have taken the important first step on the path to physical
fitness by seeking information. The next step is to
decide that you are going to be physically fit. This article
is designed to help you reach that decision and your goal.
decision to carry out a physical fitness program cannot
be taken lightly. It requires a lifelong commitment
of time and effort. Exercise must become one of those
things that you do without question, like bathing and brushing
your teeth. Unless you are convinced of the benefits
of fitness and the risks of unfitness, you will not succeed.
is essential. Don?t try to do too much too soon and
don?t quit before you have a chance to experience the rewards
of improved fitness. You can?t regain in a few days
or weeks what you have lost in years of sedentary living,
but you can get it back if your persevere. And the
prize is worth the price.
guide is intended for the average healthy adult. It tells
you what your goals should be and how often, how long and
how hard you must exercise to achieve them. It also
includes information that will make your workouts easier,
safer and more satisfying. The rest is up to you.
the Living Strong website pages you will find basic information
about beginning and maintaining a personal physical fitness
program. Living Strong can help put this information
to work for you with professional
guidance and a safe personal training plan custom tailored
to your fitness level and goals.
you're under 35 and in good health, you may not need to
see a doctor before beginning an exercise program. But if
you are over 35 and have been inactive for several years,
you should consult your physician, who may or may not recommend
a graded exercise test. Conditions that indicate a need
for medical clearance are:
history of early stroke or heart attack deaths.
breathlessness after mild exertion.
or other bone problems.
muscular, ligament or tendon problems.
known or suspected disease.
exercise involves minimal health risks for persons in
good health or those following a doctor?s advice. Far
greater risks are presented by habitual inactivity and
Strong Fitness Training will do a complete physical assessment
and medical history profile with all new clients, to help
establish the safest and most effective exercises for each
fitness is to the human body what fine tuning is to an engine.
It enables us to perform up to our potential. Fitness
can be described as a condition that helps us look, feel
and do our best. More specifically, it is:
ability to perform daily tasks vigorously and alertly, with
energy left over for enjoying leisure- time activities and
meeting emergency demands. It is the ability to endure,
to bear up, to withstand stress, to carry on in circumstances
where an unfit person could not continue, and is a major
basis for good health and well-being.?
fitness involves the performance of the heart and lungs,
and the muscles of the body. And, since what we do
with our bodies also affects what we can do with our minds,
fitness influences to some degree qualities such as mental
alertness and emotional stability.
you undertake your fitness program, it?s important to remember
that fitness is an individual quality that varies from person
to person. It is influenced by age, sex, heredity,
personal habits, exercise and eating practices. You
can?t do anything about the first three factors. However,
it is within your power to change and improve the others
fitness is most easily understood by examining its components,
or ?parts.? There is widespread agreement that these
four components are basic:
Endurance - the ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients
to tissues, and to remove wastes, over sustained periods
of time. Long runs and swims are among the methods
employed in measuring this component.
Strength - the ability of a muscle to exert force for
a brief period of time. Upper-body strength, for example,
can be measured by various weightlifting exercises.
Endurance - the ability of a muscle, or a group of muscles,
to sustain repeated contractions or to continue applying
force against a fixed object. Pushups are often used
to test endurance of arm and shoulder muscles.
- the ability to move joints and use muscles through their
full range of motion. The sit-and- reach test is a
good measure of flexibility of the lower back and backs
of the upper legs.
COMPOSITION is often considered a component of fitness.
It refers to the makeup of the body in terms of lean
mass (muscle, bone, vital tissue and organs) and fat mass.
An optimal ratio of fat to lean mass is an indication
of fitness, and the right types of exercises will help you
decrease body fat and increase or maintain muscle mass.
A WORKOUT SCHEDULE
often, how long and how hard you exercise, and what kinds
of exercises you do should be determined by what you are
trying to accomplish. Your goals, your present fitness
level, age, health, skills, interest and convenience are
among the factors you should consider. For example,
an athlete training for high-level competition would follow
a different program than a person whose goals are good health
and the ability to meet work and recreational needs.
exercise program should include something from each
of the four basic fitness components described previously.
Each workout should begin with a warmup and end
with a cooldown. As a general rule, space your
workouts throughout the week and avoid consecutive days
of hard exercise.
are the amounts of activity necessary for the average healthy
person to maintain a minimum level of overall fitness. Included
are some of the popular exercises for each category.
- 5-10 minutes of exercise such as walking, slow jogging,
knee lifts, arm circles or trunk rotations. Low intensity
movements that simulate movements to be used in the activity
can also be included in the warmup.
STRENGTH - a minimum of two 20-minute sessions per week
that include exercises for all the major muscle groups.
is the most effective way to increase strength, and a most
productive and beneficial form of exercise.
ENDURANCE - at least three 30-minute sessions each week
that include exercises such as calisthenics, pushups, situps,
pullups, and weight training for all the major muscle groups.
ENDURANCE - at least three 20-minute bouts of continuous
aerobic (activity requiring oxygen) rhythmic exercise each
week. Popular aerobic conditioning activities include
brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, rope-jumping,
rowing, cross-country skiing, and some continuous action
games like racquetball and handball.
- 10-12 minutes of daily stretching exercises performed
slowly, without a bouncing motion. This can be included
after a warmup or during a cooldown.
DOWN - a minimum of 5-10 minutes of slow walking, low-level
exercise, combined with stretching.
A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE
keys to selecting the right kinds of exercises for developing
and maintaining each of the basic components of fitness
are found in these principles:
- pick the right kind of activities to affect each component.
Strength training results in specific strength changes.
Also, train for the specific activity you?re interested
in. For example, optimal swimming performance is best
achieved when the muscles involved in swimming are trained
for the movements required. It does not necessarily
follow that a good runner is a good swimmer.
- work hard enough, at levels that are vigorous and long
enough to overload your body above its resting level, to
bring about improvement.
- you can?t hoard physical fitness. At least three
balanced workouts a week are necessary to maintain a desirable
level of fitness.
- increase the intensity, frequency and/or duration of activity
over periods of time in order to improve.
activities can be used to fulfill more than one of your
basic exercise requirements. For example, in addition
to increasing cardiorespiratory endurance, running builds
muscular endurance in the legs, and swimming develops the
arm, shoulder and chest muscles. If you select the
proper activities, it is possible to fit parts of your muscular
endurance workout into your cardiorespiratory workout and
MEASURING YOUR HEART RATE
rate is widely accepted as a good method for measuring
intensity during running, swimming, cycling, and other
aerobic activities. Exercise that does not raise
your heart rate to a certain level and keep it there
for 20 minutes won?t contribute significantly to cardiovascular
heart rate you should maintain is called your target heart
rate. There are several ways of arriving at this figure.
One of the simplest is: maximum heart rate (220 -
age) x 70%. Thus, the target heart rate for a 40 year-old
would be 126.
methods for figuring the target rate take individual differences
into consideration. Here is one of them:
age from 220 to find maximum heart rate.
resting heart rate (see below) from maximum heart rate
to determine heart rate reserve.
70% of heart rate reserve to determine heart rate raise.
heart rate raise to resting heart rate to find target
heart rate should be determined by taking your pulse after
sitting quietly for five minutes. When checking heart
rate during a workout, take your pulse within five seconds
after interrupting exercise because it starts to go down
once you stop moving. Count pulse for 10 seconds and
multiply by six to get the per-minute rate.
CONTROLLING YOUR WEIGHT
key to weight control is keeping energy intake (food) and
energy output (physical activity) in balance. When
you consume only as many calories as your body needs, your
weight will usually remain constant. If you take in
more calories than your body needs, you will put on excess
fat. If you expend more energy than you take in you
will burn excess fat.
plays an important role in weight control by increasing
energy output, calling on stored calories for extra fuel.
Recent studies show that not only does exercise increase
metabolism during a workout, but it causes your metabolism
to stay increased for a period of time after exercising,
allowing you to burn more calories.
much exercise is needed to make a difference in your weight
depends on the amount and type of activity, and on how much
you eat. Aerobic exercise burns body fat. A
medium-sized adult would have to walk more than 30 miles
to burn up 3,500 calories, the equivalent of one pound of
fat. Although that may seem like a lot, you don?t have to
walk the 30 miles all at once. Walking a mile a day
for 30 days will achieve the same result, providing you
don?t increase your food intake to negate the effects
of walking. For a more in-depth study of this topic, read
Truth About Exercise Intensity and Weight Loss .
you consume 100 calories a day more than your body needs,
you will gain approximately 10 pounds in a year. You
could take that weight off, or keep it off, by doing 30
minutes of moderate exercise daily. The combination
of exercise and diet offers the most flexible and effective
approach to weight control.
muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue, and exercise
develops muscle to a certain degree, your bathroom scale
won?t necessarily tell you whether or not you are ?fat.?
Well-muscled individuals, with relatively little body
fat, invariably are ?overweight? according to standard weight
charts. If you are doing a regular program of strength
training, your muscles will increase in weight, and possibly
your overall weight will increase. Body composition
is a better indicator of your condition than body weight.
of physical activity causes muscles to get soft, and if
food intake is not decreased, added body weight is almost
always fat. Once-active people, who continue to
eat as they always have after settling into sedentary lifestyles,
tend to suffer from ?creeping obesity.?
exercise clothing should be loose-fitting to permit freedom
of movement, and should make the wearer feel comfortable
a general rule, you should wear lighter clothes than
temperatures might indicate. Exercise generates
great amounts of body heat. Light-colored clothing
that reflects the sun?s rays is cooler in the summer,
and dark clothes are warmer in winter. When the
weather is very cold, it?s better to wear several layers
of light clothing than one or two heavy layers. The
extra layers help trap heat, and it?s easy to shed one
of them if you become too warm.
cold weather, and in hot, sunny weather, it?s a good idea
to wear something on your head. Wool watch or ski
caps are recommended for winter wear, and some form of tennis
or sailor?s hat that provides shade and can be soaked in
water is good for summer.
wear rubberized or plastic clothing, such garments interfere
with the evaporation of perspiration and can cause body
temperature to rise to dangerous levels.
most important item of equipment for the runner is a pair
of sturdy, properly-fitting running shoes. Training shoes
with heavy, cushioned soles and arch supports are preferable
to flimsy sneakers and light racing flats.
WHEN TO EXERCISE
hour just before the evening meal is a popular time for
exercise. The late afternoon workout provides a welcome
change of pace at the end of the work day and helps dissolve
the day?s worries and tensions.
popular time to work out is early morning, before the work
day begins. Advocates of the early start say it makes them
more alert and energetic on the job.
the factors you should consider in developing your workout
schedule are personal preference, job and family responsibilities,
availability of exercise facilities and weather. It?s
important to schedule your workouts for a time when there
is little chance that you will have to cancel or interrupt
them because of other demands on your time.
should not exercise strenuously during extremely hot, humid
weather or within two hours after eating. Heat and/or
digestion both make heavy demands on the circulatory system,
and in combination with exercise can be an overtaxing double
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