New year, new you: Find the right exercise for you

Jan 12, 2021


It’s the new year, and your mind may be turning to revamping your exercise habits. With gyms closed, it may be difficult to get moving.

It can also be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start. What are the benefits of each exercise? Should you try more than one or mix it up from time to time?

Major types and benefits of exercise

You know exercise is an important part of your overall health. So, to help determine what’s best for you, we’re giving you a quick outline of the major types of exercise and the benefits of each. Make sure to check with your physician before starting a new exercise regimen.


Cardio exercise is any exercise that gets your heart rate pumping, your sweat flowing and your chest heaving. Some examples of cardio include:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Working the elliptical
  • Playing high-movement sports like basketball or soccer

This kind of aerobic exercise is important for a healthy heart. Cardio activities can be done almost anywhere. They also create additional benefits like:

  • Burning calories for weight loss
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing asthma symptoms and back pain
  • Aiding sleep
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Improving brain power


While this exercise probably doesn’t need much explanation, weightlifting can be done using machines or free weights, depending on your preference. Weightlifting isn’t complicated, but should be done carefully to receive maximum benefits, such as:

  • Burning body fat while gaining muscle
  • Reducing the risk of osteoporosis
  • Improving muscle control and balance
  • Increasing strength
  • Lowering the risk of diabetes
  • Prevents back pain

Interval training and HIIT

Interval training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to get a tough workout in when you’re worried about time. These workouts alternate between periods of high-intensity exercise and low-intensity recovery periods (for example, a series of timed sprints with a timed walking recovery). However, as the name suggests, HIIT is a little more intense with shorter rest times in between exercises.

Let’s look at a few of the benefits to interval training:

  • More calories (and fat!) burned throughout the day
  • Shorter workouts for efficiency
  • Maximum cardio effects for a healthier heart
  • No equipment necessary
  • Increased metabolism
  • Can be done anywhere
  • Reduced body fat, not muscle


Pilates is a low-impact, body-weight exercise that focuses foremost on the body’s core. It can be done on a mat or on a special apparatus called a reformer. Pilates is designed to improve physical strength, increase flexibility, improve posture and promote mental awareness.

Pilates benefits include:

  • Toned muscles
  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved balance and muscle control
  • Simple for beginners
  • Easy to do at home or in a class


Stretching is something you should incorporate into your exercise routine on a regular basis. Though not technically an “exercise” on its own, the act of stretching is just as important to support your physical well-being.

Stretching supports your body and movement in many ways because it:

  • Prevents injuries and soreness
  • Strengthens posture
  • Promotes blood flow and flexibility
  • Can be done at home or in a class

Get advice and mix it up

Regardless of which exercise is your personal favorite, you’ll benefit from mixing it up. Exercise variety works different parts of the body and keeps you from getting bored.

Though each kind of exercise keeps your body healthy, exercise also keeps our minds healthy. As activity causes you to release endorphins, you’ll help yourself fight winter and pandemic depression. Exercise won’t just help you look better — it’ll help you feel better.

You don’t have to launch into the new year and new plans alone. Our physical therapy team is happy to set you up with an exercise program customized for your body, condition and goals. With locations in Vancouver and throughout the east side, there’s an Adventist Health Portland physical therapy clinic near you.

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