Fitness is a goal for many people. Fitness is synonymous with good health.
A high level of fitness can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve your ability to deal with any health problems that may arise. A higher fitness level can also lead to greater functionality and mobility throughout a person’s lifetime.
In the short term, staying active can improve your daily functioning. This includes a better mood, a sharper focus, and fewer sleep disturbances.
Fitter people tend to perform better.
It’s important to note that there are different ways to stay fit. Think of a ballet performer compared to a bodybuilder or a sprinter as compared to a gymnast. Fitness is not a single “look.” The appearance of someone can tell you nothing about their habits, level of physical activity, or if they are fit at all.
What it Means to Be Fit
According to the Guidelines for Physical Activity in Americans published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are five elements to physical fitness.
- Cardiorespiratory fitness Your maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) is one of the most commonly used measures. The ability of your body to absorb and utilize oxygen (which feeds your tissues) directly relates to your health and quality of life. This is according to Abbie S. Ryan, Ph.D. professor, and director of the Applied Physiology Laboratory, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
- Musculoskeletal fitness This includes muscular strength, endurance, and power.
- Flexibility This is the range of movement of your joints.
- BalanceBalance is the ability to stand and walk steadily to prevent falls.
- Speed This is the speed at which you can move.
According to a peer-reviewed paper frequently cited, “physical activity” refers to body movements that result in energy expenditure. “Exercise,” on the other hand, refers to specific and structured physical activities. “Physical fitness” refers to a group of attributes people possess or achieve which determine their ability to perform daily tasks with alertness and vigor without excessive fatigue. According to the same paper, fitness can be measured by cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance, muscular power, body composition, and flexibility.
Types of Fitness
Fitness comprises a few key components necessary for a balanced exercise program. You will find below the Physical Activity Guidelines For Americans that HHS emphasizes as the components to be included in your weekly exercise. It’s important to note that most definitions of fitness also have other components, including endurance, muscular endurance, and power.
Cardiovascular (Aerobic) Exercise
This is because aerobic exercise is the basis of any fitness program. This type of exercise, also known as cardio, increases your heart and respiration rates. It improves cardiorespiratory health, according to American Heart Association.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines, aerobic exercise includes brisk walking (running), cycling, swimming, aerobic classes (like kickboxing), dancing, yard work, tennis, and jumping rope.
Strength training can improve your mobility and function, especially as you age. As you age, your muscle mass decreases, which can negatively impact your life quality. Strength exercises help build bone and muscle. More muscle helps protect your body against falls and fractures, which can occur as you age.
The ACSM defines strength training as “an exercise designed to improve muscular fitness through resistance bands, your body weight, or other methods.” This includes lifting weights, carrying heavy loads, and strenuous gardening.
Flexibility & Mobility
According to the International Sports Sciences Association, flexibility and mobility are essential to healthy movement. They are not the same.
Mobility is the ability of the body to move a joint to its full range of motion. Flexibility is the ability of tendons, ligaments, and muscles to stretch.
According to the HHS Physical Activity Guidelines, there is no recommendation on how many minutes should be spent doing activities that increase flexibility and mobility (such as stretching) or the health benefits. This is because research has yet to be done in this area. However, The guidelines note that flexibility exercises can be crucial to physical fitness.
Rest and recovery
By incorporating Rest and Recovery Days into your schedule, you can give your body time to repair any damage caused by exercise. Exercise is a stressor on muscles and the body. You become more robust (and fitter) by repairing and healing that stress. You need to rest your body after an intense workout to allow the recovery process to take place.
Recovery days may include no physical exercise or look like active recovery days, where you do low-intensity and low-impact exercises, such as gentle yoga or walking. Dr. Sallis recommends that you do some form of exercise every day. For example, a 10-minute stroll outdoors.
Rest and recovery days are not about being immobile. It’s more about not pushing yourself so hard that physical activity becomes challenging or strenuous.
Exercise is Good for Your Health
Fitness can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses that develop with time. These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Fitness is the one thing that can help you prevent any disease,” says Grayson Wickham, DPT, CSCS founder of Movement Vault in New York City.
ACSM and the American Medical Association launched the Exercise in Medicine initiative in 2007. The goal was to make physical activity assessments part of routine medical treatment while providing exercise resources for people of all abilities. The initiative website notes that “the scientifically proven benefits are undeniable and can be as effective as any pharmaceutical agent for preventing and treating chronic diseases and medical conditions.”
Exercise Improves your mood.
According to research, regular exercise can help prevent anxiety and depression. A scientific paper notes that other studies have shown that exercise helps manage depression symptoms and treat it. Exercise can help reduce inflammation. This is higher in depression patients. Researchers also believe that physical activity may promote positive changes in the brain.
Exercise is Good for Sleep
Exercise can improve your sleep quality. Training improved sleep quality and was linked to more extended periods of sleep. The practice may set your body clock so that you’re alert and sleepy when appropriate, create chemical changes in your brain that promote sleep, and ease anxiety before bedtime, as previous research suggests.
Exercises that are too intense near bedtime can cause some people difficulty sleeping. They should be done later in the day.
Exercise Promotes Long-Term Health
Exercise can improve your brain and bone health. It also enhances your gastrointestinal functions and lowers the risk of stroke and cancer. A study of more than 116,000 adult participants showed that the recommended 150-300 minutes of physical exercise per week reduced the risk of dying from any cause.