Levels of exercise
There are many levels and kinds of exercise that can keep your body healthy. Learn more about different kinds of exercise and how they work!
- Levels of exercise
- What kind of exercise does your body need?
- Examples of aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening exercises
- Light – not sweating; not breathing hard (slow walking, dancing)
- Moderate – breaking a sweat; can talk but can’t sing (walking fast, dancing)
- Vigorous – sweating, breathing hard, can’t talk or sing (running, swimming laps)
No matter what level at which you are exercising, the activity can be one of three types: aerobic exercise, muscle-strengthening exercise, or bone-strengthening exercise.
It’s important to remember that as you exercise more and more, activities that were once vigorous may become moderate. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself! After several weeks or months of training, try jogging for longer distances or at a faster rate.
Exercise should increase your heart rate and move the muscles in your body. Examples include swimming, dancing, skating, playing soccer, or riding a bike.
Exercise should include something from each of these four basic fitness areas:
- Cardio-respiratory endurance is the same thing as aerobic endurance. It means using your heart and lungs nonstop. When you exercise, your heart beats faster, sending more needed oxygen throughout your body. If you are not fit, your heart and lungs have to work harder during exercise. Long runs and swims are examples of activities that can help your heart and lungs work better over a long period of time.
- Muscular strength is the ability to move a muscle against a resistance. To become stronger, you need to push or pull against resistance, such as your own weight (like in push-ups), using free weights (note: talk to an instructor before using weights), or even pushing the vacuum cleaner. Regular exercise keeps all of your muscles strong and makes it easier to do daily physical tasks.
- Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle, or a group of muscles, to keep pushing against resistance for a long period. Push-ups are often used to test endurance of arm and shoulder muscles. Aerobic exercise also helps to improve your muscular endurance. Activities such as running increase your heart rate and make your heart muscle stronger.
- Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and make them long. Reaching for your toes is a good measure of flexibility of the lower back and backs of the upper legs. When you are flexible, you are able to bend and reach with ease. Being flexible can help prevent injuries like pulled muscles. This is why warming up and stretching are so important. If you force your body to move in a way that you aren’t used to, you risk tearing muscles, as well as ligaments and tendons (other parts of your musculoskeletal system). Yoga increases muscle-strength and flexibility.
Examples of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activities and muscle- and bone-strengthening activities for children and adolescents
|Type of Physical Activity||Age Group Children||Age Group Adults|
Note: Some activities, such as bicycling, can be moderate or vigorous intensity, depending upon level of effort
Source: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, Chapter 3.
Content last reviewed July 24, 2013
Page last updated October 31, 2013