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Talking Health: The Vocabulary of Fitness
  • Posted September 11, 2019

Talking Health: The Vocabulary of Fitness

Doing the right amount of exercise every day is a top health goal. To make sure you're getting all the right types of exercise, you want to get familiar with these key exercise terms. Then you can be sure these activities are all part of your weekly plan.

Aerobic Exercise, AKA Cardio

Aerobic exercise means activity that requires a continuous amount of oxygen to the muscles being used. For heart health, the exercise must raise your heart rate to within the ideal range for your age, usually 70% to 80% of 220 minus your age. Cardio activities include running, brisk walking, swimming and cycling.

High-intensity interval training is a popular approach. Within a cardio workout, you alternate a few minutes of slow or no movement with shorter bursts of the activity at an all-out pace.

Cross training is simply varying your choice of cardio activity within the same exercise session or on different days of the week. This lets you use different muscle groups, helps prevent overuse injuries and keeps things interesting.

Anaerobic Exercise, AKA Strength Training

You need strength training for healthy muscles, essential for everyday activities like just getting up from the sofa. Also called weight training or resistance training, these exercises work various sets of muscles. Strength training is anaerobic, because it doesn't require extra oxygen. It should be done every second or third day. Never strength-train the same muscle groups on consecutive days -- they need time to repair after each workout.

Flexibility and Balance

Flexibility exercises, like stretching, and balance work, which can be as simple as toe raises, round out a comprehensive fitness program. These are exercises that keep you limber and steady, and may include disciplines like yoga and tai chi. They should be incorporated at least twice a week but can be part of your daily fitness regimen.

More information

The American Council on Exercise has more on these and other exercise terms to help you better understand key fitness goals.

SOURCES: Shiranee Sriskandan, M.D., Ph.D., professor, infectious diseases, Imperial College London; Marcelo Laufer, M.D., pediatric infectious disease specialist, Nicklaus Children's Hospital, Miami; Marc Siegel, M.D., professor, medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City; Sept. 10, 2019, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, online
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