When most people think of fitness they tend to associate it with running on a treadmill or some other monotonous activity. This type of exercise does provide excellent cardiovascular aerobic conditioning but it is not without its drawbacks. Many of those who are unfamiliar with the concepts of fitness may unknowingly be doing more harm than good to their bodies in the long run.
The concept of fitness can best be understood by understanding what it is not. Fitness is defined as physical activity of moderate to high intensity, which relies primarily on anaerobic energy-producing mechanisms rather than an aerobic system. Aerobic exercise refers to “relating directly to, involving, or creating free oxygen” and is used to specifically meet energy requirements during exercise. The purpose of this definition is to simplify the field of physical conditioning and provide a clear roadmap for physical fitness.
Fitness can also be broken down into endurance and resistance. While cardio exercises focus on heart and lung function through the improvement of heart rate and cardiac output, endurance activities increase heart output but require more oxygen to do so. Fitness activities are all about using your body’s natural ability to adapt to changing activity levels by changing the makeup of the muscles. This allows the individual to engage in the activity for longer periods of time with less effort than they would if the activity was performed at a higher level of intensity.
Most individuals are familiar with traditional forms of cardiovascular exercise like running or biking. Cardiovascular exercise does wonders for your cardiovascular system and is an ideal way to improve overall health. However, most people don’t realize that performing cardio exercise regularly can do more harm than good. It is important to understand the difference between cardiovascular exercise and fitness activities so that you can get the maximum benefit from your time spent exercising.
While training for a marathon is not advisable, aerobics classes or dance may be just what the doctor ordered. While fitness is important, aerobics help lower your stress levels, which is great for overall health and fitness. Aerobic exercise is a great way to improve your mood and reduce your depression symptoms. Learning how to do yoga is another positive change you can make in your life. Yoga increases your flexibility and aids in stress reduction, while helping you maintain an optimal body weight.
Working out at a gym or other physical activity will boost your heart rate, improve your metabolism, burn calories, and increase your energy levels. Physical fitness should be incorporated into your life, but it is important to take care of your mind and body by keeping them fit and well hydrated. You will thank yourself when you are able to work your entire body and not just your “working muscles”.