Types of Exercise

The two basic types of exercise include:

  • Aerobic exercise: any activity involving large muscles, done for an extended period of time. Aerobic exercise is done primarily for cardiovascular fitness and weight loss.
  • Anaerobic exercise: any activity that does not require oxygen for completion of movement. Usually refers to resistance training. Anaerobic exercise is done primarily for increased muscle mass and toning.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise has three important parts:

  • Warm-up - three to five minutes of exercise at a lower intensity (for example: speed or grad for treadmill) to warm up your muscles and slowly increase your heart rate
  • Conditioning - aerobic exercise conducted for a specific duration (e.g. 30-45 minutes) in which the target heart rate is achieved and maintained.
  • Cool-down - three to five minutes of exercise at a lower intensity to bring down your heart rate and lessen risk of injury
  • Mode — The type of activity you choose to do. Activities should include those that work the large muscles, such as walking, jogging, swimming, aerobic dance, or cycling. There are many types of exercise you can do. Find an activity you enjoy and will tolerate long term.
    Recommended: any activity that you enjoy.
  • Intensity — How hard you work for the duration of the activity.
    Recommended target heart rate: 60% to 80% of your predicted maximum heart rate.
    (Predicted maximum heart rate = 220 minus your age).

For example: a 45-year old person’s maximum heart rate would be 220-45 or 175; the target heart rate range (60%-80% of maximum heart rate) would be from 105-140 beats per minute. Another way to determine the intensity of your activity is the Rated Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE).

Those with heart disease should discuss exercise with their physician. Some heart conditions may require a modified or supervised exercise program. Medications may have an effect on heart rate; therefore if you are taking any cardiac or blood pressure medications, ask your doctor if they have any impact on your target heart rate.

  • Duration – Length of time of the activity.
    Recommended: 30 to 60 minutes, depending on your goals.
  • Frequency – The number of days per week that you exercise.
    Recommended: three to seven days per week, depending on your goals.

The American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines call for a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity performed at moderate intensity (60%-80% maximum heart rate), either in one continuous period or in intervals of at least 20-minutes duration on most -- preferably all -- days of the week. This is the amount called for to reduce the risk of coronary disease. It is equivalent to briskly walking at least 1.5 miles per day or raking leaves for half an hour. For weight control, you may need to increase the amount of time you exercise to burn more calories.

Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic exercise involves using free weights or machines to build muscle mass and tone.

  • Mode – The activity that you choose to work a particular muscle group.
  • Intensity – The amount of weight you lift during a set.
  • Repetition – A complete movement of a particular exercise.
  • Sets – A group of repetitions. For toning, 12 to 20 repetitions with lighter weights are usually recommended. In contrast, fewer repetitions (such as 8 to 12) with heavier weights are performed to build muscle mass.
  • Recovery – The amount of time you rest in between sets. The recovery ranges from 0 to 180 seconds.
  • Frequency – The number of days per week that you perform strengthening exercises. Strengthening exercises should be performed with a day or two of rest in between workouts.