Types of Exercise

How to get in the groove of a comprehensive exercise plan
Types of Exercise

Physical activity is defined as any movement using the body's large skeletal muscles that burns calories.1 When combined with a reduced-calorie and healthy eating plan, exercise provides health benefits, promotes weight loss and is a key factor for sustaining weight loss.2 A comprehensive exercise plan includes aerobic, flexibility and resistance components.3

Aerobic Activity
Aerobic exercise uses large muscle groups in a continuous and rhythmic way. Examples include walking, bicycling, dancing and stair climbing. Aerobic activities can be done at differing levels of intensity. While all aerobic activity burns calories and contributes to health benefits, improvements in cardiovascular fitness are proportionally linked to increasing intensity levels.4

Recommendations for the amount of aerobic exercise vary depending on the desired outcome. For body weight, it has been determined that most adults within the recommended weight range include 1 hour or more of moderate intensity aerobic activity each day.5

In addition to burning calories and enhancing cardiovascular fitness, aerobic exercise reduces the risk for metabolic syndrome, improves feelings of happiness and enhances cognitive function.6,7

Flexibility Exercise
This type of exercise includes range-of-motion activities that use the muscle/tendon groups. Examples include yoga and stretching. Current recommendations state that flexibility exercises should be done at least twice per week.8 Stretching before engaging in a high-intensity activity that requires jumping or bouncing can reduce the likelihood of an exercise-related injury.9 And flexibility exercises can help reduce stiffness from resistance training and improve performance.10

Resistance Exercise
This type of exercise includes muscle-strengthening activities that build muscle and bone mass, such as lifting weights. Current recommendations include resistance training on two to three days a week with a focus on major muscle groups.

Resistance training is the most effective way to preserve lean body mass, improve muscular strength, and increase endurance. And there is increasing evidence that it may significantly reduce the risk of several chronic diseases.11 For example, even a short bout of resistance training has been shown to have a positive effect on bone health.12

View footnotes

The Weight Watchers Approach:

The PointsPlus Activity System provides a method to evaluate and monitor the inclusion of all types of exercise in a simple way. Information, tips and strategies on ways to obtain the health- and weight-related benefits of regular physical activity are provided.

This content is reviewed regularly. Last updated December 17, 2011.


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