Bioelectrical Impedance - This test measures body composition. Using either a hand-held or at-home scale, a slight electrical signal is sent through either the hands or feet. Body fat percentage is estimated based on the speed in which the signal passes through body tissues. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE) men with a body fat percentage of 14-17% and women with a body fat percentage of 21-24% are considered to be in the 'fitness' category.
Developing research has demonstrated that many of the benefits of exercise are mediated through the role of skeletal muscle as an endocrine organ. That is, contracting muscles release multiple substances known as myokines, which promote the growth of new tissue, tissue repair, and various anti-inflammatory functions, which in turn reduce the risk of developing various inflammatory diseases.
Before the industrial revolution, fitness was defined as the capacity to carry out the day’s activities without undue fatigue. However, with automation and changes in lifestyles physical fitness is now considered a measure of the body's ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypokinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations.
Calisthenics. There's nothing fancy about a calisthenics workout, but just because it's basic doesn't mean it's not effective. A 2017 study in Isokinetics and Exercise Science put a group of untrained individuals through a calisthenics program to test the effectiveness of an exercise method that uses no equipment. Participants did a brief workout consisting of four or five exercises three days a week for eight weeks. At the end of the trial, all participants had significant improvements in posture, strength and body composition.
A comprehensive fitness program tailored to an individual typically focuses on one or more specific skills, and on age- or health-related needs such as bone health. Many sources also cite mental, social and emotional health as an important part of overall fitness. This is often presented in textbooks as a triangle made up of three points, which represent physical, emotional, and mental fitness. Physical fitness can also prevent or treat many chronic health conditions brought on by unhealthy lifestyle or aging. Working out can also help some people sleep better and possibly alleviate some mood disorders in certain individuals.
To exercise, work, do daily chores and play sports, you’ll need varying levels of cardiorespiratory capacity and stamina, muscle strength and endurance, footwork skills and speed. Training for one type of fitness often requires different types of exercises than training for another type of fitness. For example, strength training uses heavy weights and slower muscle movements than sprint training, which is performed with little resistance and high-speed muscle movements. These different types of fitness workouts recruit different muscle fibers and burn different amounts of fat and glycogen. It's best to focus on strength and endurance exercise during a sport off-season, and work on speed and recovery during the preseason and in season.
Exercise and physical activity fall into four basic categories—endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Most people tend to focus on one activity or type of exercise and think they’re doing enough. Each type is different, though. Doing them all will give you more benefits. Mixing it up also helps to reduce boredom and cut your risk of injury. Employing a right mix of two or more of the aforementioned types of training can promote well-rounded physical fitness. For example, a combination of agility training and eccentric training is useful in sports that require strength, endurance, and coordination such as basketball and football. A combination of strength training and continuous training benefits individuals who want to maintain a certain type of physique.
Endurance is your ability to perform physical activity over time. You might be able to serve aces and hit winning forehands and backhands, but if your muscles cramp or you run out of energy after a few games, you won’t win any matches. You build endurance by exercising for longer periods without stopping, working at a slower speed than when you interval train. This type of exercise is usually aerobic, calling on your slow-twitch muscle fibers and burning more fat than glycogen, depending on the speed you work. The slower you work, the higher percentage of your calories burned comes from fat.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.