Forget about the so-called exercise experts who all say that everyone should run, or everyone should walk, or do aerobics, or lift weights, or whatever the fad exercise du jour is.

Each of us has a unique mind and body, and we should pick exercises that fit our mental and physical characteristics. By picking exercises that fit us in mind and body, we become more motivated and enthusiastic about making exercise part of our lives.

So do you know your exercise type? Exercise typing correlates certain physical, emotional, and mental characteristics with appropriate types of exercise.

Exercise typing comes from the medical principles of Ayurveda, an Indian system of preventative health care. Ayurveda recognizes each person’s unique physical, mental, and emotional traits and chooses the best health plan based on those traits. Derived from the three dosha (mind-body types) of Ayurveda, exercise typing has identified three basic exercise groups.

Energetic Types

Energetic types are people who have high burst energy, but low endurance, when it comes to exercise.

Energetic types tend to have high energy in short bursts but tire easily and can easily overexert themselves. As such, energetic types do better with exercises that are brisk, without being exhausting. Exercises for this type should involve high energy but not a lot of strength or stamina. And if it is a new exercise, the movements should be easy to learn and remember.

You might be an energetic type if

* your body frame is thin or bony
* you have a hard time gaining weight, no matter how much you eat
* your skin tends to be dry, rough, cool, chaps easily, or has prominent veins
* your hair is coarse, dry, curly, and/or scant
* emotionally, when things are going well, you are full of joy and enthusiasm, but when things go badly, you become fearful, anxious, or worried
* when learning something new, you tend to grasp it quickly but soon forget what you’ve learned
* you enjoy being very physically active, especially in activities like gardening or hiking
* when engaged in physical activity, you have lots of energy but little strength or endurance and can tire easily.

Walking, especially for short periods of ten minutes or less, is one exercise that works well for energetic types. Walking is relaxing, especially if it can be done outside in nature or even around one’s neighborhood. (Treadmill walking, though, is boring for energetic types and should not be done unless there is no other option.)

If walking is kept to less than ten minutes, it will not be exhausting. If energetic types need or want to walk for longer periods, they should divide the walk into ten to fifteen minute periods, with a short break for each period.

Other exercises that work well are

* aerobics (low impact, with softer music)
* archery
* badminton
* baseball/softball
* bicycling (with frequent breaks)
* bowling
* dancing
* golf
* hiking (light backpack, with frequent breaks)
* horseback riding
* ice skating (indoors away from cold)
* step-training (softer music)
* swimming
* Tai Chi or Qigong (easy styles)
* table tennis
* walking
* yoga.

Endurance Types

Both physically and mentally, endurance types have the most overall energy, but it is not explosive energy like the energetic types; rather, it is steady and enduring energy. They have high endurance but low burst energy—just the opposite of energetic types.

Owing to their low burst energy, endurance types often dislike exercise. They have a hard time getting started with an exercise since getting started often requires burst energy. So with their strengths and weaknesses in mind, endurance types do best with exercises that help stimulate them physically and mentally at the start. Activities that require quick bursts of energy should be avoided. Instead, they should look for activities that take advantage of their stamina and strength.

You might be an endurance type if

* your body frame is large or heavy-set
* you gain weight easily, even if you eat very little and exercise regularly
* your skin tends to be thick, cool, and/or prone to acne
* your hair is thick, shiny, and/or lustrous
* emotionally, when things are going well, you are stable, reliable, forgiving, and nonjudgmental; when things are going poorly, you become overly attached, resistant, and depressed.
* when learning something new, you learn slowly, but rarely forget what you’ve learned
* you tend to be less physically active, even lethargic, and don’t especially enjoy activity
* when engaged in physical activity, you have lots of endurance, but little energy—you find it hard to get started but can keep going once you do.

Walking, especially for long distances, works well for endurance types. They can walk for twenty- or thirty-minute periods (or even longer) without breaks. They especially like to walk outdoors because the sights and scenes help stimulate them.

Other exercises that work well for endurance types are

* aerobics (low impact)
* basketball
* bicycling (slow pace, long distance)
* calisthenics (slow pace)
* cross-country skiing
* football
* ice skating
* jogging (slow pace, long distance)
* racquetball
* rock climbing
* rollerblading
* rowing
* shot-put
* skiing
* stair climbing
* Tai Chi or Qigong (forms with repetitive movements)
* tennis
* walking (slow pace, long distance).

Athletic Types

Athletic types have equal amounts of burst energy and endurance. If they are in good physical condition, they will have high amounts of both. If they are in poor physical condition, they may have low amounts of both. But either way, they have approximately equal amounts.

To capitalize on their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses, athletic types do best with exercises that engage their active minds and involve both burst energy and stamina. They often thrive on exercises that are competitive and/or involve concentration.

But excessive competition brings out the worst in athletic types, so much so that they may risk injury while competing. As such, activities where the athletic type competes against herself or himself (such as improving on past performances or skills) are often better than head-to-head competition with someone else.

You might be an athletic type if

* your body frame is medium or muscular
* you are average weight or muscular, though you might gain weight without proper nutrition or exercise
* your skin tends to be oily, warm, sensitive, reddish, and/or inflamed
* your hair is thin, oily, and/or has premature gray or hair loss
* emotionally, when things are going well, you are assertive and confident; when things are going poorly, you become aggressive, angry, or frustrated
* when learning something new, you enjoy challenges, tend to quickly grasp it, and remember it easily
* you enjoy being very physically active, especially in competitive sports or learning complex physical skills
* when engaged in physical activity, you have moderate to strong amounts of both energy and endurance and don’t like to take breaks

Swimming, especially swimming a given number of timed laps in a pool, works well for athletic types. It involves concentration, strength, and competitiveness. Athletic types also do well with learning complicated movement patterns, such as yoga, Tai Chi, and karate sets or forms.

Other exercises that work well for athletic types are

* basketball
* bicycling (moderate pace, long distance)
* field hockey
* football
* gymnastics
* ice hockey
* ice skating (in/outdoors)
* kayaking
* karate
* mountain biking
* mountain climbing
* rollerblading
* skiing
* soccer
* Tai Chi or Qigong (highly detailed styles)
* tennis
* surfing
* water skiing
* windsurfing
* Yoga
* walking/jogging
* weight-lifting

Exercise That Fits You!

Start to exercise with your mind and body, and not against them! Exercise typing helps you find exercises that fit your unique physical, mental, and emotional traits. Use the above guidelines to find your type and the activities that best fit you. If you do, you’ll become more motivated and enthusiastic about improving your health and making exercise part of your life!

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Carole Taylor is the director of, a Web site for helping people develop a customized approach to health and longevity. Carole holds certifications in nutritional advising, neurotransmitter balancing, and Tai Chi exercise instruction. A living example of what she preaches, Carole is nearly seventy years old, but with the energy, vigor, and looks of someone in her forties. Carole helps clients over the Internet develop personalized plans for health, nutrition, and longevity. Her Web site contains nutrition and diet profiling tools, an exercise typing tool, and free articles and newsletters on health, diet, nutrition, and mind-body wellness.