Exercises are generally grouped into three types depending on the overall effect they have on the human body.
The three main categories are: Aerobic exercises, such as cycling, walking, running, hiking, and playing tennis. Anaerobic exercises, such as weight training and flexibility exercises such as stretching. Aerobic and anaerobic are the most common so here is an overview of their qualities:
Aerobic or cardiovascular refers to exercise that involves or improves oxygen consumption by the body.
There are various types of aerobic exercise. In general, aerobic exercise is one performed at a low to moderate level of intensity over a longer period. For example, running a long distance at a moderate pace is an aerobic exercise, but sprinting is not.
Among the recognized benefits of doing regular aerobic exercise are a stronger heart, weight loss, improved stamina, and improved mental health.
Anaerobic exercise is the type of exercise that enhances power and builds muscle mass.
The most common form of anaerobic exercise is strength exercise, which is the use of resistance to muscular contraction to build the strength, anaerobic endurance and size of muscles.
There are many different methods of strength training, the most common of which are weight and resistance exercise. When properly performed, strength training can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being; including increased bone, muscle, tendon and ligament strength, toughness and endurance, improved joint function and improved cardiac function and develop co-ordination and balance.
Aerobic versus Anaerobic
Frequent and regular aerobic exercise has been shown to help prevent or treat serious and life-threatening chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, type 2 Diabetes, insomnia, and depression.
Strength training appears to have continuous energy-burning effects that persist for about 24 hours after the training, though they do not offer the same cardiovascular benefits of aerobic exercise.
Not everyone will benefit equally from the different types of exercise. There is tremendous variation in individual response to exercise, where most people will see a moderate increase in endurance from aerobic exercise, some individuals will as much as double their oxygen uptake, while others will not see any benefit at all from the exercise.
Similarly, only a minority of people will show significant muscle growth after prolonged weight training, while a larger fraction experience improvements in strength.
That is why people should experiment and try different types of physical activity so that they find what type of exercise they like and what works for them.