Being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym for 30 minutes. Depending on your lifestyle, you may stay active due to the nature of your job, hobbies or school life. Your fitness level isn’t necessarily determined by what you choose to do for daily physical activity but it certainly plays a part. Unfortunately assessing fitness does not have one magical formula that applies to all individuals as there are many factors that influence your degree of fitness like muscle tissue type, lifestyle, body weight and height, nutrition and genes to name a few. For example, a bricklayer may lift hundreds of pounds in weight every day with ease but yet not be able to run fast. On the other hand, a jogger may run 5 miles a day and yet not be able to bench press more than 50 pounds. Or a baseball player may have great upper body strength, yet have extremely poor flexibility.
Experts agree that there are five different elements that can be measured when it comes to your fitness level:
- Muscular strength
- Degree of flexibility
- Muscular endurance
- Cardiovascular/aerobic endurance
- Body composition
In general, specific techniques are necessary to measure the above 5 parameters, but for the majority of people, there is absolutely no need to go to a sports clinic, spend big money and undergo all types of imaging, biochemical and exercise study to determine their degree of fitness- this type of testing only applies to small population like professional athletes.
To be fit, you need to work to incorporate the above 5 elements in your exercise program. To start on a fitness program, read the following tips:
- Get medical clearance: It is recommended that you first get clearance from a healthcare provider to ensure that you are medically fit for a certain exercise.
- Follow exercise guidelines: Today there are minimum exercise guidelines for people of all ages. For healthy adults, the guidelines acccording to the Department of Human Health and Services include the following:
- Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.
- Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least 2 days per week.
- Spend less time sitting. Even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.
- Gain even more benefits by being active at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week.
- Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.
- Start with walking: For those just starting into a fitness program, start with walking and enlist a friend to join you. Walking is not difficult, does not cost anything, allows you to enjoy nature and is perfectly safe. To be effective, walk at least 30-45 minutes every day. Don’t forget to stretch!
- Set your own goals. The key to fitness is to set your own goals and not to compete with others. You need to be satisfied and comfortable with what you are doing.
- Be realistic: The key to fitness is to have a realistic expectation of your goals. If you are trying to lose weight, then set a goal of losing 2-3 pounds a month. While this may sound low, in 12 months, that can amount to 24-36 pounds. On the other hand, if you set too high a goal and fail to achieve it, you will be disappointed and discouraged.
- Enjoy it: One of the key reasons why many people stop exercising regularly is because they overexert themselves and fail to enjoy the exercise. So go slow, enjoy what you are doing, add variety to your exercise regimen; walk one day, go to the gym the next day, swim on the third day, go biking over the weekend, etc. If you enjoy it, you are more likely to achieve your goals and keep on doing the physical activity.
When you start to feel better about your body, feel less stressed, have mental clarity, are at a healthy weight, can walk or run without difficulty, can perform daily living activities with no complaints, have no muscle or joint pains and want to continue exercise- then consider youself fit. If you would like to compete with others or set a specific fitness goal, there are ways to get more precise in terms of measurements and in this case a personal trainer can help you keep track of those goals.
Start (or keep) exercising today! Thanks for reading!
Contributor: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness. Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate wellness solutions. Visit www.milehighfitness.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org