Now we have a look at fitness, being active will assist fitness but how do you focus attention on improving fitness?
Why should I be fitter?
. Helps fat loss
. Better for muscle and bones
. Increased energy levels
. Improved mood
. Reduces risk of chronic diseases
. Assist brain and skin health
. Helps sleep patterns
. Reduces pain
. Allows additional activities (marathons etc)
Types of fitness
. Aerobic fitness
. Muscular strength
. Muscular endurance
. Body composition
How to improve each of the above
Aerobic fitness is a form of cardiovascular fitness and is typically middle to long distance/time - think marathons, 10K & 5K's
To train this system I would focus on spending longer periods of time at around 60-80% of your maximum heart rate* to improve fitness levels (below). If you are new to exercise or currently overweight I would suggest low impact exercises such as crosstrainer, rower or bike to protect your joints.
This form of training is commonly referred to as steady state cardio, this form of training takes longer than others but will focus attention on your fitness level.
* Maximum HR = 220-Age
There is two different ways of thinking about muscles - strength or endurance
Strength is the amount you can lift and endurance is how often you can that weight - as you would expect they are very closely linked and developed together through correct training.
To increase strength you should:
. Lift between 1-6 repetitions
. Lift 80-100% 1RM
. Progress volume before intensity
. Focus on form
. Rest 3-5 minutes between sets
Strength training is very physically demanding and requires a lot of central nervous system recruitment so make sure you do not overtrain, maintain form and rest sufficiently as you are at risk of injury.
As stated above muscular endurance relates to how often or long you can lift/push/pull/hold muscular recruitment for. I like to think of endurance in two ways:
Bodyweight - how long you can maintain an exercise for using your bodyweight, this includes running, squats, jumps, plank, walking etc
Resistance - how many times you can lift a certain weight, this includes all resistance exercises (inside or outside of the gym)
To improve each of these it is all about frequency/volume. Simply put, increase the amount of times you perform the exercise. For example running, if you can only run 2 miles before your muscles hurt and have to stop - keep repeating 2 miles till you can do 2.1 miles, this is increased muscle endurance as your body has increased its endurance for running.
The protector! We always forget to stretch and improve flexibility but I am a strong believer that stretching is more important today than ever. Spending long periods of time seated wrecks the body, we are experiencing more and more back and knee injuries so we need to look at stretching and strengthening more.
First of all let's talk about how to stretch as I see it wrong all the time. When you stretch find the point of mild discomfort and then hold the stretch for as long as you need - if the discomfort reduces push the stretch more. Never release a stretch till you finished.
To maintain flexibility - 0-2 minutes
To improve your flexibility - 2 minutes minimum
You don't necessarily have to lift heavy, run fast or run like forrest.
Just by having a healthy lifestyle, eat well and balanced is a form of fitness.
Being overweight has dramatic impacts on general fitness so look after yourself and fitness will look after you.
Be your best.