Three Types of Exercise for Life-long Health and Vitality

Stay strong enough to run through misty jungles with aerobic, stretching, and strength training exercises.Dr. Walter Willett, the lead nutrition researcher on the Harvard Nurse’s Health Care Study, has a new food pyramid in his book Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy. The base of his pyramid is exercise, rather than carbohydrates (the base of the USDA food pyramid). We need three types of exercise for optimal health: aerobic, strength training, and stretching. In brief:

1. Aerobic exercise works the cardiovascular system (lungs, blood vessels, heart muscle) and increases the efficiency of aerobic muscle fiber. It helps lower blood pressure, oxygenates the whole body, including the brain, uses calories, and helps prevent cardiovascular disease.

2. Strength building exercise works on the muscle fibers, bones, and cartilage and builds anaerobic muscle fiber. It increases the metabolic rate, increases vitality, increases efficient glucose utilization for diabetes prevention, increases bone density, prevents arthritis, improves balance, and reverses declining strength that comes from inactivity.

3. Stretching increases flexibility, coordination, balance, and agility and improves free movement. If you avoid stretching muscles shorten and joint tissue weakens, causing stiffness with aging. Stretching improves arthritis pain and helps prevent injuries.

My advice for exercise success? Compare your current fitness level only with your past fitness level; never compare your fitness with others. Get help to develop an individualized program for you and your body. Set short term, attainable goals. Err on the side of slow improvement rather than moving too quickly. Be gentle. Be patient. Let your body enjoy moving; you want to build a new habit for life.

My goal is to help you feel vital, happy, and at home in your body. Accept wherever you are today and begin.

Aerobic Training

Goal of three to four sessions per week.

  • Improves the health of your heart and lungs
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Decreases risk of diabetes, cancer, and obesity
  • Improves your oxygen delivery system and increases your vitality
  • Improves your moods, lifts depression, and improves sleep
  • Helps with weight loss by consuming calories and taming the appetite
  • Improves bone and cartilage health (if the exercise is weight-bearing)
  • Improves brain functioning
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves your self-esteem and sense of psychological balance

Strength Training

Goal of two 30 to 60 minute sessions a week.

  • Improves your muscle power and prevents you from becoming frail as you age
  • Helps you do the tasks of daily life like getting out of a bathtub or carrying a bag of groceries
  • Increases your metabolism and vitality
  • Firms and tightens your body
  • Increases your bone density
  • Improves your balance
  • Improves arthritis by supporting your joints
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves your self-esteem and sense of psychological balance


Goal of a few minutes stretching every day.

  • Helps your joints function smoothly and without pain
  • Improves balance
  • Gives you freedom of movement (look at people who are older and see how stiff they become)
  • Helps you with daily tasks
  • Reduces stress and tension and brings a sense of peace