What type of workout is best for me?

Starting a new workout routine takes dedication, patience, and a little know-how. You also need to know what kinds of exercise best suit your goals.

Many health experts recommend a mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise includes activities like walking or biking. Anaerobic exercise includes strength training activities like weight lifting.

Knowing how these types of exercise affect your body can help you create a workout routine that’s just right for you.

“Aerobic” means “needs oxygen.” Aerobic exercise uses a steady supply of oxygen during exercise, while burning both fat and carbohydrates for energy. It gets your heart rate up for longer periods of time. That’s why it’s commonly called “cardio.”

Weight lifting and similar strength training activities are examples of anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise involves a short burst of intense movement, while only burning carbohydrates for energy. It does not require oxygen.

Running, jogging, walking, cycling, swimming, and dancing are all examples of aerobic exercise. Most team sports, such as tennis, soccer, and basketball, are also good aerobic activities.

Anaerobic exercise includes strengthening activities and short, intense workouts. For example, you can lift free weights, use weight machines, or use resistance bands. You can even use your own body weight for resistance in activities such as push-ups, lunges, and crunches. Short sprints and plyometric exercises that last a short time are also anaerobic exercises.

Aerobic exercise helps boost your overall fitness by conditioning your heart and lungs. Your heart is the most important muscle in your body, and it needs regular workouts to stay healthy. Regular aerobic exercise can also reduce your risk of many serious conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. It can support weight loss and weight management too.

Anaerobic strength training can increase your overall strength, tone your muscles, and boost your bone density. You can use it to strengthen all your major muscle groups, including your legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. It can also help you lose weight: you burn more calories through everyday activities when you have more muscle mass.

Use aerobic exercise to improve your overall fitness level and endurance. It supports your circulatory and respiratory systems and keeps your body running smoothly.

Use strength training exercise to strengthen specific parts of your body, such as your legs, abs, back, or arms. You can’t cut fat from specific body parts by targeting them with strength training. But you can increase your strength and muscle tone. Strength training is crucial to help minimize the loss of lean body mass seen with aging.

When it comes to aerobic exercise, think FITT: frequency, intensity, type, and time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting the equivalent of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a day, five days a week. Or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, three days a week.

The CDC also recommends doing muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. A single set of 12 repetitions for each muscle group may be enough to maintain your strength. You can increase the number of sets to increase your muscle mass. It’s important to allow your body time to recover between workouts, by resting a day or two between strength training sessions.

Warming up before exercise can help prevent injuries.

With aerobic exercise, warming up gradually increases your heart rate and body temperature. To warm up, the American Heart Association suggests doing your planned activity at a lower intensity for the first 5 to 10 minutes. For example, start by walking or jogging if you’re going for a run. Or bike around the block at a gentle pace before hitting a mountain-biking trail.

For strength training sessions, warm up by moving and stretching the areas you plan to target. For example, walk briskly for a few minutes to get your body moving. Then dynamically stretch your arms before bicep curls or your hamstrings before leg presses.

Cooling down after an intense workout is crucial. It helps your heart rate and body temperature gradually return to normal. Stopping suddenly could make you feel ill or even pass out.

To cool down, consider walking for a few minutes until your heart rate has dropped to normal. Then take some time to stretch. Stretching can help prevent the buildup of lactic acid and may help reduce muscle stiffness and cramping after exercise.

Rehydrating is also an important part of cooling down, no matter what type of exercise you’ve done. Be sure to drink water before, during, and after your workout. You can also replenish your energy with healthy snacks that combine carbohydrates and protein.

Aerobic and anaerobic exercise both have their benefits. Including both aerobic and strength training activities in your regular workout routine will give you the best of both worlds.

Varying your workouts can help keep exercise interesting. It may help you reach your fitness goals a little faster. For example, try a mix of different aerobic activities, such as running, hiking, cycling, and dancing. Dedicate different strength training sessions to different muscle groups. This will give them time to recover between workouts.

Including a variety of aerobic and strength training activities in your routine may help you reach your fitness goals faster.