Strength, cardiovascular endurance, balance, agility and flexibility should be the goals of any well-rounded fitness program. But how do you go about developing these skills? The key is variety. Don't spend all your time in the weight room or on the treadmill. Include different types of fitness training in your routine and you'll see better overall results in your exercise performance and how your body performs and feels in daily life.
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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.
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.
The US guidelines continue: For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
Physical fitness has proven to result in positive effects on the body's blood pressure because staying active and exercising regularly builds up a stronger heart. The heart is the main organ in charge of systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Engaging in a physical activity raises blood pressure. Once the subject stops the activity, the blood pressure returns to normal. The more physical activity that one engages in, the easier this process becomes, resulting in a more ‘fit’ individual. Through regular physical fitness, the heart does not have to work as hard to create a rise in blood pressure, which lowers the force on the arteries, and lowers the overall blood pressure.
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.
Many of the activities you do to build strength will also help your balance. Balance is partly a matter of developing your small stabilizer muscles that provide support and keep you steady. Free weight exercises, such as lunges and deadlifts, will help strengthen the stabilizer muscles. Even better, include some single-leg exercises, such as single-leg deadlifts and pistol squats, in your strength-training routine.