What Type of Exercise Is Right For You?

Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, Edgecliff, Marrickville, Bella VistaRandwickLindfield and Balmain today discuss the broad range of types of exercise – and most importantly what will suit you best.

The term ‘exercise’ can be overwhelmingly broad, encompassing things all the way from balancing on one leg to performing 3 rounds of a strength circuit. The fact that there are so many types of exercise out there can be intimidating especially for someone who is starting exercise or returning to it. Not only is there an excessive amount of choice that makes decision-making harder, but it can be difficult to know what types of exercises benefit you the most for your health goals. Hence, we have put together the 4 fundamental types of exercise and what they mean for you in terms of physiological health benefits.

1. Aerobic

What is it?

Aerobic exercise is defined as any form of exercise that uses aerobic metabolism, which means oxygen is heavily involved in the cellular reactions that provide the body the energy necessary to perform activity. Some popular options are running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, cardio boxing and skipping. In fact, it includes any physical activity that increases your heart rate and respiration for a sustained period of time, as well as increasing oxygen and blood flow throughout your body. Think of it as the exercise that get you huffing and puffing, but don’t make you feel like stopping to rest right away.


Essentially, you are training your heart to be more efficient in pumping oxygen-carrying blood and training the lungs to be able to take in oxygen. Research published in the American Journal of Cardiology showed the aerobic training is the most efficient form of exercise for cardiovascular health. This is especially important as Australia’s leading cause of death in 2019 is coronary artery disease (a common cardiovascular disease). Aerobic training can also lower cholesterol levels, manage weight, reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure and improve immune function. In addition to these health outcomes, aerobic training increases your aerobic capacity (i.e. your cardiovascular fitness) so that you can go for longer walks, climb up those stairs without taking a break and run errands without beings as fatigued.


A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity OR 75 minutes of vigorous intensity every week


What is it?

When people hear strength training, the common picture that comes to mind is a bunch of muscle-bound blokes in tank tops in a gym lifting heavy barbells. This is a common misconception and can also be why people might shy away from strength training. In reality, the definition of strength training refers to any exercise that cause muscles to contract against external resistance in a specified manner—also known as resistance training. It can be done with free weights, bands, machines, suspension trainers or with no equipment at all (i.e. using your own bodyweight). Example exercises include squats, push-ups, lunges, rows and planks.

When you do strength training repeatedly and consistently, your muscle fibres will undergo adaptations to become bigger and stronger—meaning greater muscle mass and strength for movement. In fact, your bones will also adapt after strength training through the increase of bone mineral density


Strength training is based on the principle that the muscles of the body will adapt to overcome a resistance force when they are required to do so. That is, when you do strength training repeatedly and consistently, your muscle fibres will undergo adaptations to become bigger and stronger—meaning greater muscle mass and strength for movement. In fact, your bones will also adapt after strength training through the increase of bone mineral density. Research has shown that lack of muscle mass, strength and bone density can lead to greater risk of injuries, falls, fractures and losing functional independence. As we grow older, our muscle mass, strength and bone density decrease, which further highlights the relevance of strength training for all ages. This is because strength training will increase your ability to perform functional daily tasks (e.g. carrying groceries), increase energy levels, enhance bone mineral density—which helps prevent diseases such as osteoporosis and reduces your chances of having fractures—, as well as improving joint health to reduce symptoms of arthritis.

Perhaps less-well recognised is the important role that muscle plays in whole-body metabolic function. For example, greater muscle mass is directly linked with a greater ability to burn calories, thus making it easier to control weight. Research has also shown the role of muscle metabolism in the prevention of insulin resistance, obesity-related issues, and cardiovascular risks through regulation of protein content in the body.


At least 2 strength training sessions on non-consecutive days of the week.

3. Flexibility

What is it?

Flexibility is defined as the range of motion in a joint or group of joints or the ability to move joints effectively through a complete range of motion. As such, flexibility training primarily involves stretching exercises that work to lengthen a muscle. There are many types of stretching including dynamic stretching, static stretching, active stretching and passive stretching. Stretching is often added on to a workout as standalone exercises, but can also form the basis of certain exercise such as yoga or pilates.


By increasing flexibility (i.e. joint range of motion), you will become more mobile. You might be thinking “so what? I’m not looking to be a gymnast or anything so why do I need to be flexible?” In reality, the idea of being flexible is always relative to the person. For some people, being able to reach behind their backs to clean themselves in the shower is their flexibility goal. Others may want to be able to reach their feet to tie their shoelaces, or to be able to reach above their head more easily to grab items off a shelf. Flexibility has many functional benefits, especially for those who wish to maintain their mobility and independence.

In addition, stretching has been shown to improve performance during exercise and reduce risks of injury. The research rationale for this is that that a limb can move further before an injury occurs. There is also evidence to suggest that muscle tightness can be decrease temporarily after being stretched.


Minimum 2-3 times per week.

4) Balance and proprioception

What is it?

Balance concerns our ability to stay safely upright, while proprioception refers to our body’s awareness of its position and movements.

In order for us to remain upright, our brain needs constant input from our muscles and joints. This input enables the brain to monitor our position and make corrections when necessary. If the brain receives poor information, or if it receives the information too slowly, then we are prone to injury, such as spraining the ankle or repeatedly irritating the knee. By undergoing balance and proprioceptive training, we train this communication system within our bodies, along with components of muscular endurance and strength. Example exercises can include standing on one leg, standing heel-to-toe with eyes closed or walking on a thin foam pad.


Having sufficient balance and proprioception is vital for jogging, walking, reducing risk of injury, falls and fractures. It increases your overall mobility, body awareness and ability to adjust to disturbances (e.g. walking on uneven surfaces, tripping)—thus improving your ability move about and perform your daily activities.


Minimum 2-3 times a week.


Ultimately, almost everyone will see benefits in all four types of exercise mentioned. In an ideal world, everyone should be doing all types of exercise. However, if you are first starting out, it is important to slowly integrate exercise into your lifestyle rather than overwhelm yourself with everything at once. It also boils down to the goals you set out for your exercise regime—for example, someone who is 25 years old may not prioritise balance training as much as a 70 year old might. Our blog today just scratches the surface of exercise so if you are still unsure of what exercise you should prioritise, or wondering how to implement these in an exercise program or which specific exercises are suited to you, contact an Exercise Physiologist today.

Contact Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Lindfield, Marrickville, Randwick, Drummoyne, Balmain, Bella Vista on 1300 964 002 to enquire today.

Written by Jackie Cheung


Andersson, M., & Christakis, N. (2016). Desire for weight loss, weight-related social contact, and body mass outcomes. Obesity24(7), 1434-1437. doi: 10.1002/oby.21512

Bateman, L. A., Slentz, C. A., Willis, L. H., Shields, A. T., Piner, L. W., Bales, C. W., . . . Kraus, W. E. (2011). Comparison of Aerobic Versus Resistance Exercise Training Effects on Metabolic Syndrome (from the Studies of a Targeted Risk Reduction Intervention Through Defined Exercise – STRRIDE-AT/RT). American Journal of Cardiology, 108(6), 838-844. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2011.04.037

Cross, K. M., & Worrell, T. W. (1999). Effects of a static stretching program on the incidence of lower extremity musculotendinous strains. Journal of athletic training34(1), 11–14.



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