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Physical Fitness: A Guide To Healthy Life

Physical Fitness

Physical fitness or physical exercises are a set of workouts that develops your strength, endurance, flexibility, balance and improve your overall health. A physically fit person can perform daily activities easily without fatigue. To achieve physical fitness you require proper nutrition and a moderate workout that contains either aerobic or anabolic exercises or both.

It’s recommended by the United States Department Of Health And Human Services to engage in physical activities that contribute to improving your both mental and physical health. These activities are generally cardio, yoga, weight training, etc. Following a good fitness program improves all aspects of your health.

Components Of Physical Fitness

Physical fitness is divided into five main components, let’s learn about them in-depth.

1. Flexibility

Flexibility is the maximum range of motion of your joints, ligaments, and tendons. It is an important aspect of physical fitness as it helps in doing any bodily movement smoothly. Flexibility also reduces the risk of injuries and also improves your posture.

During physical activity, the lack of stretching can cause fatigue and shortening of tissue. Inflexible muscles get tired more quickly which puts more stress on opposing muscle groups. Muscle inflexibility and fatigue can cause injuries to your joints which affects your overall health.

Adding a daily stretching routine to your lifestyle is one of the best practices to improve your flexibility and keep your muscles and joints healthy. A daily stretching routine not only increases your range of motion but also improves muscle coordination, blood circulation and is a great warm-up to your muscles before a workout.

Three famous stretches that improve your flexibility are listed below.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretches refer to the ability of your joints and muscles to go through a full range of motion. This type of stretch is used in warm-up exercises to prepare your muscles before physical activity.

Dynamic stretching is also classified as a functional movement that mimics the motion of the activity that you’re going to perform. For example, athletes bend their knees to stretch their legs, boxers do wrist rotations and shoulder stretching before an event.

Active Stretching

Active stretching refers to the method of holding your body parts in a stretched position for a short period. This type of stretching helps in increasing the range of motion of your joints and muscles.

This type of stretching is also referred to as static active stretching because the body part is stretched for a certain amount of time at the end position. Also, you stretch the targeted body part without any strap or band.

Yoga is the perfect example of active stretching. During this form of fitness, you’re required to hold a pose using your muscular strength while stretching your other muscles.

Ballistic Stretching

Ballistic stretching is an advanced form of stretching that is popular among athletes. This method of stretching is advised to be performed when your body is already warmed up. Ballistic stretching involves faster and further movement of your muscles than other types of stretching.

Dynamic stretching also involves movement during the stretching of your muscles but is different from ballistic stretching

Ballistic stretching push your muscles further their range of motion with faster motion. Medical professionals recommend dynamic stretching over ballistic stretching as it has a minimum risk of injuries.

Muscular Strength

Muscular strength refers to the ability of your body to lift and move objects in a direction. Strength can be measured by the maximum weight you can lift or the amount of force you can exert on an object. Some examples of exercises that help in building muscular strength are resistance training, weight lifting, and doing cardio like running, jumping, cycling, etc.

Generally, Anything that requires your muscles to work helps in improving your muscular strength. For example, lifting a heavy object requires work from the muscles in your arms, therefore, putting tension and developing strength.

Developing your strength is important as it allows you to perform the activities and movements that require force without fatigue. Building good muscular strength helps you in maintaining your body weight, makes you strong, lowers the risk of chronic diseases, boosts energy levels, improves your mood and sleep.

There are many strength tests that you can perform to measure your muscular strength. In general, doing some weight lifting and comparing the results against a given population of people is the best way to measure someone’s strength.

Resistance Tests

This is one of the most commonly used tests to measure one’s strength. Resistance tests check the maximum weight that an athlete can lift using only one repetition. During this test, people use either external weights or bodyweight to measure someone’s strength. Using either or both of these methods gives accurate results.

Isotonic Tests

The term isotonic means tensile strength or torque. This term is used in weight lifting exercises to test the continuous strength of your muscles before getting tired. Isotonic movement is also called dynamic muscular contraction. The device that measures this force is known as a dynamometer.

Isokinetic Tests

The word isokinetic can be divided into two parts iso meaning same and kinetic meaning movement. This type of strength test uses special equipment to control the speed of your movement regardless of the force applied. The machine used during this test controls the speed of the exercise by changing the resistance at your range of motion.

Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance is the ability of your muscles to work consistently for a certain period without fatigue. Developing your muscular endurance doesn’t help in increasing the size of your muscles but is necessary for athletic and functional activities. Muscular endurance is also required to do daily activities more easily. For example climbing stairs, walking, carrying groceries, etc.

During endurance training, the main focus is on your cardiovascular system than on the strength of your muscles. Muscular endurance improves the blood flow to your muscles which they need for consistent functioning.

Another reason for performing endurance training is to develop your fast and slow-twitch muscles.

Fast Twitch Muscles

Fast-twitch muscles get tired quickly but deliver maximum power in that time. This type of muscle fibers consume a lot of energy and are great for activities that use quick bursts of energy like sprinting, jumping, powerlifting, strength training, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Unlike slow-twitch muscles, fast-twitch muscles have very few blood vessels as they don’t require blood and oxygen to perform quick intense activities. Only glucose is required as a source of energy to support fast-twitch muscles.

Slow Twitch Muscles

Slow-twitch muscle fibers are used for endurance or for activities that require good stamina. Generally, your body first uses slow-twitch muscle to power your fast-twitch muscles. In this type of muscle fiber, energy is used slowly to perform activities for a longer duration without getting tired.

Slow-twitch muscles are great for delivering power in low-intensity activities as a steady supply of energy is required. For example brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and yoga.

Muscle groups with more slow-twitch muscle fibers have more blood vessels. Unlike fast-twitch muscles, more blood vessels are required to supply oxygen-rich blood to the muscles. This is because of the endurance capability of slow-twitch muscles.

Cardiorespiratory Endurance

Cardiorespiratory endurance is defined by how long your cardiovascular and respiratory work together before fatigue. In general, it measures how long your body can supply fuel to your muscles, lunges, and heart. Cardiorespiratory endurance shows how efficiently your cardiovascular and respiratory system works. It also helps in measuring your physical fitness and overall health.

Developing your cardiorespiratory endurance has a positive effect on your daily life. You can do daily activities more easily, play sports, and exercise for a longer duration without getting tired.

Cardiorespiratory endurance can be developed by doing activities that increase your heart rate for a given period. These activities include jogging, swimming, cycling, strength training, weight lifting, etc. It is recommended to start these activities slowly and increase the intensity over time.

When you exercise your muscles require more blood and oxygen which increases the capacity of your lungs and heart, therefore, making them more efficient and stronger. Improving your cardiorespiratory endurance also helps in reducing the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, and blood pressure.

Body Composition

Body composition is the ratio of fat and fat-free mass like bones, water, muscles, and organs. For a healthy body, a lower percentage of fat and a higher percentage of fat-free mass is required.

Checking your weight on a regular scale is not the right way to calculate your body composition. There are several methods for measuring your body composition. For example, caliper, bioelectrical impedance, hydrostatic weighing, and DEXA scan.

According to American Council On Exercise, people with a fat percentage of more than 25% (men), 32% (women) are obese. The general fat percentage for the overall population is 18% to 24% for men and 25% to 31% is for women. Athletes tend to have low-fat percentage from 6% to 18% for good performance in sports.

Having an extremely low-fat percentage can cause health issues like lower bone density, weak muscles, eating disorders, amenorrhea, etc.

Also, having a high-fat percentage makes you prone to heart diseases, anxiety, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.

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