Are you fit?
It’s easy to say yes to this question but without proper understanding of what fitness is, you may have some doubt in your mind. We all have a general idea of what the term means but when in doubt it’s always best to consult professionals.
In a nutshell, the National Federation of Professional Trainers describes being fit as having the “strength and energy” to carry out your daily tasks while being alert without exhausting yourself and neglecting leisure activities. A fit person has the right amount of body fat and is within the recommended weight range. Males can have up to 25% body fat and females should have no more than 18%. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) gives a simpler definition stating that fitness is “a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relate to the ability to perform physical activity”.
That’s what the professionals think being fit is and they’ve made some pretty strong points if you ask me. Being fit is much more than running miles or winning a weightlifting contest against your gym mates. In the word of Matthieu Ricard, “The Happiest Man in The World,” it’s equally important to exercise your mind as well as your body if you want to achieve fitness.
Being Truly Fit
Fitness is a broad term, so in order to fully understand it, let’s dissect the pieces so that we can fully understand what fitness is.
First we need to examine what cardiorespiratory conditioning is. In a nutshell, it has to do with how well your body is able to process oxygen – though many people tend to confuse it with being extremely skinny or thin. Having a thin body does not equate to cardiorespiratory fitness. It’s basically a creative way of saying your heart and lungs can keep up to pace with your muscles when you’re active. If you are in good cardiorespiratory condition, then you are one step closer to being fit. It improves endurance and allows you to maintain the correct body weight.
The information below will help you to improve your cardiorespiratory condition in two months or less.
Length: Exercise 15 minutes to 1 hour daily
Intensity: At least 60% of your total heart rate
Exercises: Engage in more cardiovascular activities like swimming, running cycling or simple take a long walk every evening.
Frequency: Exercise no less than three times weekly.
This is very important to professional athletes who are on a court of field for an hour or more. It has to do with how long your muscles can perform before experiencing cramps. However, it doesn’t have to be as intense as a super bowl game, it could mean how long you are able to carry a toddler before your muscles start cramping.
Refer to the information below to improve your muscle endurance
Exercise: Do exercises like: Push-ups, dips, V-Ups, Squat Throws, Calf Raises
Intensity: Between 40 to 60% of your maximum body weight should be used when exercising
Duration: 15 to 20 minutes at least 3 times a week
This is very similar to muscular endurance. It has to do with the amount of force your muscles can generate during physical activities while endurance has to do with how long you can perform the task. There are two types, dynamic and static. Dynamic has to do with the maximum amount of weight your muscles can move when you engage in activities such as curls, push-ups and bench presses.
Static revolves around the weight your muscles can hold during physical activities without moving. This makes perfect sense since your purpose to become fit often has to do with your desire to perform daily tasks without suffering from physical injuries. Especially for those of us who indulge in strenuous activity daily. Take a look at the table below.
Exercise: During a mixture of dynamic and static muscle strength exercises.
Frequency: Muscle strength exercising should be done at least two times every week.
Intensity: At least 80% of your total body weight should be used during exercises.
You have to be flexible before you can be fit. Otherwise it is seemingly impossible for your muscles and joints to perform different movements during exercises without suffering from an injury. The more flexible you are, the easier it is to workout.
A great way to know how flexible you are is to do the toe touch test. To do this, stand up straight with your knees together and then bend forward as naturally as you can until you touch your toes. It sounds simple but you may be surprised at how difficult this is. If you are unable to reach your toes chances are you are not as flexible as you thought you were.
The tricky thing is that you need to be flexible to exercise but to become flexible you have to exercise. Therefore, it will require a lot of work but once you get the hang of it, it’s less likely that you will be injured when you exercise. Your muscles and joints age as you age so to keep them “young” you will need to exercise. Extra attention should be given to the muscles in your thighs and lower back since they are more prone to injuries.
Length: Stretch for at least 10 minutes daily
Intensity: You should not feel any pain or discomfort when you stretch. If you do you should ease up and start again, gently pulling on each muscle.
Exercises: Stretching daily is a great way to enhance the flexibility of your joints and muscles.
Frequency: You should stretch before and after you work out every day.
Tips To Becoming Truly Fit
Below are a few tips you can follow on your journey to fitness according to the National Federation of Professional Trainers.
- Warm up for at least 10 minutes before you begin exercising daily. To improve flexibility stretch for a few minutes then take a walk down the block to improve your cardiorespiratory condition.
- Do 3 sets of weight training exercises such as pulling, pushing, and squatting respectively for at least 25 minutes.
- Do cardiovascular exercise for at least 10 minutes when you work out. While exercising you heartbeat should be at least 70%.
- After each workout, rest for at least five minutes before stretching. This way your muscles will have enough time to avoid injuries.
Some exercises you may do while working out are: rows, pull downs, pull ups, military press, chest press, squatting, legs curls, leg extensions, and many more. Always try to keep it interesting.