The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans were created by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. This publication recommends that all adults should avoid inactivity to promote good health mentally and physically. For substantial health benefits, adults should participate in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
Possibly one of the most important parts of fitness training is flexibility and mobility. Flexibility is the ability of your muscles to stretch, and mobility is being able to move your joints and tissues through their full range of motion. Both are important to athletic performance and for avoiding injury. Muscles and joints that are flexible and mobile — as well as strong — are much less susceptible to sprains and other injuries.
The US guidelines continue: For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
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.
These types include cardiorespiratory endurance, which is how long or fast a person can perform an activity and how this impacts heart rate and oxygen consumption. Muscular strength, which is how much weight can be moved in relation to repetitions and muscular power, which is how much force can be generated during a given activity. There is also flexibility, how far a muscle group can be stretched or joint can be moved. Balance how long a particular position can be held with or without some type of activity being performed. Speed, how quickly an individual can move from one point to another. And body composition, the amount of fat on the body versus other tissues such as muscle, bones and skin.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical fitness is defined as 'the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies.' Based on this definition, fitness involves everything from getting out of bed to hiking to performing CPR.
Fitness is defined as the quality or state of being fit. Around 1950, perhaps consistent with the Industrial Revolution and the treatise of World War II, the term "fitness" increased in western vernacular by a factor of ten. The modern definition of fitness describes either a person or machine's ability to perform a specific function or a holistic definition of human adaptability to cope with various situations. This has led to an interrelation of human fitness and attractiveness that has mobilized global fitness and fitness equipment industries. Regarding specific function, fitness is attributed to persons who possess significant aerobic or anaerobic ability, i.e. endurance or strength. A well-rounded fitness program improves a person in all aspects of fitness compared to practicing only one, such as only cardio/respiratory endurance or only weight training.
People who are physically fit are also healthier, are able to maintain their most optimum weight, and are also not prone to cardiac and other health problems. In order to maintain a relaxed state of mind, a person should be physically active. A person who is fit both physically and mentally is strong enough to face the ups and downs of life, and is not affected by drastic changes if they take place.
^ Colbert LH, Visser M, Simonsick EM, Tracy RP, Newman AB, Kritchevsky SB, Pahor M, Taaffe DR, Brach J, Rubin S, Harris TB (July 2004). "Physical activity, exercise, and inflammatory markers in older adults: findings from the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study". Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 52 (7): 1098–104. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2004.52307.x. PMID 15209647.
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.
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Eccentric training is another type of physical fitness training centered on improving eccentric muscle contraction. As a backgrounder, this type of muscle contraction occurs when the muscle elongates or lengthens from the influence of an opposing force. The contraction happens explicitly when a muscle gives in or goes with the flow or direction of an opposing force.
Strength refers to the ability of your muscles to perform work at one time, such as lifting a heavy barbell. You build strength by putting enough resistance against your muscles that you cause damage to them. When your muscles repair themselves in response to this damage, they grow bigger. Since your heart and lungs are muscles, some people refer to your cardio capacity as cardio strength.
Many of the activities you do to build strength will also help your balance. Balance is partly a matter of developing your small stabilizer muscles that provide support and keep you steady. Free weight exercises, such as lunges and deadlifts, will help strengthen the stabilizer muscles. Even better, include some single-leg exercises, such as single-leg deadlifts and pistol squats, in your strength-training routine.
Weightlifting. Lifting weights is the classic strength-building exercise. From triceps kickbacks with 5-pound dumbbells to Olympic lifts with 500 pounds on a barbell, anyone can do weight training. And it's not just dumbbells and barbells; you can use machines, resistance bands, kettlebells, medicine balls and many other pieces of equipment. Weightlifting also often includes accessory exercises using body weight only.
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.