Kinds of Exercise
Strength training keeps your muscles toned. It can also build them up (bodybuilding). To become stronger, your muscles need to work against some kind of resistance. This causes them to contract, and the more they work by contracting, the stronger you get.
If practiced safely, weight training is a great way to build strength and endurance. Unlike aerobic training, resistance training helps build more muscle mass by creating small micro tears in the muscle. New muscle grows back over the tears, and the muscle becomes stronger. Consult a doctor before starting weight training. There are two main types of weight training: free weights and weight machines.
You can use free weights such as hand weights and bar bells to work a group of muscles. Free weights sometimes require more strength than weight machines, so you should make sure you choose a weight you can handle, and use a spotter.
Weight machines usually work a single muscle or a smaller group of muscles. Be sure to use extreme caution when using weight machines—make sure that your hands and legs do not get caught in the machine. Have a fitness trainer show you how to use the machine.
Other Resistance Training
You can also use your own weight to build muscle. Exercises such as push-ups or sit-ups use your body weight to build muscle. You can also use resistance bands.
Be sure to talk to a fitness trainer before starting weight training. Here are some basic rules for beginners:
- Jog for five to ten minutes before you begin to warm up.
- Stretch after you warm up.
- Train at most two to three times a week for the first few weeks.
- Don't lift weights that you have to strain to lift. You will feel very sore after the first few weight-lifting sessions.
- Only work one or two different muscle groups each workout.
- Allow a day of rest for each muscle group after each workout.
- Stretch and cool down after each workout to reduce soreness afterwards.
- Pay attention to nutrition and make sure you're eating right.
While strong muscles are important for movement, flexibility allows you to move your muscles and joints through the full range of motion. Being flexible also helps reduce the chance of muscle injury. Ideally, stretching should be done before and after other types of exercise.
Stretching can feel great, but as with other physical activity, if you do it incorrectly you can hurt yourself. Other activities that can help increase your flexibility include yoga and tai chi.
Endurance: Aerobic Exercise
Endurance refers to how long you can keep performing an activity without tiring. Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and lungs, which in turn increases your endurance. It is also the best type of activity for burning calories and fat, and can help reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. On the days you take a break from weight training, focus on aerobic exercise such as running, biking, swimming or rowing. Teens should engage in 60 minutes of vigorous physical exercise each day.
Good activities for building aerobic fitness include:
- Slide and step aerobics
- Water aerobics
- Running or jogging
- Cross-country skiing