Kinds of Exercise

Three important kinds of exercise

Stephen R. Covey, in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says

A young woman stretches before exercise.Most of us think we don’t have enough time to exercise. What a distorted paradigm! We don’t have time not to. We’re talking here about three to six hours a week…. That hardly seems an inordinate amount of time considering the tremendous benefits om terms of the impact on the other 162-165 hours of the week… A good exercise program is one … that will build your body in three areas: endurance, flexibility, and strength.   — p. 289.

He goes on to describe three kinds of exercise. It is most helpful to include some of each in your exercise plan.

1.”Endurance comes from aerobic exercise, from cardiovascular efficiency — the ability of your heart to pump blood through your body.”  p. 289

2. “Flexibility comes through stretching. Most experts recommend warming up before and cooling down/stretching after aerobic exercise. Before, it helps loosen and warm the muscles to prepare for more vigorous exercise. After, it helps to dissipate the lactic acid so that you don’t feel sore and stiff.” p. 290 The young woman in the picture is stretching before she runs. She’s getting in shape for a 5K race.

3. “Strength comes from muscle resistance exercises — like simple calisthenics, push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups, and from working with weights. How much emphasis you put on developing strength depends on your situation. If you’re involved in physical labor or athletic activities, increased strength will improve your skill.” p. 290

Walking is excellent exercise and has added benefits for learning

Walking is probably the most popular form of exercise. This is  good news because college students  generally do a lot of walking and often need to walk quickly to get to the next class in time. Enjoy breathing the fresh air as you walk.

Of all exercise walking is best… No one knows, till he tries, how easily a habit of walking is acquired… I have known some great walkers … and I never knew or heard of one who was not healthy and long-lived.                                                — Thomas Jefferson

As you walk or jog, enjoy the scenery. An article in the Wall Street Journal p. D-1, 8/30/11, recommends a walk in the park. Participants walking through an arboretum showed a 20% improvement in performance “on memory and attention tests. … When these people were sent on  a break to stroll down a busy street, no cognitive boost was detected.”

In an interesting followup test, “researchers had participants take a break for ten minutes in a quiet room to look at pictures of a nature scene or city street. Again they found that cognitive performance improved after the nature break, even though it was only on paper. Although the boost wasn’t as great as when participants actually took the walk among the trees, it was more effective than the city walk.”

What other kinds of exercise are good?

You may also want to add activities like biking or mountain climbing if they appeal to you. Some prefer swimming. Some like to jog or run. Some prefer strenuous dancing. Some like to work out at the gym, balancing weight training with aerobic exercise on the treadmill or other equipment.Students get exercise doing Yoga in the hallways before class.

These students have chosen to do Yoga in the hallway. I wonder if they are doing this while they wait for their next class. If so, the exercise will send more blood to their brain, providing  oxygen and nutrients. These students will learn more easily than those who have spent the day sitting in class or in the library.

Vigorous exercise is especially helpful to improve physical and mental health. But many students are not willing or able to start out by  running or even jogging.

If you aren’t accustomed to vigorous exercise, begin slowly with activities you enjoy most. While some people prefer to exercise alone, using the time for reflection or meditation, others prefer to exercise with friends. Friends can also help you stick to a regular schedule.

Whatever exercise you choose, it is smart to begin slowly. Walk, jog, bike or swim at the rate that is most comfortable for you. Gradually increase your distance  and speed.  Runners are encouraged to aim for greater distance several days a week and focus on sprinting, improving speed on other days.

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