Different Types of Exercise and Their Benefits

Exercise aims to improve your health and wellbeing. Some benefits of exercise can be seen in minutes, while the rest takes months or even years. With so many names of various types of exercises, we give you the low down of some of the more popular ones and what their benefits are.

Interval Training (aka HIIT)

A simple definition of Interval Training is a series of short, high-intensity exercise periods alternated with periods of rest. These higher and lower intensity periods are repeated several times to form a complete workout. Here’s a basic example: first you walk for 5 minutes at 5.6km/h followed by walking for 1 minute at 6.8km/h  and then repeat this sequence several times. Interval training is built upon alternating short, high-intensity bursts of speed with slower, recovery phases throughout a single workout. The interval workouts can be highly sophisticated and structured training that is designed for an athlete based on his or her sport, event and current level of conditioning.

Interval training is often contrasted with continuous training, which is any activity without rest intervals and can be performed at low, moderate or high intensities. Some trainers combine both continuous and interval trainings so as to maximise the body’s fat burn rate.

Benefits of Interval Training

Interval workout has numerous benefits which improves your overall wellness and it really helps one to lose weight. It was found that women who did 20-minute interval workouts, 3 times per week for 15 weeks, lost nearly 6 pounds more than those who stuck with 40 minutes of steady exercise. It also provides calorie burning even after 24 hours of exercise. Interval training reduces abdominal fat and lowers blood sugar level, therefore lowering resistance of developing Type 2 diabetes. Interval training causes skeletal muscle cells to produce more proteins in order to fuel the energy-producing mitochondria in each cell. Which is why interval training can act as a powerful anti-ageing regime. Best part? Fitness performance improves at a fast pace with interval training – usually seen within a few weeks, with athletes seeing benefits from just 2 interval training sessions.


Cross-training comprises of combination of several types of exercises and therefore, limits the stress that occurs on a specific muscle group because different activities use muscles in slightly different ways.

Sample of Cross training would include:

Monday: Aerobics class

Tuesday: Lift weights at the gym/ Crossfit

Wednesday: Rollerblading

Thursday: Swim laps

Friday: Yoga

Benefits of Cross-training

Cross-training is a good routine for those who want to reduce boredom caused by doing the same exercise regularly. It is a great way to condition different muscle groups and evolve new set of skills. Moreover, cross-training can help to improve one’s cardio, strengthen muscles and even speed up recovery for those who feel the burn from another sport. Always remember to have a few sports and exercises to vary throughout the week, give yourself at least 2 days of rest per week and also consider what potential injuries you may incur from each sport (e.g. you may overexert your leg muscles if you go to Zumba classes).

Circuit Training

Circuit training is a type of workout where sets of strength training exercises are performed back to back, completing one after the other with minimal rest in between and a “circuit” is one completion of all the exercises in the programme. Circuit structure may differ, but each workout typically includes 3-8 exercises that you perform for a set amount.Typical activities in a circuit include squats, bench dips, sit ups, crunches, shuttle runs, burpees, skipping and jogging.


Benefits of Circuit Training

Studies at Baylor University and The Cooper Institute show that circuit training is the most time efficient way to enhance cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance, helping women to achieve their weight goals and maintain them longer than other forms of exercise and diet. If you are someone who is looking to switch up their workouts and add in variety, circuit training may be a great option for you. Another advantage of circuit training is that it helps one manage existing injuries and prevent new ones as you can easily swap movements that could make your injuries worse by replacing it with safer ones that still train and target the same muscle groups. Do note however, that circuit training is unsuitable for those with high blood pressure or heart problems.

Flexibility training

The definition of flexibility is far more complicated than simply being able to stretch or bend over to touch your toes. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), flexibility is defined as “the range of motion of a given joint or group of joints or the level of tissue extensibility that a muscle group possesses”. This means that every joint and muscle in our body have different level of flexibility. Certain areas might be tight, which means that the muscles feel short and restricted. Some areas of your body may feel very loose and you may able to lengthen and move those muscles freely.

There are different types of flexibility training. Stretching is a form of flexibility training ranging from static stretching, dynamic stretching, and Active Isolated Stretching. In static stretching, you move into a position that lengthens a target muscle and hold the position four 15-60 seconds. It’s best to remember to breathe as you hold each stretch. Dynamic stretching means you move in an out of a position that lengthens a target muscle. Dynamic stretches often involve a gentle bouncing movement and are sometimes called ballistic stretches. Last but not least, Active Isolated Stretching (AIS). You move your joint through a complete range of motion, holding the endpoint only briefly, then return to the starting point and repeat. Many athletes and active exercisers use Active Isolated Stretching to prevent injuries or muscle imbalance.

Benefits of Flexibility training

Tension in your muscles affects circulation, which can prevent oxygen and nutrients to low through your body. When the muscles are more flexible, they relax and have improved circulation. Flexibility exercise helps ease tension and soreness in muscles while also increasing your range of motion. Thus, you will be able to do daily acivities without any restriction of movement such as bending down to pick up a bag, lifting a baby, reaching four the phone, sweeping the floor etc. The act of stretching also encourages circulation by helping blood move to the muscles and joints. These exercises help protect joints, muscles and tendons from strains and tears. Because strength and flexibility exercises keep your bones young, they also help prevent osteoporosis (the loss of bone density). People who fall in the age range of 40 and over and practise flexibility exercise tend to have more flexible arteries, which then reduces their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Exercise may seem like a drag but the more you do, the easier it will become. The benefits of regular physical activity are wide-reaching and well worth making an effort for. Be sure to maintain a healthy, balanced diet alongside exercise to get the full benefit.



American Council on Exercise (ACE)


Photo credits: Pixabay, bruce mars on Unsplash and Victor Freitas on Unsplash


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