Fitness: General Info
Physical fitness is important in everyone’s life. Fitness promotes good mental and physical health, helps control weight, and can even help alleviate sleep problems. There are numerous programs that can help you to set and reach your fitness goals.
Types of fitness programs
Some fitness programs focus on specific types of exercise. The most popular types of exercise programs emphasize aerobics or weight training. Besides aerobic and muscular training, it is important to work on improving flexibility, stability, and balance. Most fitness trainers promote a mix of exercises that should improve fitness in all of those areas.
Aerobic exercise involves movement that causes the heart and lungs to work harder, thereby leading to healthier hearts and lungs. Some of the more popular aerobics exercises are: walking, running, cross-country skiing, swimming, bicycling, water aerobics, and aerobic dance.
Weight training, also called strength training, usually involves the use of weights. A training program can involve the use of free weights or a variety of weight machines. Some callisthenic exercises such as pull-ups and push-ups are also used for strength training. It is a good idea for at least part of any fitness program to involve weight-bearing exercises. This type of exercise helps to avoid osteoporosis and bone fracture problems that can arise later in life. Weight-bearing exercises include walking, running, dancing, and weight training.
All fitness programs generally stress stretching as a means of promoting flexibility. Activities such as yoga are also popular for improving flexibility and balance.
Benefits of physical fitness
Physical fitness is beneficial insofar as it:
- Reduces the health risks of heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
- Reduces some effects of aging.
- Relieves stress and anxiety.
- Helps keep joints, ligaments, and tendons flexible.
- Can reduce depression and improve the sense of well being.
- Increases energy and endurance.
- Increases metabolism, which can help control weight.
Recommendations for starting and sticking to a fitness programme
If you are planning to start a vigorous fitness program, it may be wise to consult your physician first. Checking with a physician is specifically recommended for men over age 40, and women over age 50. It is also recommended for anyone who has chronic health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, asthma, or obesity. Pregnant women should also consult their physicians. Generally, you do not need to see a physician about beginning moderate activities such as walking.
People give up on fitness programs for many reasons. Here are some tips to help you stick with a fitness program:
- Choose exercise activities you enjoy.
- Start slowly in order to avoid injury.
- Find a group or friend to work out with.
- Take a class.
- Try exercising at different times of day to learn what suits you best.
- Vary your exercise activities to help avoid getting bored.