What is Fitness? Part 1

There’s a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be fit.

Does it mean I have to have bulging biceps? Or ripped abs? Do I have to spend two hours at a gym? Do I have to run if I hate running?

No, none of that defines fitness.

Fitness (and being fit) simply means being able to perform physical activities, carry out daily tasks, and having enough energy and strength to participate in activities beyond your daily doings. It’s the ability to live your life to the fullest and to feel as good as possible.

Who wouldn’t want that?  And, no, you don’t have to spend 2 hours a day in the gym to get it.

Getting more fit, even just a little more fit, can improve your health, and anyone, no matter how limited or what age, can do something to improve their fitness level.

What are the Benefits of Fitness?

Being fit gives you energy for all the activities in your life. You’ll have the energy for your work and your play. More energy for chasing around the kids, or running that marathon, or just feeling more energetic, vibrant, and being your personal best. 

And let’s not forget our children. Children and teens who are fit have more energy, better focus, and better self-esteem.

Another plus is when you stay active and fit, you burn more calories – even while sleeping.  

Good For Your Health

Improving your fitness is good for the total you – your heart, lungs, bones, joints, brain and so on.

  • It lowers your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Improves mental health and is shown to help relieve depression, anxiety, and stress
  • It improves health conditions you might have and helps prevent health concerns in the future.
  • It can even help you sleep better!

Sold yet? Good! You can’t go wrong by getting more fit.

3 Components of Physical Fitness

There are 3 main components of physical fitness and all are important to achieving total fitness and health.   

Today, I’m going to cover the first

1) Cardiovascular Exercise

This means improving the ability of your heart and lungs to pump and deliver oxygen to your body and muscles. It’s any exercise that uses the large muscles of the body in a continuous manner, raising the heart rate and circulating blood flow for a period of time- usually 20-60 mins.

Benefits Include:

  • Increases oxygen and blood flow
  • Flushes your lymphatic system
  • increases endurance
  • lowers your blood pressure
  • strengthens your immune system
  • improves your sleep
  • supports your mental health
  • regulates your blood sugar
  • contributes to a healthy weight
  • gives your brain a boost
  • Gives skin a youthful appearance
  • and more!

Exercises include:

  • Dancing, walking, bicycling, swimming, jogging, rebounding, playing with the kids or grandkids, and anything else you might enjoy!

Recommended Guidelines for Health-Related Cardio Fitness:

  • Do some sort of moderate cardio activity 30 mins a day 5 days a week (2 1/2 hours of exercise a week) Moderate-intensity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate, yet still being able to talk.  
  • Or a more vigorous activity 20 mins a day, 3 days a week (a total of an hour a week). This is working at a level where you find it difficult to carry on a conversation.

Note: Those who are trying to lose weight or maintain a weight loss may need more activity or higher intensity. The 30-minute recommendation is for the average healthy adult to maintain health and reduce the risk of chronic disease.  

  • Children 6 and over should be doing some type of moderate to vigorous activity at least 1 hour every day. This can be through structured activities or just getting up and playing outside.

How to Be more Physically Active Without the Gym

Along with the recommended guidelines above, get in the habit of adding in more activity throughout your day. Make activity a part of your life: 

  • Use stairs instead of elevator
  • Walk to do errands near the home (if it’s safe to do so)
  • When shopping and your cart is full, walk around the perimeter of the store 2-3 times before checking out.  
  • Play tag with the kids- it’s good for them, too!
  • Pull weeds instead of spraying – it’s better for you and the environment
  • Wash your car – it will burn those calories while saving you bucks!
  • Mop the old fashioned way – on hands and knees
  • Dance, dance dance around the house like no one is watching (and if they are, who cares?). 

You get the idea, find ways to get more active and make cardio fun. Get creative and find activities you enjoy (invite your family and friends to join you!). Pretty soon, you’ll be on your way to enjoying all that fitness can bring!

Look for Part 2 coming next where we’ll cover the next 2 components of being physically fit!

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