what is this trying to say... 'he needs exercises' implies that he needs to learn exercise routines... is it trying to say 'he needs to exercise'? if so would the translation be different?
It can mean both sentences.
Suppose he forgets everything he learned in the classroom. Then "ele precisa de exercícios"
Suppose his health is going bad and he is getting fatter. Then "ele precisa de exercícios."
He needs to exercise is ok. And could be translated with "Ele precisa se exercitar" (only the "work out" idea is present here)
He could also practice exercises about some thing if you change the reflexive "se" by some other object:
Ele precisa exercitar seu Português - He needs to practice his Portuguese.
For your second use of "ele precisa de exercicios," the correct English rendering would be "he needs exercise."
I think "he needs to exercise" is a perfectly fine, if not strictly literal, translation for this.
But why refuse "he needs exercise" after all these years of marking it as incorrect. Because the context is not given both "exercise " and "exercises" are correct. You site is simultaneously very helpful and annoying!. I have had to learn to give incorrect English translations in order to complete some lessons
'He need practice' : Ele precisa de prática; 'He need exercise': Ele precisa de exercicios- literally the same thing
"He needs exercises" means that he needs specific exercises for a specific problem. Is that what this exercise ("Ele precisa de exercícios") means?
I think it implies to the noun because of 'de'. He might need grammar exercises. = Ele precisa de exercícios gramaticais. He needs to exercise. = Ele precisa exercer. But I am not sure, I'm only a portuguese student also.
Ele precisa se exercitar.
Exercer is to use powers, to make use of rights. It's some kind of "legal" action.
Very common: "Exercer minha cidadania" - "To make sure I have my rights as a citizen observed"
How about "He needs the exercise"? Marked wrong at the moment. Second error in this lesson. Is all of sports going to be this sporting?
For general unfitness we just say: "He needs exercise". Or, "He needs training" , yes. But we only use the plural of "exercise" for something specific: "He needs these exercises for his knee injury".