Physical Fitness Program

weight liftingPhysical fitness is to the human body as fine tuning is to an engine. It is the ability to perform daily tasks vigorously and alertly, with energy left over for enjoying leisurely activities.

Physical fitness involves the performance of the heart, lungs, and muscles of the body. Since what we do with our bodies also affects our mental performance, fitness influences to some degree mental alertness and emotional stability.

It is important to remember that fitness is an individual quality that varies from person to person. It is influenced by age, sex, heredity, personal habits, exercise and eating practices.

What are the four basic components of physical fitness?

Cardio respiratory Endurance – the ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues and to remove wastes, over sustained periods of time. Long runs and swims are among the methods employed in measuring this component.

Muscular Strength – the ability of a muscle to exert force for a brief period of time. Upper-body strength, for example, can be measured by various weight-lifting exercises.

Muscular Endurance – the ability of a muscle, or a group of muscles, to sustain repeated contractions or to continue applying force against a fixed object. Pushups are often used to test endurance of arm and shoulder muscles.

Flexibility – the ability to move joints and use muscles through their full range of motion. The sit-and- reach test is a good measure of flexibility of the lower back and backs of the upper legs.

Body composition refers to the makeup of the body in terms of lean mass (muscle, bone, vital tissue and organs) and fat mass. Body composition is often considered a component of fitness. An optimal ratio of fat to lean mass is an indication of fitness. The right types of exercises will help you decrease body fat and increase or maintain muscle mass.

How to Start a Fitness Program?

Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Exercise and physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination and help you lose weight. If you’re just beginning to exercise, start cautiously and progress slowly. If you have an injury or medical condition, consult your doctor or a physical therapist to help build a fitness program that gradually improves your range of motion, strength and endurance.

You probably have some idea of how fit you are. But assessing and recording baseline fitness scores can give you benchmarks against which to measure your progress. To assess your fitness level consider recording:

  • Your pulse rate before and after a one-mile walk
  • How long it takes to walk one mile
  • How many push-ups you can do at a time
  • Your waist circumference at the level of your navel
  • Your body mass index (BMI)

How to Build a Fitness Program?

It’s easy to say that you’ll exercise every day. But you’ll need a plan. As you built your fitness program, keep these points in mind:

Plan your fitness goals. Having clear goals. Are you starting a fitness program to help lose weight? Or do you have another motivation, such as preparing for a marathon?

Plan your schedule time to exercise. Finding time to exercise can be a challenge. To make it easier, schedule time to exercise as you would any other appointment.

Plan different activities. Plan to alternate among activities that emphasize different parts of your body, such as walking, swimming and strength training.

Allow time for recovery. Plan time between sessions for your body to rest and recover.

Keep these tips in mind:

Give yourself plenty of time to warm up and cool down with easy walking or stretching. Then speed up to a pace you can continue for five to 10 minutes without getting overly tired. As your stamina improves, increase the amount of time you exercise by one to five minutes per session. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

You don’t have to do all your exercise at one time. Shorter but more frequent sessions have aerobic benefits, too. 10 minutes of exercise 3 times a day may fit into your schedule better than a single 30-minute session.

If you’re not feeling good, give yourself permission to take a day or two off.

Retake your personal fitness assessment 6 weeks after you start your program and then again every 3 to 6 months. You may notice that you need to increase the amount of time you exercise in order to continue improving. Or you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you’re exercising just the right amount to meet your fitness goals.

If you lose motivation, set new goals or try a new activity. Exercising with a friend or taking a class at a fitness center may help, too.