Monday, April 28, 2014
We are constantly being reminded of how important it is to maintain a healthy level of fitness. So, how do we evaluate how fit we are? It’s not as simple as stepping on a scale and reading off the number. There are several components to take into consideration.
Overall physical fitness is comprised of five different things:
1. Cardiovascular Endurance – how well your heart and lungs work together to fuel your body with oxygen.
2. Muscular Strength – how much force your muscles can exert in a single effort.
3. Muscular Endurance – how much your muscles can repeat those exertions of force without experiencing fatigue.
4. Flexibility –how far muscles can stretch, and the ability to move joints through their full range of motion.
5. Body Composition – the percentage of fat, muscle, and bone in the body, which is typically expressed as a ratio of lean mass to fatty mass.
It’s important to evaluate yourself on each of these elements to determine your level of fitness. A marathon runner, for example, may have excellent cardiovascular endurance but rate poorly in muscular strength and endurance. In contrast, someone who is able to bench press a lot of weight may struggle and be unable to jog a mile. That’s why it’s best to work on all five categories to maintain good health. A personal trainer or someone at your gym can help test your performance in these areas and assess your level of fitness.
Once you know how you rate, you can design your fitness program to cover areas where you are lacking. You can better understand how much time you need to put in on various exercises to get you in top physical shape. Aerobic activity such as running, swimming, cycling, or rowing can improve your cardiovascular endurance. Strength training will improve your muscular strength and endurance, while flexibility can be improved through stretching, yoga, or pilates.
As you begin to work on all these different components, you will notice a change in your body composition. Keeping an eye on this can help you lower your risk for health issues. The best way to measure this is with skinfold calipers. This will give you a more complete picture, rather than just knowing how much you weigh.
Working on all five elements will impact your life in many ways. Not only will it decrease your risk of health problems, you’ll find your daily tasks getting a lot easier. It will help you gain the stamina and strength that is required to get you through the day. This is especially important to focus on as we age. Improving one’s overall level of fitness will provide a much better quality of life!