Fitness and health are not the same, but they share some common behaviors. They both include regular exercise, adequate sleep, a nutritious diet, abstaining from substance abuse, an ability to cope with stress, an ability to relax, and, practicing both safety habits and preventative care habits.
The distinction to be made is that health also includes a mental and emotional well-being, not merely the absence of disease or the delay of death. While physical fitness itself will not guarantee a healthy life, it is a vital part of the total healthy person.
Physical fitness typically includes cardiovascular endurance, body composition, flexibility, muscular strength, and muscular endurance. The better our performance in these five components of fitness, the lower our risk of disease and the greater the quality of our life.
Depending on your personal goals, and your present fitness and health status, here are some basic healthy behaviors for
Adequate levels of strength – Resistance exercise – 2 to 3 times/week
Flexibility -Static stretching – daily
Aerobic exercise – Regular, vigorous, large muscle action, 3 to 6 times a week
Healthy levels of body fat – Balanced caloric intake and expenditure
Trunk flexibility and integrity – Abdominal and lower back exercises, coupled with stretches
If you are a beginner to regular exercise see your physician before starting out.
Then reflect on taking small measurable steps, in each of the above components.
Your goal is to make exercise a part of your life without making it displeasing and de-motivating.
Start your resistance training, (anaerobic), strength training, with two 20-minute sessions. In a gym setting, consider getting the advice of a qualified trainer. At home, search the Internet for information on home-based muscle work exercises, and proper form guidance.
Your aerobic exercise, the exercise for a strong heart and healthy blood vessels, can be 10 to 30 minutes per session, depending on your present ability. Shoot for everyday, and you’ll find that if you miss a few days you are still doing yourself good. Use the “talk test” to determine the intensity of your walk, jog, cycling, hiking, rowing, or skating program. If you can talk without taking a breathing break, between each word, you can go for more time and intensity.
If you are a veteran to aerobic exercise, (exercise fueled by the oxygen in your cells), and anaerobic exercise, (exercise fueled by molecules in your muscles), then you want to stretch your present limits. Challenge yourself to cross train, or do intervals of greater demand, walk or run faster, go uphill or in the sand, and add more weight resistance to your muscle work.
Taking a five minute stretch break, instead of reaching for a candy bar when faced with a stressful situation, not only disassociates your mind from the stress, but it makes your body feel better too. While sitting some muscles are in constant contraction, and this leads to lower back stiffness, shoulder, upper back, and hand discomfort. An object in motion stays in motion, an object at rest stays at rest, so move it or you’ll lose it.
Can eating less make you live longer? More and more studies are showing that caloric restriction acts as possible damage control for aging and disease. This is certainly true for regular exercise. Make a promise to yourself this week that you are going to eliminate one nasty food source.
Forget the six pack in the frig and start visualizing six pack abs. Remember dissociation clearly works. Train yourself to relieve your daily stress with a new ritual, one that crunches your abdominals and not your chops. Couple this with a gentle back exercise.
Become your own hero. Take new action on your path to your own health and you will strengthen not only yourself, but also all those you influence.
Danielle Vindez holds the vision of optimal health, conscious eating, proper exercise, and mental balance, for all those seeking to transform their lives. She serves as a role model, a life coach, a personal trainer, and a fellow student in the search for excellence.