strength or resistance training is very important to improve ones functionality and reduce the risk of injury. As people age, the lean tissue (i.e. muscle) declines more from lack of use than from ageing itself. Performing some type of resistance training on a regular basis is essential.

    Safety Since the demand on the heart is generally less while strength training than when walking at a moderate pace, resistance training is regarded as safe for patients with heart conditions. It is advisable never to strain or hold breath in an attempt to lift something. Straining can adversely affect blood flow to the heart.
  • What are the goals of exercise?

    The goals of exercise are to:
    • Improve oxygen delivery and metabolic processes
    • Build strength and endurance
    • Decrease body fat
    • Improve movement in joints and muscles
    • Improve sense of well-being
    • Slows down ageing process
  • Rules for any exercise

    Rules for exercises:
    • Do not eat for two hours before vigorous exercise
    • Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after a workout
    • Adjust activity according to the weather and reduce it when fatigued or ill
    • Be realistic in your goals
    • Combine exercises with any pleasurable activity
    When exercising, one is advised to listen to the body’s warning symptoms, and consult a physician if exercise induces chest pain, irregular heartbeat, undue fatigue, nausea, unexpected breathlessness, or light-headedness.

    Warm-Up and Cool-Down Period. Warming up and cooling down are important parts of any exercise routine. They aid the body in making the transition from rest to activity and back again and can help prevent soreness or injury, especially in older people.
    • Warm-up exercises should be practiced for five to 10 minutes at the beginning of an exercise session. Older people need a longer period to warm up their muscles. Low-level aerobic exercise, such as walking briskly, swinging the arms, or jogging in place are the best.
    • To cool down, one should walk slowly until the heart rate is 10 to 15 beats above resting rate. Stopping too suddenly can sharply reduce blood pressure. This is a danger for older people, and may also cause muscle cramping. Breathe deeply during the cool off phase.
    • Stretching is appropriate for the cooling down period, but not for warming up because it can injure cold muscles. Particular exercises may require stretching specific muscles. For example, a jogger or biker might emphasise stretching the hamstrings, calves, groin, and quadriceps, while swimmers would focus on the groin, shoulders, and back. Stretching is best done when joints are lose and flexible that is in the afternoons or evenings.
  • Aerobic (Endurance) training

    Aerobic exercises are those that require a steady supply of oxygen, to sustain the energy giving powers of the muscles .An aerobic exercise is any activity performed for a minimum of 20 minutes maintaining a heart rate between 70%-80% of maximum heart rate with chief energy sources being oxygen and body fat.

    Aerobic exercise is usually categorised as high or low impact.

    Low to moderate impact exercises: such as walking, swimming, stair climbing, step classes, rowing, and cross-country skiing. Nearly anyone in reasonable health can engage in some low to moderate impact exercise. Brisk walking burns as many calories as jogging for the same distance and poses less risk for injury to muscle and bone.

    High impact exercises: such as running, dance exercise, tennis, squash etc. High-impact exercises should be performed no more than every other day and less for those who are overweight, elderly, out of condition, or have an injury or other medical problem that would preclude high-impact.

    Benefits of aerobic exercise

    Regular aerobic exercise provides the following benefits:
    • Builds endurance
    • Keeps the heart pumping at a steady and elevated rate for an extended period, boosts HDL (the good) cholesterol levels, and helps control blood pressure
    • Strengthens the bones in the spine
    • Helps maintain normal weight.
    Circuit Training: Circuit Training is one of the best forms of aerobic exercise .You need to choose that fits your goal. For example, circuit training for endurance, weight loss, muscle building will be different Since this includes a full body work out and uses all muscles, you will feel refreshed and less sore as this helps the body to remove toxins which build up in the body after vigorous activity and your muscles recuperate faster because of the increased blood flow.
  • Strength or Resistance training

    Types of muscle contractions: There are three types of muscle contractions involved in strength training:
    1. Isometric contractions. There is no change in the length of the muscle. For example, pushing against a wall.
    2. Concentric contractions. These movements shorten muscles (for example, the up phase of when the bicep curls up while lifting weights).
    3. Eccentric contractions. These movements lengthen muscles (the down phase as the weights are lowered).
    To build muscle strength, steadily increase the weight that a muscle resists. If you are in the middle age group or old age group, take care, as there can be a sudden rise in the blood pressure due to unaccustomed effort. Weight training is safe when properly supervised and controlled.

    Benefits of strength exercise

    While aerobic exercise increases endurance and helps the heart, it does not build upper body strength or tone muscles. Strength-training exercises provide the following benefits:
    • Builds muscle strength while burning fat
    • Helps maintain bone density
    • Improves digestion
    • It appears to lower LDL (the ‘bad’) cholesterol levels
    • Improves neuromuscular coordination
    • Increases flexibility and speed
    • Increases utilization of glucose in the body and reduces the possibility of adult onset diabetes.
    Beginners should always start with low weights irrespective of their goals. For fitness, use lightweights and many repetitions. For bodybuilding, you need to use higher weights.
    Breathe easily while lifting weights. Breathe out while lifting. Breathe in while bringing a weight back. Eat sensibly. Take a meal within an hour of your workout. Take time to see a change in your body. Be prepared for this. Each person takes a different time to get used to a particular exercise routine. So do not compare and be discouraged.
  • Flexibility training (Stretching)

    It is now recommended that one should perform stretching exercises for 10 to 12 minutes at least three times a week. The following are some general guidelines:

    • When stretching, exhale and extend the muscles to the not pain, and hold for 20 to 60 seconds. (Beginners may need to start with a 5 to 10 second stretch)
    • Breath evenly and constantly while holding the stretch
    • Inhale when returning to a relaxed position. (Holding ones breath defeats the purpose; it causes muscle contraction and raises blood pressure.)
    • It is important when doing stretches that involve the back to relax the spine, to keep the lower back flush with the mat, and to work only the muscles required for changing position, often only the abdomen.
    • Avoid doing stretches the first thing in the morning. They are best done when the joints are loose and flexible, that is in the afternoon or evening.

    Benefits of flexibility training

    • Flexibility training uses stretching exercises for the following benefits:
    • Preventing cramps, stiffness, and injuries
    • Allowing a wider range of motion (i.e., the amount of movement a joint and muscle has)
    • Certain stretching exercises are particularly beneficial for the back
  • Specific exercise tips for older people

    Here are some specific exercise tips for older people:

    • Any elderly person should have a complete physical and medical examination and professional instruction before starting an exercise programme.
    • For sedentary, old people one or more of the following programmes may be helpful and safe: low impact aerobics, gait training, balance exercises, self-paced walking, and lower extremity resistance training using elastic tubing or ankle weights.
    • Strength training assumes even more importance as one ages, because after the age of 30 everyone undergoes a slow process of muscular erosion. The effect can be reduced or even reversed by adding resistance training to an exercise programme. As little as one day a week of resistance training improves overall strength and agility. Strength training also improves heart and blood vessel health and general well being.
    • Power training, which aims for the fastest rate at which a muscle or muscle group can perform work, may be particularly helpful for older women in strengthening muscles and preventing falls.
    • Flexibility exercises promote healthy muscle growth and help reduce the stiffness and loss of balance that accompanies ageing.


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