Top Four Types of Exercise: Aerobic Exercise, Anaerobic Exercise, Strength Training & Stretching

Updated: Apr 18



Exercise guidelines typically recommend adding in a few different types of exercise to your routine. They recommend cardio exercise at least five times a week and strength training at least twice a week. They often recommend aerobic exercise (like jogging) for about 30 minutes, exercising for 150 minutes in all. Alternatively, you could do some anaerobic exercise (like wind sprints or HIIT) for just 15 minutes 5 times a week, for a total of 75 minutes of cardio. On top of cardio, make sure you’re getting in strength training to build muscle and stretching to stay limber and improve your workouts.


You should include four different types of exercise into your weeks. Aerobic exercise typically includes low to moderate cardio that lasts 30-60 minutes (or more) and includes hiking, cycling, swimming, long-distance jogging or walking, etc. Anaerobic exercise includes higher-intensity exercises like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or wind sprints. Anaerobic exercise typically lasts just 10-20 minutes and can quickly build strength and burn calories. Strength/resistance training makes you stronger and includes lifting weights, using resistance bands, or doing body-weight exercises like push-ups or planks. Stretching and yoga improve flexibility, help you avoid injury, and provide a great way to warm up or cool down from other exercises.


Slower, longer exercise helps you build endurance and stamina, while higher-intensity exercise builds strength and boosts metabolism. A strong exercise routine will include both cardio and strength training, and provide plenty of opportunities for rest, stretching, and self-care. This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Thanks for supporting The Superhero Handbook!



Aerobic Exercise


Aerobic exercise like low-intensity steady state (LISS) cardio builds endurance and stamina. Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone. This type of exercise includes activities such as walking, running, swimming, cycling, dancing, rowing, etc. Multiple times a week, find time for some longer and less intense activity, like an hour-long hike, swim, or yoga session. Daily walking or hiking provides Vitamin D that supports your immune system and respiratory health, and is a fantastic way to get in your aerobic exercise. If you naturally get 10,000 steps in each day, you may be able to get by with fewer long aerobic exercises weekly.

Hikes, walks, yoga, and other slower routines help you build endurance. LISS cardio involves consistent effort at a steady pace for 30-60 minutes. This low and slow exercise is a good place to start adding more cardio into your weeks if you’re not exercising much now. Plus, taking a long walk, hike, or swim is a great way to destress after (or before) a long work day. It might not always be easy to get out there and run, but get the right tools (like the allbirds pictured) to be prepared for exercise in any conditions!


You can also burn LISS calories throughout your day-to-day life if you work to get off your seat and move around. I highly recommend more daily movement, whether it’s tracking 10,000 steps or just cleaning, dancing, using a standing desk, and moving around your days.


Anaerobic Exercise


Anaerobic exercise like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) builds strength, improves your lean muscle mass and bone density, and boosts metabolism and weight loss. HIIT is an incredible asset when you’re trying to lose weight, build strength, and increase your metabolism, even when you don’t have a lot of time for exercise. Especially If you’re working from home, you can easily squeeze in 10-15 minutes of a HIIT routine before work, during your lunch break, or right after you finish work for the day.


One of the best exercises when it comes to increasing energy and losing weight is high-intensity exercise like HIIT or wind sprints. HIIT involves short bursts of high effort, followed by lower effort rest intervals. HIIT provides us with a natural high. Just 10-30 minutes of high-intensity cardio helps release brain chemicals called endocannabinoids. These make us feel good and increase our energy.

Because anaerobic exercise is high-intensity, I often suggest starting to exercise more with LISS. Then, once you’re stronger and ready to take it up a notch, add a couple of HIIT routines into your weekly schedule. When you do these higher-intensity exercises, be extra sure that you're drinking plenty of water (as you should every time you exercise), and bring a good water bottle with you to the gym.


*The Easy Win - Small Cardio Breaks*


Go search YouTube right now for ‘10 minute cardio’. You'll find such an awesome variety of free videos. You can also search for 15 minute HIIT training, 20 minute apartment cardio, or whatever you like! I like to search for ‘apartment’ or ‘silent’ cardio to find exercises that don't require jumping around since I live in a third floor apartment. My favorite YouTuber is MadFit. Even when I’m really lazy and don’t feel like doing anything, I can exercise for 10 minutes. Exercise boosts your energy and endorphins, so it’s a great tool to have on hand when you’re feeling down. You might not feel up for it at first, but it can work wonders to take a small cardio break to get your heart rate up and sweat for at least 10 minutes.



Strength Training


Strength or resistance training makes you stronger and helps build muscle. Lifting weights and using resistance bands helps increase strength, improve your metabolism, create lean muscle mass, and even improve your mental health. Weight training can help reduce anxiety and depression, and can help our brains grow and work more effectively. Lifting also decreases blood sugar and helps eliminate fat.


Body-weight exercises like HIIT, pilates, and yoga can also help build strength. These are great ways to kill multiple birds with one stone. HIIT can provide both strength training and anaerobic exercise, while yoga can provide both flexibility and strength training. However you decide to build your muscles, remember that strength training helps you burn more calories post-exercise and makes your workouts more effective, so make sure you’re plugging in at least a couple times a week to build your strength alongside your cardio routines.



Stretching


Stretching increases blood flow and gets your body ready for exercise. Stretching improves flexibility, eases movement, and lowers the risk of muscle strain. Stretching to warm-up before and cool-down after exercising helps you avoid injury and make the most of your workout. Stretching can help loosen your muscles and reduce stress.


Yoga is one of my favorite workouts to incorporate in my weekly routine. Yoga can increase flexibility, balance, and strength while reducing back pain. There are a variety of different yoga exercises you can choose from depending on whether you need a more intense or calming yoga practice. I highly recommend everyone incorporate some yoga or stretching a few times a week to keep the body working smoothly. There's plenty of youtube videos, apps, and websites that offer yoga training and classes.



Routine


There are three great times you can exercise; choose what works best for you and plug it into your routine. Exercising in the morning boosts your energy for your entire day, allows you to increase the fat-burning power of your sleep, and ensures you end the day relaxed and ready for bed. Alternatively, go for a walk mid-day, during your lunch break or right before you eat. Exercising before meals helps your body soak up sugar into your muscles so you can better burn carbohydrates and sugars more efficiently instead of putting them on as fat. Additionally, getting out for a walk or hike at this time will help you soak up the sun of the day! Exercising in the evening right after work can help you shift gears for the night, reduce stress, and regain energy going into your personal time. Try to avoid exercising late in the day, as it can negatively impact your sleep quality.


Tools For Success

Figure out what exercise you're into, then get the right equipment so that you have the right tools to be successful. I personally love exercises that I can do around my home - or walking around my neighborhood - because I'm much more likely to work out if I don't actually have to drive anywhere to do so.


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