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.
Endurance is your ability to perform physical activity over time. You might be able to serve aces and hit winning forehands and backhands, but if your muscles cramp or you run out of energy after a few games, you won’t win any matches. You build endurance by exercising for longer periods without stopping, working at a slower speed than when you interval train. This type of exercise is usually aerobic, calling on your slow-twitch muscle fibers and burning more fat than glycogen, depending on the speed you work. The slower you work, the higher percentage of your calories burned comes from fat.
Eccentric training is another type of physical fitness training centered on improving eccentric muscle contraction. As a backgrounder, this type of muscle contraction occurs when the muscle elongates or lengthens from the influence of an opposing force. The contraction happens explicitly when a muscle gives in or goes with the flow or direction of an opposing force.
^ Osawa Y, Azuma K, Tabata S, Katsukawa F, Ishida H, Oguma Y, Kawai T, Itoh H, Okuda S, Matsumoto H (2014). "Effects of 16-week high-intensity interval training using upper and lower body ergometers on aerobic fitness and morphological changes in healthy men: a preliminary study". Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine. 5: 257–65. doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S68932. PMC 4226445. PMID 25395872.
Possibly one of the most important parts of fitness training is flexibility and mobility. Flexibility is the ability of your muscles to stretch, and mobility is being able to move your joints and tissues through their full range of motion. Both are important to athletic performance and for avoiding injury. Muscles and joints that are flexible and mobile — as well as strong — are much less susceptible to sprains and other injuries.
Developing research has demonstrated that many of the benefits of exercise are mediated through the role of skeletal muscle as an endocrine organ. That is, contracting muscles release multiple substances known as myokines, which promote the growth of new tissue, tissue repair, and various anti-inflammatory functions, which in turn reduce the risk of developing various inflammatory diseases.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans were created by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. This publication recommends that all adults should avoid inactivity to promote good health mentally and physically. For substantial health benefits, adults should participate in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
For physical fitness activity to benefit an individual, the exertion triggers a response called a stimulus. Exercise with the correct amount of intensity, duration, and frequency can produce a significant amount of improvement. The person may overall feel better, but the physical effects on the human body take weeks or months to notice and possibly years for full development. For training purposes, exercise must provide a stress or demand on either a function or tissue. To continue improvements, this demand must eventually increase little over an extended period of time. This sort of exercise training has three basic principles: overload, specificity, and progression. These principles are related to health but also enhancement of physical working capacity.
Fitness does not only refer to being physically fit, but also refers to a person’s mental state as well. If a person is physically fit, but mentally unwell or troubled, he or she will not be able to function optimally. Mental fitness can only be achieved if your body is functioning well. You can help relax your own mind and eliminate stresses by exercising regularly and eating right.
^ 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.
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.
New (July 2011) guidelines in the United Kingdom include the following points: The intensity at which we exercise is key, and light activity such as strolling and housework is unlikely to have much positive impact on the health of most people. For aerobic exercise to be beneficial it must raise your heartbeat and make you sweat. The more exercise you do, the better. Everyone should do a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise but that really is the minimum for health benefits. If you can go beyond 150 minutes, you’ll gain even more health benefits. Sedentary time (time spent sitting down to watch TV, use a computer, read or listen to music) is bad for your health, even for those who are achieving 150 minutes of exercise a week. These guidelines, are now much more in line with those used in the US, also include recommendations for muscle-building and bone strengthening activities such as lifting weights and yoga.