There are essentially three types of fitness: strength training, agility and flexibility. Aerobic fitness condition the heart and lungs. Muscle conditioning also includes muscular balance. Strength training builds and maintains skeletal muscles as well as providing overall fitness. Strength training exercises increase bone strength and mass, improve motor coordination, and provide resistance for weight training. Flexibility exercises to improve range-of-motion and range-of-tension and include strength training benefits.
Flexibility is the result of muscle fitness and physical exercise. It is an important component of an athlete’s ability to move quickly, react quickly, and absorb shock. The majority of our joints possess flexibility, however as we age or during certain types of injuries our tendons and muscles lose their elasticity. This lessens the ability of our joints to bend and move correctly. When we do become fit our muscles become stronger and our tendons and muscles become less flexible.
A major benefit of a fitness program is that it can increase our self-esteem. This is due in part to the connection between physical fitness and mental well-being. Our physical fitness improves and strengthens our muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other connective tissue, resulting in more mobility and better posture. Our minds therefore learn to adapt to the new demands placed on us when we begin a fitness routine, and our self-esteem grows accordingly.
Building greater muscular endurance, also called functional capacity is another result of regular fitness activities. Muscular endurance, in layman’s terms, is the ability of our muscles to endure a particular amount of “push-ups,” “weight lifting”, or “chopper” style exercises. As our muscles become more efficient at handling the exercises, our bodies automatically increase the amount of time (in minutes) they take to complete the task. This increased muscular endurance enables us to do more repetitions and sets of a given exercise, thus stimulating an increase in strength training.
Increases in muscle mass are another important result of regular fitness activity. Our bodies begin to change from our childhood years through our teenage years to the early years of our twenties. Our muscle mass increases due to hormonal changes associated with puberty, increased caloric intake, increased protein synthesis, and increased muscle strength. As we progress into our thirties and forties our body has stopped growing as rapidly as it did during our youth, but we retain our same level of muscle mass. If we are sedentary during this period we will likely see little to no change in our muscle mass.
Finally, another major benefit of a fitness program is that it helps increase our bone density. We all know that osteoporosis can cause major disfigurement and pain. Exercise increases our bone density and prevents further deterioration as we age. Strength training exercises improve our overall sense of well being. The end result of a strength-training exercise program adds years to your life.