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A person on the floor stretching their left leg in the air. They are laying on a purple yoga mat in the middle of their living room.

What Kind of Exercise is Essential for a Healthy Body?

Arguably, the health and fitness industry is over-saturated with workout programs, exercise routines, weight loss programs, exercise challenges, and more. It’s not too difficult to find types of exercise you enjoy and ones that can help you achieve a healthy body.

However, it does force you to sometimes weave through the weeds to find a workout that you like and that feels right.

While many individuals exercise to tone up or lose weight, the ultimate goal should be to obtain good health and feel good. But at the same time, a ‘healthy body’ may look different for different individuals.

So, how can you find a workout routine that suits your needs? And what really is ‘health’?

The Definition of a Healthy Body

The first thing to note is that a healthy body is only defined by internal health, not external looks. There is a stigma that exists about what health looks like, often playing into stereotypes that we as a society need to overcome.

A healthy body from the outside can look different from person to person and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health. What works for one person may not work for the next. And that’s okay!

So instead of defining what we can perceive as a healthy body, let’s focus on how our own body health feels: A healthy body feels good because it has stable energy, open and accepting emotional energy, solid digestion, and good sleep. These are all signs that your body is functioning metabolically well. This means that the chemicals in your body are balanced and everything is functioning relatively as it should.

Surprisingly, there are other signs of a healthy body too. For instance, having full hair, strong nails, healthy teeth, healthy gums, and having a bowel movement at least once a day further indicates a good state of health.

Did you know? Sleep is just as important as healthy eating and exercise.

Achieving Health

There are so many factors to consider when actively trying to be healthy. When we focus beyond exercise, there is so much to juggle: A healthy diet, therapy/journaling, healthy self-care habits, full amounts of sleep.

When it comes to exercise, in particular, a one-size-fits-all program may not be the best for the general population. Individuals may require different modifications. At different states of health, certain precautions should be taken.

Yet, at the same time, the general outline tends to remain the same. There’s some solid research supporting the idea that certain types of exercise are important to include in your regular routine.

So, what are they?

Types of Exercise for Good Health

1. Aerobic Exercise

Experts recommend about 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week and it doesn’t have to be an intense workout. This is any movement that gets your heart and breathing rate up. It targets your heart and lungs (undeniably, important organs!). It also improves your endurance.

Research also indicates that aerobic type exercises help decrease blood pressure, reduce blood sugar levels, decrease inflammation, improves mood, and much more.

In turn, this can help you thwart heart disease and diabetes - especially as you age.

A person walking on a walking path wearing leggings and running shoes.

5 Aerobic Exercises You Need To Try

  1. Walking (Walking once a day for 30 minutes is a great way to get your aerobic fitness in.)
  2. Swimming/water aerobics (an excellent option for individuals with arthritis, injuries, back pain, or joint problems.)
  3. Kickboxing
  4. Inline skating
  5. Water aerobics

2. Strength Training

To maintain muscle mass as you age, you have to work at it. And that’s where strength training comes in. It not only contributes to increased muscle, but it also helps you maintain your independence and regular activities as you get older. It can further prevent injuries and pain down the road.

A person dead lifting dumbbells.

5 Basic Strength Training Moves

When it comes to strength training, basic moves that you should include in your regular routine (2-4 times a week) include…

  1. Squats
  2. Deadlifts
  3. Chest press
  4. Lunges
  5. Push-ups

There are also various modifications for these types of exercise if you are unable to perform the full movement.

For example, if you can’t perform a squat, try a wall squat. If you can’t do a deadlift, use dumbbells and reduce your range of motion during this movement. There are always options!

3. Flexibility Exercises

As time goes on, we also tend to lose our flexibility - unless we work at it. This is where stretching comes in - think yoga or Pilates type moves.

Regular stretching can also help reduce your risk of experiencing pain from an injury. It can, like strength training, further help you perform your regular activities - without worry.

Ideally, you should stretch every day. However, if we’re being more realistic, aim for at least three times a week.

Two people stretching on yoga mats.

7 Places Your Should Stretch More Often

There are 7 problematic areas where tension tends to build. You should stretch your…

  1. Hamstrings
  2. Quadriceps
  3. Hip flexors
  4. Back
  5. Shoulders
  6. Neck
  7. Calves

Try this next! Low Impact Exercises You Can Do At Home

4. Balance Exercises

Some individuals easily get this component of exercise through strength training or flexibility movements. For example, if your strength training program includes single-leg movements, such as a single leg deadlift, you’re probably okay when it comes to balance.

If you don’t target it on the regular, you should absolutely start! Balance is another aspect that fades with age. Yet, practicing it can keep your balance in tip-top shape and contribute to overall good health by preventing falls or injuries.

Two people doing a v-sit while holding hands.

Use These 3 Types of Exercises For Better Balance

  1. Tai Chi
  2. Yoga
  3. Calisthenics (Example: flamingo stand, heel-toe walking)

You can also simply practice a few balance exercises each day or every other day. To do this, time yourself standing on one foot. When this becomes easy, do the same balance movement but on a pillow (ensure this pillow is on a grippy surface so you don’t slide on slippery flooring).

Find a Routine that Works for You

Realistically, any exercise that you enjoy is good exercise. Further, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. This is why it’s also important for optimal health to focus on what you eat, as well as your stress levels. Exercise is only one piece of the puzzle.

Health is more than physical. Learn how exercise can improve your mental health here.

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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