Finding the right balance of physical activity

You know you’re supposed to exercise regularly. But did you know that just logging minutes on the treadmill won’t do it? You need a combination of exercises to be at your best.

The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (DPHP) recommends that American adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or at least 75 minutes of strenuous exercise per week. But the recommendations go beyond that.

To be at your best, you want to create a workout regimen with these three key parts:

  • Aerobic exercise. This is probably the type of physical activity you think of when you hear the word “exercise.”

Aerobic exercise, often referred to as “cardio,” gets your heart rate up. This type of activity helps keep your heart and lungs operating in top shape and improves your overall physical fitness.

Anything from brisk walking to dancing and jogging to lawn work can be considered cardio — as long as you’re performing the exercise at a rate that makes breathing more difficult and gets your heart pumping.

  • Strength training. While aerobic exercise is good for keeping your heart in shape and improving your endurance, you also need physical activity that helps build and strengthen your muscles. That’s where strength training comes into play.

This type of exercise, also called “resistance training,” is performed using some type of resistance, whether that’s your own body weight, a set of resistance bands, or weights.

Trying to lose weight? You may have always heard that you need tons of cardio to lose weight, but actually, you need to incorporate strength training. Regular strength training will help reduce body fat and increase muscle, which will allow the body to burn calories more efficiently.

Strength training is also important as you age, since it helps preserve and strengthen muscle mass. The DPHP recommends adults do muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups at least twice a week.

  • Balance training. This might be the most ignored of the types of exercise, but only because most people tend to not think about it. But it’s just as important as the first two types we’ve discussed.

As we age, falls are more common. In fact, one in four seniors falls at least once each year. Our balance worsens for a variety of reasons as we grow older, but we can take steps to improve it.

Include balance exercises as part of your normal workout routine. These exercises are simple and often resemble basic stretches. The National Institutes of Health offers some examples.

Just because you need to incorporate multiple types of exercise into your workout regimen doesn’t mean it needs to be difficult. This principle still holds true: Find exercise that you enjoy. You’ll be more likely to stick with it.

Before starting any new exercise regimen, you should check in with your doctor. Need a doctor? Find one here.