Basics of Exercise: What You Really Need to Know to Get Started


Definition of exercise: bodily or mental exertion, especially for the sake of training or improvement of health

You can prevent a lot of ailments, diseases, and injuries by maintaining a regular exercise routine.

When you begin to think about exercise, it can be overwhelming.  There are so many types, you hear what is good, and you hear all the bad.  Everyone seems to be able to tell you the best way to exercise, and when you Google it, you find more information than you need.

Today, I want to simplify exercise for you so you can get started living a healthier life.

Exercise Types

There are so many variations and styles to choose from, but they can all be categorized into three main types. Flexibility, aerobic, and anaerobic exercises.

Flexibility exercises are those that improve your body’s range of motion.  You stretch and move your joints and muscles in a way that increases your body’s natural ability to do functional tasks such as reaching for that cup out of the cupboard or bending down to pick that piece of paper up off the floor.

These exercises include:

  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Pilates

Aerobic exercises are those that improve the function of your circulatory system.  You may often hear them called cardiovascular (cardio) exercises.  You can breathe better and can complete endurance activities such as walking up and down stairs, talking on the phone, and playing with your kids.

These exercises include:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Cycling

Anaerobic exercises are those that improve your muscle strength, most of the time referred to as strength exercises or strength training.  You can complete daily tasks, stand up and sit down, and carry your groceries easier.

These exercises include:

  • Weight training
  • Sit-ups, pushups, and squats
  • Pilates

You may have heard about these exercises and may have even noticed that some can count as multiple types.  This is why it can be confusing when you begin an exercise routine.  If you want more help creating the perfect exercise routine for you, take a moment to read The Perfect Fitness Routine.”

Benefits of Exercise

The list of the benefits of exercise is exasperating.  The main benefit of exercise is to keep you healthy and in peak physical fitness.

It also helps you maintain a healthy weight, optimal bone density, healthy joint mobility, strong muscles, and healthy mental wellness.

Along with these benefits there are many others:

  • Improves hypertension, cardiovascular disease, insomnia, obesity, and depression
  • Helps control diabetes
  • Increases blood flow throughout your body
  • Helps protect against neuromuscular and neurodegenerative disorders

Exercise Hazards

I am going to be honest here, there are just as many hazards as there are benefits.  When done improperly they can have ill effects on the body.  When done without knowing your limits, they can have ill effects on your body.  And, when done without medical supervision, they could have ill effects on your body.

It is important that you know which exercises your body can and cannot do.  There are certain medical conditions that may keep you from performing certain exercises.  Instead of forcing your body to do them, discuss your body’s ability with your doctor. 

As an example: if you have a heart condition, you do not want to do exercises that are going to exert your body to the point of worsening the condition.  Running may be out of the question for you, but you could possibly go on short walks.

It is important that you listen to your body as well.  If your body is overly tired and unable to properly perform an exercise, you could end up injuring yourself.  Exercise is as much about form as it is completing the activity.

Another thing you need to be aware of is the fact that too much exercise can be harmful as well.  As with most things in life, moderation is key.  If you are overweight, or extremely out of shape you do not want to start with highly intense workouts or long endurance workouts.  Instead, start with small 10-20 minute workouts that get your heart rate up.  Continue these until your body has built skill, the strength, and the cardiovascular endurance to complete the more intense workouts.

Using a proper routine with small steps and a healthy diet, anyone can exercise for health benefits.  Make sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any routine.  Maintaining a regular exercise routine will lead to living a healthier, happier life where you get more done and have more freedom.

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