Your Physical Fitness Program

A regular physical fitness program can reward you with many benefits. It will very likely decrease your risk of contracting various diseases, raise your sense of well-being and confidence, and improve your ability to engage in recreational sports and outdoor activities. However, you must be sure that you are healthy enough to begin exercising. Before you decide to begin, it is essential to take our exercise risk questionnaire to determine if you must get a physician’s clearance before you begin to exercise.

In regard to you health, there are many benefits of regular physical activity.. So it is important to begin exercising. Ideally, your physical fitness program will improve your aerobic endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, speed, agility, flexibility and balance. It will also improve your body composition, building muscle and reducing body fat. However, the most well-intentioned and well-designed program is only as good as your ability to stick to it. Therefore, someone who has been relatively sedentary and is just beginning a program should not try to take on too much because the body and mind need time to adjust to the demands of exercise.

All too frequently, a beginner throws himself into an exercise program and either gets hurt by ramping up too fast or burns out psychologically and just quits. Since the object is to improve health by developing a lifelong habit of exercise, it is best to undertake a physical fitness program that is appropriate in duration and intensity to your level of physical fitness and motivation. The following are general principles that will enhance the likelihood that you will make exercise a lifelong habit.

  • Decide that you really want to optimize your health, become physically fit, and maintain your health and physical capabilities as long as possible, well into your senior years.

  • Plan your weekly schedule to include time slots for your physical fitness program.

  • Determine what physical activities you would enjoy that fit into your schedule. If you don’t think you will enjoy any physical activity, it pays to start a physical fitness program anyway. You will probably begin to enjoy being physically active as you become more fit. In the meantime, select physical activities you think you can live with on your path to greater health and fitness.

  • If you can, build up to exercising at least 5 times per week for at least 30 minutes each time.

  • A minimum of 3 of your weekly exercise sessions should be aimed at improving your aerobic endurance by having you engage in such activities as walking, running, cycling, rowing, or swimming. This type of physical fitness program will help lower your risk for a number of diseases. It will help you get and stay leaner, improve your blood lipid profile (cholesterol and triglyceride levels), and enhance the health of your heart and circulatory system. However, if you feel you cannot commit to a physical fitness program involving one of the above activities, find some kind of exercise that raises your pulse rate and keeps it up for at least 30 minutes a day, 3-4 days per week. Whether it‘s gardening, dancing, or martial arts, getting off the couch and doing it will provide great benefit to you.
  • At least 2 of your weekly exercise sessions should be aimed at improving your strength and muscular endurance by having you engage in such activities as calisthenics and/or weight lifting. This type of exercise will improve your long-term health and well-being by allowing you to perform work, sports and other daily activities effectively and without injury, enhancing your ability to defend yourself, and increasing the density of your bones. In comparison to sports, dancing, or most other physical activities, a resistance exercise program can be designed to strengthen virtually all of the skeletal muscles in your body, preparing you to contend with a wide range of physical challenges.

    A well-designed resistance exercise program can also balance the strength of opposing muscles and minimize the likelihood of incurring a muscular injury when meeting an unusual physical challenge. However, if you really have an aversion to a program of weightlifting or calisthenics, try to engage in some physical activity that taxes the strength of a wide variety of your muscles.

  • For both the aerobic and resistance segments of your physical fitness program, start at low duration and intensity and increase them both gradually, especially if you have not been physically active for a long while or you are older than 45 years of age.

    For aerobic activity, the parameters of intensity are as follows:

    • Activity: Within each category of aerobic exercise there are different activities that have different intensity levels. For example, in the foot travel category, level walking is lower in intensity, while running is higher in intensity

    • Speed: In any of the aerobic exercises, intensity increases with the speed of travel, either actual or simulated on an exercise machine.

    • Incline: When you are walking, running, backpacking, or biking, intensity increases with the incline of the walking surface.

    • Resistance: Intensity increases with the resistance brought about by such things as the setting on your exercise cycle or rowing machine, the weight of your backpack, or the velocity of wind in your face.

    For resistance exercise, the parameters of intensity are as follows:

    • Activity: Whole body exercise are more intense than exercises that tax only one muscle group at a time. For example, the barbell clean and jerk exercise is more intense than the dumbbell curl exercise.

    • Speed: Fast or “explosive“ exercises are more intense than slow, controlled exercises. For example, the barbell snatch is more intense than the overhead press.

    • Resistance: For weightlifting exercises, intensity increases with the amount of weight lifted. Even with calisthenics, the way you do an exercise can affect the resistance. For example, you can increase the resistance of a pushup exercise by doing it with the feet on a box or piece of furniture.

    • Rest period: Intensity is greater as the rest period between exercises becomes shorter.

  • Work on your flexibility. While studies have failed to show reduction of injury or improved function with flexibility training, believes that flexibility training can help avoid injury in sports requiring great ranges of joint motion and can prevent or at least slow the typical age-associated decrease in range of motion.

  • Work on your agility. Agility is needed to perform well in most sports and recreational activities, and to react effectively to unexpected situations. Playing sports like soccer, basketball, tennis, or martial arts will itself train your agility, although athletes often seek an edge by supplementing their sports play with agility drills. If you prefer not to engage in agility sports, there are agility drills you can do on your own that will be posted on this web site.

  • Work on your speed. It is important to be able to move your body quickly if you want to play competitive sports. It is also useful for reacting to emergency situations. Playing various sports will give you the opportunity to practice moving quickly. If you do not prefer to play sports or the opportunity to do so is limited, you can engage in interval training to build up your speed. It involves doing activities like walking, running, rowing, swimming, or cycling at a higher speed than you would normally do, but for a shorter time or distance, followed by a recovery period in which you move at a leisurely pace. This work-rest cycle is repeated several times. More specific interval training routines will be posted on this site.

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