To get in top physical shape, you’ll need to work on three different areas of cardiorespiratory fitness. Capacity is the amount of work you can do, such as how fast you can perform a sprint or dash. Stamina refers to how long you can exercise. For example, a sprinter is faster than a marathon runner, but probably can’t run as long or as far as the marathoner. Anaerobic conditioning helps you work at very high intensities and helps you recover more quickly afterward. For example, many basketball players have no problem making fast breaks down the court, but afterward, you see them grabbing their knees, gasping for breath as they try to recover. Interval training consists of many high-intensity bursts of activity, each followed by a recovery period. These recovery periods, which occur many times during an interval workout, help you improve your ability to catch your breath after a point or play and recover for the start of the next one.
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.
Strength training is one of the five types of physical fitness training that revolve around building muscle mass and bone density, as well as improving the strength and endurance of muscles by inducing muscle contraction through the use of resistance. It also enhances the functions of the joints and develops the sturdiness of tendons and ligament, thus reducing the risk of injuries from physical activities.
If you've ever fallen in the shower trying to wash one foot while standing on the other, you realize the importance of having good balance. But balance is important for so many other reasons. Especially as you age, improving your balance can help you avoid falls and stay active and independent. Better balance can also improve your performance in your favorite athletic activity.
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.
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.
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.
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.