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Four Essential Forms of Exercise

Skiing: great aerobic exercise

Skiing: great aerobic exercise

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that exercise is good for you.  Among the countless benefits are: makes you feel more energetic, improves circulation, enhances brain power and productivity, burn calories, reduces the risk of many chronic illnesses, elevates and stabilizes mood and improves strength, coordination, agility, speed and flexibility.

When I visit my local YMCA, I’m always impressed to see so many people taking personal responsibility for their health, with regular exercise. I worry however that people may be neglecting one or more, of the essential forms of exercise.

I have a confessional at this stage, in my twenties as a “junior doctor” and in my thirties, as a busy mom, I did very little formal exercise. Sure I was always rushing around, but I know it wasn’t enough. I then began to exercise in my late thirties, finding a new love of exercising. Until, WHAM BAM, after a Zumba class, I tore the cartilage in my hip. Months of agony followed, until I felt I had no alternative but to have surgery. A slow long recovery, brought me back to 95 percent of normal function. This whole experience left me regretting, not having taken exercise more seriously when I was younger; core exercises may well have prevented this most unpleasant injury.

Your weekly routine

In order to maximize the health benefits of exercise, variety is essential. Your weekly routine should include: aerobic, muscle strengthening, core and coordination exercises.

Aerobic exercise

Also known as “cardio”, aerobic exercise increases your heart rate and makes you breathe faster and more deeply. Running, cycling, skiing, rowing or brisk walking are common types.

Muscle strengthening

Muscle strengthening becomes increasingly necessary as we age. Muscle bulk reduces with age, making falls and injuries more common. Methods include lifting weights, resistance band work and physical work, such as gardening. Work on all areas of the body, and you will improve your shape and tone as well as general strength.

Core exercises

Before you men out there breathe a sigh of relief, let me tell you core exercises are not just for women. Your core muscles are those in and around your abdomen and pelvis and they are essential for balance, stability, continence and preventing back and hip injuries. In order to benefit from core exercises you must do them correctly. The good thing about core exercises is that they can be done at home, with little or no equipment. Examples include sit-ups, the bridge and the plank. For people with pelvic floor problems “Kegels” exercises will be of benefit.

Coordination exercises

Coordination exercises are particularly important for athletes and people as they age, in order to prevent falls. Try skipping with a jump-rope, tai chi or dancing. Important aspects of coordination are balance, rhythm, spatial orientation and reaction to visual and auditory stimuli.

Some exercise disciplines combine types of exercise, like yoga and dance classes, so are particularly great for overall health. a weekly routine containing all 4 types of exercise will improve your general health, keep you from getting bored and make you look and feel great. Don’t forget if you have any injuries or chronic illness, always check with your doctor before starting any new form of exercise.


Dr Leonaura Rhodes