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Fitness & Exercise : Types, Nutrition Plan & Tips

There are different types of physical exercises all of which contribute to enhancing wellness, physical fitness, agility, coordination, and general health. The key is to identify the right exercise for you, particularly, one that you enjoy as you are more likely to stick to it, ensuring a substantial level of commitment.

Explore the various physical activities, develop an ideal exercise regimen and grab that well-deserved, long-craved physique!

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What Is Aerobic Exercise?

Aerobic exercise, also referred to as cardiovascular exercise, is any rhythmic physical activity of relatively low intensity that is sustained for a long period of time and involves large muscle groups. The heart and lungs are conditioned as available oxygen is increased and the body's ability to use this oxygen more efficiently is enhanced, thus improving one's cardiovascular fitness.


Types Of Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise could be either indoor or outdoor types of which include:

  • cycling
  • swimming
  • running
  • jogging
  • rowing
  • brisk walking
  • skipping
  • dancing
  • trampolining


Cardiovascular fitness requires consistent reinforcement, it is advisable to perform regular exercises about 4-5 times per week in order to gain maximum benefits.


Generally, you should target doing cardio for about 30-60 minutes per exercise episode. This, I would say, excludes 5-10 minutes each of warming up and cooling down that is strongly recommended.

Aerobic Exercise Vis-à-Vis Weight Loss

Aerobic exercise contributes to weight loss by creating a calorie deficit where more calories are burnt than taken in. Cardio is doable most days of the week without the need of rest and more calories are burnt with increased intensity.

The table below shows calories expended for some common aerobic exercises.

Biking : 12-13.9mph - moderate effort334258
Swimming : laps, freestyle - moderate334258
Canoeing/Rowing - moderate292225
Dancing (general)188145
Walking : 4mph, level surface16712
Adapted from ACSM Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription Third Edition

What is Anaerobic Exercise?

Anaerobic exercise is any physical activity performed at an incredibly high intensity, so intense that it exceeds the body's capacity to deliver oxygen to the working muscle cells. For fuel utilization purposes, it is unable to efficiently break down food sources, the muscles thus resort to an alternative source for fuel by using energy derived from anaerobic metabolism leading to an oxygen deficit.

The build-up of the by-product, lactic acid, in the working muscles is triggered by this lack of oxygen and contributes largely to intense muscle fatigue. Anaerobic exercise thus entails explosive spurts of strenuous activity that relies on limited stores of muscle glycogen hence lasts from mere seconds up to about 2 minutes.


Types Of Anaerobic Exercise

Types of anaerobic exercise and sports include:

  • weight lifting
  • sprinting
  • push-ups
  • football
  • basket ball
  • hockey
  • soccer

Frequency And Duration

For anaerobic exercise, 2-3 days (about 10 - 20 minutes) is recommended. A day or two of rest in between workouts is advised for strengthening exercises.


In anaerobic exercise, a set is described as a group of repetitions (a complete movement for a specific exercise). For the purposes of toning, 12-20 repetitions using lighter weights is recommended whilst 8-12 using heavier weights is advised for building body mass.


Recovery does range from 0-180 seconds which is the amount of time taken to rest in between sets.

Anaerobic Exercise Vis-à-Vis Weight Loss

Anaerobic exercise generally promotes strength, power, speed and helps build muscle mass.It helps burn fat indirectly as there is an increase in the metabolic rate after exercise sessions.

Increased muscle mass in the long term promotes leanness and this contributes to weight loss process as muscle requires a lot of energy in the form of calories. More calories is also burned even when the body is at rest and muscles tend to become firm and well toned.


Flexibility, limberness, suppleness and mobility all refer to the absolute range of movement with respect to the joint or a series of joints and length in muscle that cross the joint.

A person engages two groups of muscles with any movement namely:

  • the agonistic muscle (prime movers) which generate a specific movement or several movements via the process of its own contraction;

  • the antagonistic muscle which acts in opposition to a specific movement generated by the agonistic muscle with the role of returning the limb to its initial position.

Lack of flexibility tends to predispose an individual to physical issues like pain syndromes or balance disorders.

What Is Flexibility Exercise?

Flexibility exercise is a physical activity which aims to improve and maintain a good range of movement in the joints by taking into account factors such as genetics, gender and age.


Types of Flexibility Exercise

Types of general mobility exercise include:

  • stretching
  • trunk twists
  • half squats
  • shoulder circles
  • arm circles
  • side bends

Stretching does have various techniques and these are categorized as:

  • Dynamic
  • Static
  • Active
  • Passive
  • Ballistic
  • Isometric
  • Assisted


At least 3 days a week is advisable.


Holding stretch for 10 seconds and working up to 30 seconds is recommended.


The intensity level is such that you will be in a position of mild discomfort. In the event that some pain or a stabbing sensation is felt, the activity must be ceased immediately.


Perform 3-5 per stretch.

Flexibility Exercise Vis-à-Vis Weight Loss

Flexibility exercise can increase blood flow to tissues of the body which in turn increases oxygen to these tissues thereby resulting in more calories being burned.


The Ideal Meal

One key factor in achieving optimal results from working out is having a nutrition plan alongside your exercise regimen. Let's lay it down right here. What is considered the ideal pre-workout, intra-workout and post-workout meal?

nutrition plan plate

Pre-Workout Nutrition

  • What To Eat - The ideal pre-workout meal is a whole foods meal, composed primarily of healthy carbohydrates and relatively low in dietary fat. Bulky food still needing digestion draws oxygen and energy-delivery blood into the stomach and away from the exercising muscles rendering both your workout and the digestion process ineffective.
  • When To Eat - About 2-3 hours prior to exercising.
  • Benefits
    • A pre-workout meal provides the body with the fuel it needs for stamina, endurance and performance. As your glycogen supply in the muscles are replenished, there is a significant increase in energy levels which in turn allows for increased intensity.
    • It helps prevent muscle degradation, improves energy repair and recovery especially in cases where your workout involves weight-lifting and when the body is in a catabolic state.       

Intra-Workout Nutrition

  • What To Eat - Research studies show that it is more effective to supply the body with nutrients while exercising if you plan to workout for more than 60 minutes. Ideal foods comprise a quick carbohydrate source like an energy bar or a sport drink.
  • When To Eat - Every half hour during your workout if exercise lasts for more than 60 minutes.
  • Benefits
    • It provides adequate fuel necessary to maintain a brightly burning metabolism thereby helping you burn more calories and fat.
    • Your post-workout metabolic rate or rate of calorie-burning is increased.

Post-Workout Nutrition

  • What To Eat - The ideal post-workout meal is composed of a blend of a fast acting carbohydrate and protein. Studies suggest a ratio of 4 :1 carbs to protein.
  • When To Eat - About 30-60 minutes after workout marks the window of opportunity to help maximize your raining effect as the muscles are biochemically primed to receive nutrients.
  • Benefits
    • A post-workout meal helps the muscles to readily accept carbs and protein consumed, absorb them to be stored away as energy and building blocks for recovery. Muscle soreness is significantly decreased resulting in a speedy recovery thereby allowing you to train more frequently and harder to yield better results.
    • It helps prevent muscle degradation especially if the workout entails strenuous strength training which causes microscopic tears in muscle fibres. An adequate supply of nutrients to these muscles are therefore required to ward off any further muscle breakdown.
    • It helps replenish your glycogen stores in the muscles and liver, maintaining energy levels for the rest of the day.
    • It helps enhance protein synthesis which results in improved muscle building and increased fat loss. This is achieved as a result of carbs being able to shuttle protein into the muscles thus helping to prevent its conversion into fat.


Fluid intake in the tri-phased pre-intra-post-workout play a vital role in regulating the body temperature and replenishing body fluids lost via perspiration. The more active you become, the higher your fluid replacement needs.

Studies show that thirst is solely not the best indicator of dehydration or the body's fluid needs, and therefore recommend adequate hydration to prevent heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses. It is thus advisable to consume water and sports drinks as recommended, i.e., in volumes approximating perspiration losses.


Physical fitness and general health can be improved significantly by adapting a self-monitoring approach and taking the necessary measures to tackle areas that need addressing. Here are a few handy monitoring tips you may want to consider on your journey to fitness and general well-being.


Body Mass Index

Monitoring your fitness includes checking to see if you're a healthy weight for your height. A healthy weight range is based on a measurement commonly known as the Body Mass Index (BMI) which is determined with a given height and weight. Click hereBMI Calculator to calculate your BMI and learn more.

Body Fat Percentage

Body Fat Percentage is basically the percentage of fat the body contains and this is composed of both essential body fat and storage body fat. Essential body fat is required for reproductive functions and maintaining life in general. Storage body fat is fat accumulation part of which insulates and cushions internal organs and also serves as the body's main energy reserve.

Fitness level could be monitored via checking your body fat percentage which is deemed as having a good degree of accuracy as it directly calculates the body's composition. This type of monitoring also helps in determining if your set weight loss goals are realistic. Body fat monitors are now available for home use and are currently easy to operate.

The chart below, one of the most commonly used body fat charts, shows the ideal Body Fat Percentage for men and women.

Essential Fat*2-5%10-13%
Source : Adapted From American Council On Exercise (ACE) Body Fat Percentage Chart

* Essential fat denotes the level below which physiological and physical health would be adversely impacted.

Target Heart Rate

Target Heart Rate or Training Heart Rate (THR) refers to a desired range of heart rate attained during cardio workouts which allows the heart and lungs to receive optimal benefits from a physical activity.

Monitoring the intensity of your workout is the best way to get the most out of aerobic exercise. This ensures you're working within your target heart rate zone, i.e, the most effective zone for burning calories and enhancing fitness.

THR is computed based on a person's:

  • age
  • gender
  • physical condition
  • previous training

A heart rate monitor could be used to track your heart rate during your workout. There are also online tools available for calculating THR, an approximation which serves as a general guide.

Basal Metabolic Rate

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)is the daily minimum number of calories required to sustain the body's vital functions and processes while at rest. In other words, the estimated minimum level of daily energy expended while resting in a neutrally temperate environment at the time when the digestive system is in an inactive state, i.e, in the post-absorptive state.

A hormone produced by the thyroid gland, thyroxine, helps control the body's metabolic activities thus regulating the BMR which is normally by far the largest component of the total caloric expenditure.

There is a correlation between BMR and the following:

  • Age - In general, BMR decreases with age.
  • Sex - Men tend to have a proportionally lower level of fat and more muscle tissues than women. Muscle tissue is metabolically more active than fat tissue and therefore requires more energy to maintain resulting i men having a higher BMR than women.
  • Genetics - While some individuals are born with a higher metabolism rate, others have a rather slow metabolism.
  • Body Fat Percentage - BMR increases with a decrease in the body fat percentage.
  • Weight - The greater an individual's body weight, the higher their BMR will be.
  • Height - BMR is higher in people with greater body surface area like thin, tall people.
  • Diet - Malnutrition, starvation, fasting and abrupt calorie reduction tend to decrease the BMR.
  • Physical Exercise - Burning calories via physical exercise helps in body weight reduction and increases the BMR by building more lean tissue.
  • Body Temperature - BMR increases with an increase in internal body temperature as chemical reactions occur more quickly in the body at higher temperatures.
  • Hyperthyroidism - Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is any condition in which there is excess thyroid hormone levels in the body. This condition can increase metabolism and patients with hyperthyroidism tend to have an elevated BMR.

An individual's overall energy expenditure and therefore, BMR could also be affected by certain short-term factors such as:

  • illness
  • fear
  • stress
  • environmental temperature

Knowing and monitoring your BMR is a vital part of your weight management program. BMR could be used to maintain the right calorie balance between the three main food groups. To achieve weight loss, calorie intake must be less than calories expended, however it should not fall below your BMR as this tends to slow down the metabolism in order to balance the calorie intake decrease. Other adverse effects include:

  • fluid loss
  • lean body mass loss
  • hunger
  • poor immune function
  • fatigue
  • sluggishness
  • mood swings

There are many online tools available for calculating BMR, an approximation which serves as a general guide.

The average BMR for adults ranges between 1200 and 1800kcal. Once you know your BMR, your daily calorie requirement could be determined based on your level of activity.

Daily Calorie Requirement

Having an idea of what your daily calorie requirement is and monitoring this is quite useful and helps eliminate any health risk especially if you intend embarking on a calorie-controlled diet.

As a general guide, the Estimated Average Requirements (EAR) are:

  • Man - 2550 calories daily
  • Woman - 1940 calories daily

However the above values can vary and are dependent on and number of factors including:

  • age
  • gender
  • weight
  • height
  • activity level
  • body composition

Having a well-balanced diet, working out regularly and balancing your calorie intake with the amount of calories you burn are essential to maintaining a healthy weight.

Body Temperature

Body temperature when exercising also needs monitoring. It is advisable to drink more water especially in hot humid weather to help the body stay cool or to wet the skin if you do not perspire. This helps prevent heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke which can be very dangerous.

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