What is Exercise?

  • Exercise movements can be classified as flexibility, aerobic or anaerobic.
  • Flexibility exercises help increase range of motion of a joint, through stretching, in order to enhance performance of the muscles and connective tissues.
  • Aerobic (with oxygen) exercises are sustained, continuous movements like cycling, walking, running, etc. that strengthen our heart and lungs.
  • Anaerobic (without oxygen) exercises can only be performed for short periods of time, like weight lifting and sprinting, and are used to increase our muscles’ ability to perform better.

The word exercise comes from the root word exert meaning to exert one’s power or influence. The act of exerting your physical body requires movement. There are many ways to move your body and gain health and fitness benefits.

There are three basic ways to think about movement of the body:

  • flexibility
  • aerobic movement
  • anaerobic movement

Flexibility exercises help increase range of motion of a joint. This type of movement is based in stretching and the outcome is intended to improve the functional movement of the muscles and connective tissue in order to enhance optimal performance.

Aerobic exercises, by definition, are rhythmic in nature and are sustained, continuous movements. The term aerobic means with oxygen. During aerobic movement the body can produce energy at the same rate energy is being used. Therefore, aerobic activities can be done over an extended amount of time. Aerobic activities strengthen the cardiovascular systems in the body. The systems being impacted are the heart, lungs and vascular system. There are many ways to move the body that can be classified as aerobic. Some examples of aerobic activities include cycling, walking, running, jumping rope and swimming.

The exercise session

  • Each exercise session should incorporate the following five elements: 
  • Warm up – 3-5 minutes; increases body’s core temperature and allows the cardiovascular system to adjust blood flow
  • Aerobic training – Improves capacity of the heart and vascular system and is critical for achieving and maintaining ideal weight
  • Post aerobic cool down – 3-5 minutes of slower paced aerobic training; allows blood in the extremities to be balanced throughout the body
  • Anaerobic training – Connective tissue will be warmed up and ready to safely experience overload.
  • Flexibility stretching – Stretch and hold for a minimum of fifteen to thirty seconds. Try to complete stretches for all the major muscle groups and joints.

The warm up is essential to prepare the body to engage in more strenuous activity. It helps reduce the risk of injury, increases the core temperature of the body and allows the cardiovascular system to adjust blood flow. The warm up should last between three and five minutes, depending on the activity you will do and your fitness level. Typical warm-ups might involve moving your limbs around and rotating and bending the various joints.  More advanced warm-ups could involve jumping jacks and other typical calisthenics.

The aerobic training component improves body composition, the capacity of the heart and vascular system and is critical for achieving and maintaining ideal weight. We know that the weight bearing aerobic activities like walking and jogging help to increase bone density and are especially helpful for individuals with diabetes.

The post aerobic section will follow the aerobic exercise. This is usually three to five minutes in duration. During the post aerobic period, simply do what you were doing during the aerobic time just at a slower pace. This will allow the blood in the extremities to be balanced throughout the body.

The muscular strength and muscular endurance anaerobic training should follow the aerobic training in a traditional workout since the muscles and connective tissue will be warmed up and ready to safely experience overload. This can be done using free weights, machines, hydraulics, bands or even body weight engaging in exercises like lunges, sit-ups, pull-ups and push-ups. There is considerable research indicating that the best anaerobic activities involve isometric exercise. Isometric exercise is a form of exercise involving the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint.

Last, you will need to engage in focused stretching of major joints surrounded by muscle groups. Stretch and hold for a minimum of fifteen to thirty seconds per movement. As the muscles and joints allow, continue to increase range of motion while performing a static stretch in alignment. Try to stretch all the main muscles groups and joints.