A well thought out exercise program and proper nutrition equals being physically sound and healthy. Sounds simple enough, right? But how do I start? And what type of exercise program is really best for me, based on my age, body shape and size, abilities and time constraints? And how do I know if I’m making progress?
While that can be a lot to digest at once, the path to good fitness and health doesn’t have to be complicated and difficult to travel. With the proper guidance, exercise plan and the right equipment, anyone can find their own way to fitness and health.
First, there’s one key point we’d like to make – the difference between “physical activity” and “exercise.” Physical activity is simply any movement that uses energy. Walking up stairs, lifting boxes, folding laundry are all movements that use energy and involve different parts of the body.
Exercise is defined as “physical activity that is structured and done at a specific intensity for a length of time.” We engage in exercise for fitness and health benefits, to improve some components of our physical well-being – cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength or endurance, flexibility, body composition, etc.
A proper exercise program combines aerobic activity and strength training with stretching. The American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control recommend 30-40 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise for 30-40 minutes most days, combined with 2 days of resistance/strength training per week.
A fitness program that includes regular exercise and increased physical activity, can add years to your life and life to your years. But proper exercise is most important to fitness and health and a well-balanced body. Many people are looking specifically at changing their eating habits to lose weight and get in shape, but that’s only half the battle. In order to get the maximum benefits from a healthier diet, an exercise program needs to be developed and followed as well.
Some of the benefits of both Aerobic and Strength exercise include:
– Increases the level of oxygen to the lungs and bloodstream.
– Improved fitness and health with decreased blood pressure.
– Increases immunity to disease, by circulating and draining the fluids in the lymphatic system.
– Lessens our body’s fat stores because they are being used to fuel our activity level.
– Strengthens and builds up the heart muscle and our bones.
– Improves the endurance level of the cardiovascular system.
– Helps to detoxify the skin due to the promotion of sweating.
– Conditions the lungs so they’re better able to handle everyday activity.
– Improves the flexibility and strength of muscles throughout the body.
– Decreases the risk for developing heart disease.
– May help with the alleviation of stress and improve our overall mood.
– Increases our body’s bone density and strength.
– Helps to develop tendon and ligament strength.
– Helps to intensify our body’s fat weight loss process.
– Increases the body’s metabolism and overall fitness and health.
– Boosts our body’s stamina, energy and endurance.
– Helps increase the body’s coordination and balance.
– Gives our body greater muscle strength, tone and firmness.
As you can see, an exercise program is good for your overall fitness and health in so many ways. And if you’re trying to lose weight, exercise raises your metabolism, which allows your body to burn fat instead of storing it. If the activity level is maintained, this will help you keep your weight under control. Getting in at least some form of exercise every day is an important part of everyone’s path to fitness and health, and your well-being.