MAKING A COMMITMENT
You have taken the important first step on the path to physical fitness by seeking information. The next step is to decide that you are going to be physically fit. This pamphlet is designed to help you reach that decision and your goal.
The decision to carry out a physical fitness program cannot be taken lightly. It requires a lifelong commitment of time and effort. Exercise must become one of those things that you do without question, like bathing and brushing your teeth. Unless you are convinced of the benefits of fitness and the risks of unfitness, you will not succeed.
Patience is essential. Don’t try to do too much too soon and don’t quit before you have a chance to experience the rewards of improved fitness. You can’t regain in a few days or weeks what you have lost in years of sedentary living, but you can get it back if your persevere. And the prize is worth the price.
CHECKING YOUR HEALTH
If you’re under 35 and in good health, you don’t need to see a doctor before beginning an exercise program. But if you are over 35 and have been inactive for several years, you should consult your physician, who may or may not recommend a graded exercise test. Other conditions that indicate a need for medical clearance are:
o High blood pressure.
o Heart trouble.
o Family history of early stroke or heart attack deaths.
o Frequent dizzy spells.
o Extreme breathlessness after mild exertion.
o Arthritis or other bone problems.
o Severe muscular, ligament or tendon problems.
o Other known or suspected disease.
Physical fitness is to the human body what fine tuning is to an engine. It enables us to perform up to our potential. Fitness can be described as a condition that helps us look, feel and do our best. More specifically, it is:
“The ability to perform daily tasks vigorously and alertly, with energy left over for enjoying leisure-
time activities and meeting emergency demands. It is the ability to endure, to bear up, to withstand
stress, to carry on in circumstances where an unfit person could not continue, and is a major basis
for good health and well-being.”
Physical fitness involves the performance of the heart and lungs, and the muscles of the body. And, since what we do with our bodies also affects what we can do with our minds, fitness influences to some degree qualities such as mental alertness and emotional stability.
KNOWING THE BASICS
Physical fitness is most easily understood by examining its components, or “parts.” There is widespread agreement that these four components are basic:
Cardiorespiratory 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-andreach
test is a good measure of flexibility of the lower back and backs of the upper legs.
is often considered a component of fitness. It refers to the makeup of the body in terms of lean mass (muscle, bone, vital tissue and organs) and fat mass. An optimal ratio of fat
A WORKOUT SCHEDULE
How often, how long and how hard you exercise, and what kinds of exercises you do should be determined by what you are trying to accomplish. Your goals, your present fitness level, age, health, skills, interest and convenience are among the factors you should consider. For example, an athlete training for high-level competition would follow a different program than a person whose goals are good health and the ability to meet work and recreational needs.
Your exercise program should include something from each of the four basic fitness components described previously. Each workout should begin with a warmup and end with a cooldown. As a general rule, space your workouts throughout the week and avoid consecutive days of hard exercise.
Here are the amounts of activity necessary for the average healthy person to maintain a minimum level of overall fitness. Included are some of the popular exercises for each category.
WARMUP - 5-10 minutes of exercise such as walking, slow jogging, knee lifts, arm circles or trunk rotations. Low intensity movements that simulate movements to be used in the activity can also be included in the warmup.
MUSCULAR STRENGTH -
a minimum of two 20-minute sessions per week that include exercises for all the major muscle groups. Lifting weights is the most effective way to increase strength.
MUSCULAR ENDURANCE - at least three 30-minute s
essions each week that include exercises such as calisthenics, pushups, situps, pullups, and weight training for all the major muscle groups.
CARDIORESPIRATORY ENDURANCE - at least three 20-minute bouts of continuous aerobic (activity requiring oxygen) rhythmic exercise each week. Popular aerobic conditioning activities include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, rope-jumping, rowing, cross-country skiing, and some continuous action games like racquetball and handball.
FLEXIBILITY - 10-12 minutes of daily stretching exercises performed slowly, without a bouncing motion. This can be included after a warmup or during a cooldown.
COOL DOWN - a minimum of 5-10 minutes of slow walking, low-level exercise, combined with stretching.