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Physical Fitness

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   Physical fitness is made up of two concepts, general fitness and specific fitness. General fitness is a state of health and wellness that allows us to function throughout our day. This is the type of fitness we will be discussing; where as specific fitness refers to the ability to perform specific aspects of sports or occupations.  General fitness is the ability to perform day-to-day activities with enough energy to handle excess stress from emergencies that may arise.
There are five health components that make up physical fitness:

• Cardiovascular Fitness
- the ability of the circulatory system (heart and blood vessels) to supply oxygen to working muscles during exercise.
• Muscular strength - the greatest amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert in a single effort.
• Muscular endurance - the ability of a muscle or muscle group to perform repeated movements with a sub-maximal force for extended periods of times.
• Flexibility - the ability to move the joints or any group of joints through an entire, normal range of motion.
• Body composition - the percentage of body fat a person has in comparison to his or her total body mass.

When working on your own physical fitness it is important to address all 5 categories, not just one or two.  Any type of exercise is good for the body, however when we are working on specific areas we have to do certain types of exercise.  Everyone knows that being overweight and having excess fat is disparaging to one’s appearance however it also negatively affects ones health and physical performance.
    One additional component of physical fitness is skill related or motor fitness. Skill related fitness normally applies to specific fitness rather than general fitness. Motor fitness refers to the ability of an athlete to perform successfully at a sport. 

There are six skill related components:

• Speed
: The ability to move quickly from one point to another in a straight line
• Agility : The ability of the body to change direction quickly
• Balance : The ability to maintain an upright posture while still or moving
• Coordination : Integration with hand and/or foot movements with the input of the senses.
• Reaction Time : Amount of time it takes to get moving.
• Power : The ability to do strength work at an explosive pace.

Athletes are normally born with a heightened ability in one or two of these areas, however they train for years to improve in the other areas. Although training can only improve within the limits of an athlete’s potential.
    Fitness is an important aspect of health and should always be maintained.  If you are looking to lose weight, increase muscle mass, become an athlete or just improve your physical fitness all the components of physical and motor fitness should be included in your program.  Before you get started it is important to understand the basic exercise principles. By understanding these principles you can easily develop and manipulate an effective workout program. The same basic principles apply to all levels of physical fitness from a professional athlete to a first time runner.

F.I.T.T. is the basic principle to remember for exercise variables.

• Frequency - how often you exercise
• Intensity - how hard you exercise
• Time - how long you exercise
• Type - the type of exercise you're doing (e.g., running, walking, etc.)

As you continue to workout and increase your intensity, time and frequency, and you will notice the improvement in your body. Your weight, body fat, endurance, strength and muscle mass will change. Once you stop seeing a change its time to modify the FITT variables. Whether you increase time, weight, length, or exercise, or maybe all of them, you will continue your progress.
Other basic exercise principles include the specificity, rest/recovery and progressive resistance (overload principle) principles.

    Your exercise program should be directed at your specific goals. Whatever exercises you decide to do, they should match your overall goal. For example, if you want to become a runner, you won’t swim laps in a pool. For overall fitness and health, focus on total body strength, cardio and diet. Make sure you set a goal and determine your exercises based on your goals.

Rest and Recovery
    Most people try to go all out when they start a new workout, which ultimately can hurt them in the long run. Although, exercising everyday is important, it’s essential to allow your body adequate rest and recovery time. When developing your workouts always factor in enough recovery time for your body and muscles. If you are doing strength training and cardio flip flop your days (cardio, strength training, cardio, etc.). This will allow your muscle groups enough recovery time. Or if you have heavy training one day, follow it with an easier day. Another way is to alternate muscle groups exercised every other day. If you do not allow enough time for recovery you risk injuring your muscles.

Progressive Resistance (the Overload Principle)
The overload principle requires an increase of frequency, intensity, and time of workouts to improve strength, endurance, and fitness. The workload of each exercise session should exceed the demands normally placed upon the body. An easy way to accomplish this is to do different activities each time you work out.
woman improving her physical fitness through exercise