Fitness is a three-pronged goal involving strength, endurance, and flexibility. True bodily fitness will incorporate all three of these elements.
Too often, a person will consider himself fit when he is only doing well in one or two of these areas, but they complement each other. Create a well-rounded fitness regimen which incorporates all of them.
So as to establish long-lasting fitness, make sure there are activities in this mix which you truly enjoy as well so that you want to go to the gym, start your run, or head to the pool on a regular basis. Consider getting fit with friends or at least involving them sometimes, and add variety to your workout so you don’t end up not completing it because of boredom.
Many people are strong without looking strong. They have long lean muscles instead of big bulky ones. Either way is legitimate: people build muscle in different ways, although it is possible to train muscles to take a longer shape using Pilates, for instance. The nature of certain moves tends to lead to bulkiness, so if that’s not your thing, consider weight training which involves lengthening elements, especially those using one’s own body weight.
Vary your strength-training routine to involve all parts of your body, but not all on the same day. If you plan to incorporate strength moves into every workout, tax legs one day and arms the next, alternating so each muscle group has a chance to rest and recover.
When you workout big muscle groups like your thighs and buttocks, you are already using a lot of energy, but consider adding cardio to moves. Squat then rise up on your toes and hold that pose. Squat and shuffle while remaining in a seated posture. Move side-to-side while doing bicep curls. Do controlled punching movements while holding light weights, keeping your arms at shoulder level to maintain the integrity of your move throughout.
If weight loss is a goal, gaining muscle mass will help you to burn more calories. Numbers on the scale will rise at first, but only to reflect the density of muscle as opposed to fat. Stronger muscles will also support weak areas such as knee and arm joints and your back, though not without proper stretching and control. Always keep your core tight when lifting weights: don’t let your back arch. The damage you cause will undo all the good you are trying to accomplish.
Studies have shown that sweating and panting aren’t doing your heart or your fitness as much good as you think. At the same time, an unfit person trying to walk briskly, swim, or run will get out of breath because his cardiovascular system is unfit. It takes time to build this up but you will be doing your heart and lungs a world of good. The heart is a muscle, after all: the way to work it is to raise your heart rate to a reasonable level for a minimum of 20 minutes daily, preferably more like 45 minutes or more. An ideal day will see spurts of activity at intervals which last at least 20 minutes, possibly enough of them to add up to two or three hours, but even that short burst is, of course, better than sitting around all the time which is typical in the life of an office worker.
On an elliptical trainer, you will burn a lot of calories and increase endurance without feeling like you worked hard. There are many inexpensive compact models for use in the home and they are standard equipment at fitness centers.
Fitness experts suggest interval training which might include some kind of weight lifting but which prevents your heart rate from reaching a plateau and staying there for too long. You want to feel like you’re working, relaxing a little without winding down, then pushing hard again, resting, and so on.
If your body isn’t allowed to settle into a steady pace, the heart is forced to work harder. You get fitter in less time and you burn more calories. Walk up and down hills. Go for a swim. Take up running, dancing, or heavy-duty gardening, making sure you protect your back and abdomen the entire time by tightening those muscles. Also ensure that impact is part of your routine to stimulate bone marrow development and bone density.
All the work noted above is a waste of time if you are not flexible. You’ll strain or even injure muscles and tendons, putting yourself out of commission, only capable of working around the damaged area. Stretch before and after working out by gently easing into moves which elongate muscles. This will prepare them for a full range of motion and warm them up: warm muscles are less prone to injury. If you work out on a cold day, be sure to stay warm.
Muscles crave hydration and oxygen. Give them what they want by breathing deeply during stretching and workouts. Drink plenty of water, but not enough to create a waterlogged feeling, and be sure to consume potassium (bananas, tomatoes, and pickles) for electrolytes so you don’t feel dizzy.
Oxygen circulation is important, so wear clothing which will not restrict blood flow and eat enough protein to support red blood cells.
Eat Well for Fitness
A healthy diet supports fitness too. If you are trying to lose weight or build muscle but want to be healthy, take time to understand the relationship between food and fitness. Provide your body with protein for muscle building, especially lean meat, fish, beans, whey.
Eat antioxidant-rich food and avoid too much fat: it will leave you feeling sick when you want to move around and work hard. Digestive problems also draw a lot of water and blood from your brain and limbs to your stomach and intestines, so you could feel dizzy and even faint if your stomach is not in good shape. Be consistent, and if you want to introduce a new eating regimen, build up to it slowly.