As we start the beginning of a new year, most of us are looking for ways to take off those extra pounds we put on over the holidays, or maybe throughout the entire year. As you look at different exercise or fitness programs, you want to make sure the one that you choose has all the components of physical fitness so that you will have the best overall health. A fitness program without all of the necessary components will not enable you to be functionally fit. For example, a weight lifter can have a lot of muscular strength, but still have poor cardiovascular fitness and too much body fat. In addition, I’m sure we all know runners who have excellent cardiovascular health and low body fat, but very little muscular strength.
Therefore, when you look into a fitness program you want it to have these components:
- Cardiovascular endurance or fitness – The cardiovascular system consists of the heart and the blood vessels. It’s the system that supplies oxygen and blood throughout the body. Cardiovascular fitness is the efficiency with which the body supplies oxygen and blood to the working muscles during any extended activity. Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular fitness.
- Muscular strength – Muscle strength is defined as the greatest amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert in a single effort. Anaerobic exercise is what you want to improve muscular strength.
- Muscular endurance – Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to repeat a movement many times or to hold a particular position for an extended period of time. Both aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise improve muscular endurance.
- Flexibility – Flexibility is the ability to move the joints through an entire, normal range of motion. Flexibility is determined by the degree to which an individual muscle will lengthen. Stretching improves flexibility.
- Body composition – Body composition is the percentage of body fat a person has in comparison to his or her total body mass. Improving the first three components of fitness listed above will have a positive impact on body composition and will result in less fat. Excessive body fat detracts from the other fitness components, reduces performance, detracts from appearance, and negatively affects your health.
Other factors such as speed, agility, balance, coordination, reaction time, and power are classified as components of “motor” fitness. These factors most affect your athletic ability. Appropriate training can improve these factors within the limits of your potential. A sensible weight loss and fitness program seeks to improve or maintain all the components of physical and motor fitness through sound, progressive, mission-specific physical training.
I hope this helps you in choosing the correct fitness program for you. If you’re interested in more information about diet, nutrition, and fitness to start this new year off on the right foot, stay tuned for future posts that will cover those topics.