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Components of Exercise Programs: Aerobics, Strength Training & Stretching

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  • 0:01 Three Components of Exercise
  • 0:25 Different Types of Stretching
  • 2:27 Aerobic Exercises and…
  • 4:24 Strength Training
  • 5:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Ever wonder what stretching, strength training, and aerobic exercises are? You'll learn about them in this lesson. You'll also find out what some basic recommendations are for each type of exercise.

Three Components of Exercise

Which of the following are the most important for your health? Aerobics, strength training, or stretching? Technically, you can say that it depends on what you're aiming to do. Maybe you want to be Mr. Universe, Ironman, the best runner at your city's marathon, or a rhythmic gymnast. All are commendable, and all require at least some of all three components of exercise we're going to be discussing.

Different Types of Stretching

Flexibility, the ability for joints to move through their normal range of motion, may be improved through stretching, exercises designed to allow for the lengthening of a muscle. Stretching is just one component of exercise programs for everyone from runners to tennis players to even weightlifters.

Actually, there's more than one kind of stretch exercise that you can employ in order to try and improve your flexibility, and we'll have time to discuss a couple of them in more detail right now.

One of these is called static stretching. This is a type of stretch exercise where you hold a position in place. It's easy to remember since the word static means that that there's no movement.

So, in static stretching, you may hold a certain position for about 10-30 seconds after slowly lengthening the muscle to that position. Examples of static stretch exercises include:

  • Quadriceps stretch
  • Groin stretch
  • Hamstring stretch

On the opposite side of the spectrum of stretch exercises is something called ballistic stretching. The word ballistic implies someone has gone crazy and is performing wild movements quickly and repeatedly.

So, in ballistic stretch exercises, you forcefully stretch your muscles by doing something like bouncing or bobbing up and down to touch your toes in multiple dips in quick succession. This type of stretching, unlike static stretching, is more likely to lead to injury and isn't recommended for all people.

Overall, though, the American College of Sports Medicine, recommends the following when it comes to flexibility:

  • Adults should perform flexibility exercises 2-3 days a week.
  • A stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds at the point where there is a bit of discomfort.
  • Repeat the stretch 2-4 times, for a total of 60 seconds per stretch.
  • Try to perform these exercises when the muscles are warm, such as after a hot bath or after light aerobic activity.

Aerobic Exercises and Endurance

Speaking of aerobic activity, running, walking, bicycling, and swimming are some examples of aerobic exercises, exercises that build cardiorespiratory endurance. Cardiorespiratory endurance is defined as the ability to sustain high levels of energy for a long period of time thanks to heart, lung, and blood vessel maintained supplies of oxygen and other nutrients.

That sounds a bit more complex than it really is. Think back to the time when you last ran. Your heart rate increased, your breathing rate increased as well, and your pulse was jumping out of your skin. This happened because the muscles you were using to run start begging for energy.

To produce energy for movement during running, your muscles need lots of oxygen. Your lungs inhale more oxygen as you breathe faster, your blood becomes filled with oxygen thereafter, and your heart pumps this oxygen rich blood really quickly to the muscles that were asking for it in the first place.

The reason aerobic exercises should be a component of your exercise program is multidimensional. Aerobic fitness has been shown to:

  • Increase aerobic capacity, a sign of the ability of the body to use oxygen effectively during exercise. This capacity increases with exercise as your heart muscle becomes stronger and works better with your lungs during exercise.
  • Increase bone strength
  • Control weight
  • Help a person sleep better
  • Release feel-good hormones
  • Improve the immune system to ward off stuff like the cold and flu

Adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, like brisk walking, per week. Preferably this should be over the course of several days and each exercise session should last at least 10 continuous minutes. The frequency, intensity, and duration should be gradually increased to avoid risk of injury.

Strength Training

Other than stretching and aerobic exercises, another common component of an exercise program is strength training, a physical activity that uses resistance to build muscle strength. Strength obviously helps you lift more stuff. But muscular strength training goes beyond lifting heavy boxes when a neighbor you've talked to once in your life asks you to help them move. (I hate when that happens!)

If your muscles are strong and healthy, they also help support your joints and help to build strong bones. The obvious way to build strength is to lift weights, but you can also use resistance bands in order to increase your strength if lifting weights isn't an option for you.

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