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.
^ 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.
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.
Aquajogging is a form of exercise that decreases strain on joints and bones. The water supplies minimal impact[clarification needed] to muscles and bones, which is good for those recovering from injury. Furthermore, the resistance of the water as one jogs through it provides an enhanced effect of exercise (the deeper you are the greater the force needed to pull your leg through).
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.
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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.
It's crucial to stretch and work on range of motion before and after each workout as part of your warmup and cool down. Before your workout, warm up for five to 10 minutes with light cardio; then do some dynamic stretches and mobility exercises. If you're going to be doing a leg heavy workout, for example, pay special attention to the joints and muscles in your lower body.
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.
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.