Exercise and physical activity fall into four basic categories—endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Most people tend to focus on one activity or type of exercise and think they’re doing enough. Each type is different, though. Doing them all will give you more benefits. Mixing it up also helps to reduce boredom and cut your risk of injury.
These types include cardiorespiratory endurance, which is how long or fast a person can perform an activity and how this impacts heart rate and oxygen consumption. Muscular strength, which is how much weight can be moved in relation to repetitions and muscular power, which is how much force can be generated during a given activity. There is also flexibility, how far a muscle group can be stretched or joint can be moved. Balance how long a particular position can be held with or without some type of activity being performed. Speed, how quickly an individual can move from one point to another. And body composition, the amount of fat on the body versus other tissues such as muscle, bones and skin.
A comprehensive fitness program tailored to an individual typically focuses on one or more specific skills, and on age- or health-related needs such as bone health. Many sources also cite mental, social and emotional health as an important part of overall fitness. This is often presented in textbooks as a triangle made up of three points, which represent physical, emotional, and mental fitness. Physical fitness can also prevent or treat many chronic health conditions brought on by unhealthy lifestyle or aging. Working out can also help some people sleep better and possibly alleviate some mood disorders in certain individuals.
To get in top physical shape, you’ll need to work on three different areas of cardiorespiratory fitness. Capacity is the amount of work you can do, such as how fast you can perform a sprint or dash. Stamina refers to how long you can exercise. For example, a sprinter is faster than a marathon runner, but probably can’t run as long or as far as the marathoner. Anaerobic conditioning helps you work at very high intensities and helps you recover more quickly afterward. For example, many basketball players have no problem making fast breaks down the court, but afterward, you see them grabbing their knees, gasping for breath as they try to recover. Interval training consists of many high-intensity bursts of activity, each followed by a recovery period. These recovery periods, which occur many times during an interval workout, help you improve your ability to catch your breath after a point or play and recover for the start of the next one.