Physical fitness has skyrocketed within the last decade. There are greater numbers of individuals performing various activities in attempts to enhance physical appearances, athletic performances, psychological states of well-being, and the overall quality of life. Clinicians of all sorts, athletic trainers, physical therapists and body sculpturing specialists are prescribing the fitness lifestyle as the remedy for obesity, muscular weakness, stress, fatigue, insomnia, hypertension, immune system dysfunction, headaches, joint ailments, depression, metabolic disorders, skeletal imbalances, poor circulation, and many others. These professionals have become aware of the benefits an active life grants its applicants.
I believe we have solidly entered a time which fully accepts that physical fitness, in one form or another, should become a part of everyone’s life. If I were saying this a decade ago, I’d have carry out all the malarkey of selling you on fitness and convince you that this is the lifestyle you must commit. Heck, who would of ever thought that fitness would become the “vogue” thing to do.
Physical fitness then has attained an indestructible reputation which continues to grow day-by-day. Everybody benefits from being more active and eating well. It was once thought that exercise and other physical fitness activities were only for those who had athletic aspirations. Observances of these striving individuals (the athletes) often left envious impressions with the manner in which they challenged and performed stressful tasks. With a daily dosage of fitness activities in their lives, athletes have trained themselves to become stronger, better fit members of our society. Many may think the athlete is a breed apart, but these individuals are self-made enthusiasts–they’re human just like anybody else.
In that regard, every human being has a muscular system, a heart with a circulatory system, a set of lungs, a family of organs, a skeleton, and a network of nerves connected to a brain. Athletes are not the only humans who possess these anatomical pieces of apparatus. But to acquire better levels of fitness for these bodily components you must receive regular forms of stimulation by way of fitness activities and nutritional support. So with this in mind, I can honestly admit that “FITNESS IS FOR EVERYONE!”
Inactivity: The Side Effects
Inactivity prevents the body from eliminating much of the toxic materials it accumulates. Here’s an example I use in my seminars to stress this point: If an automobile engine has a poor exhaust system this vehicle will eventually experience problems in starting, will accelerate erratically, may stall on occasion, or may not even start at all. All of these problems are a direct result from poor engine by-product elimination. This vehicle cannot release the waste it tries to reject which congests normal operations.
The body functions in a similar manner. If waste products are not eliminated, the body will become clogged and experience any number of unpleasant effects. What is not eliminated will be trapped and/or stored inside the body leading to many disturbing circumstances.
Poor nutritional habits are described as the intake of excess calories from any food sources including liquids, and/or consuming the wrong food products [i.e., junk food]. Combined with inactivity, these are the villains responsible for much of the obesity and ill-health in our societies. Those who become victimized by society’s ways of eating, drinking and spending leisure time are those most likely to acquire these unpleasant states of health. The problem with consistent inactivity is that it deregulates the mind and body into a sedentary pattern–one simply becomes lazy.
Being over fat does not end at just a skin-deep problem–it goes a whole lot deeper than that. Many may feel fatness only creates the embarrassments of having an unpleasant physical appearance, as loss of the body’s shape is the most visible. Fat can accumulate in all areas of the body surrounding and entwining itself to the muscles, the nerves and the organs (including the heart and lungs). The more excess fat one retains, the more of a burden their life-essential organs have to struggle with day in and day out.
Solving the Fat Problem
Every physical and psychological function requires energy. If we had no energy we simply could not exist. We obtain our energy from the foods we consume that also pertains to liquid calories like milk, juices, sodas, alcohol, coffees, etc.. We also receive a great deal of energy from the air we breathe, but for now let’s just concentrate on foods, as we obviously do not get overweight from consuming air.
All forms of food, in any amount, supply various levels of energy. Food energy is calculated in measurements known as Calories. When we eat we supply our bodies with caloric sources of energy. We then release this energy by: 1) Moving; all physical activities, 2) Thinking; all psychological functions, and by, 3) Metabolism; the operational and recuperative functions of the body. Of these three, Moving, “physical activities”, requires the greatest supply of energy to conduct its chores. Metabolism, on the other hand, burns plenty of calories after the body has been stimulated with intense activity relying on stored calories to fuel this reparation process. When we are inactive we do not release much energy, and certainly, our metabolisms enjoy vacation time as well.
“Thinking” is also an energy burner. Our minds require energy to operate, but those who are experiencing the effects of being overweight cannot merely rely on this source for ample caloric elimination. People who are depressed, angry, bitter, and easily agitated, burn a tremendous amount of energy. Most of the time you can see it in a persons face if they’ve been suffering from some sort of mental turmoil; their weight loss manifests itself by shrunken cheeks–among other areas. There are those however, who while imprisoned by these negative psychological thoughts try to combat, and/or alleviate, their negative emotions by gorging on pleasureful tasting [junk] foods. So even though they’re burning calories while they’re stressing-out, the amounts of foods they are forcing down their throats simply overloads their systems.
[We need to keep a clear understanding that food is fuel and fuel is energy in the form of calories. So whenever I’m talking about food, fuel, energy, or calories, they–basically–all mean the same].
Each of us have a specific rate of metabolism which converts food into energy for activity, the operational functions of life, and the repairing of damaged tissue. This conversion/reparation process is always operating whether we’re active or sedentary. The goal then of the athlete and fitness enthusiast is to periodically expend the effort to exercise then allocate ample time to recuperate. This cyclic process allows us to burn more calories both during exercise and metabolic periods. So those who believe the fat-burning, strength-building, health-promoting benefits of fitness are confined to the actual times they are exercising are in for a big surprise! The benefits of exercise extend well beyond cool downs as metabolism takes the baton and runs its operation of repair that is fueled by calories. In other words, we can lose fat while we’re doing nothing at all; that’s sensational!
Fat: Why do we accumulate so much?
The main reason why people get fat is due to the fact that their energy intake (food consumption) exceeds their energy release; levels of activity and rates of metabolism. So to eliminate body fat you can simply do one of two things, or both: 1) Lower your calories to meet the level of your daily activities, and/or, 2) Increase your activities to meet your caloric intake–it’s just that simple.
So here’s what I’m suggesting: Either you reduce your calories to the actual needs of your expenditures, no more, or you simply increase your activity to burn up more fuel. My first suggestion might be impractical; tradition has proved this since this is a form of caloric deprivation and not many are good [or successful] at that. My second suggestion ignores the calorie-depriving lifestyle however now you must get that butt into gear shaking it more often to burn the calories you’re consuming.
Are these suggestions practical? Regarding the first, most of you might be saying, “Not in this lifetime pal”. But for my second, which doesn’t force you to cut down on food, just up your activity, you might now be saying, “Yeah, that sounds like the plan for me!”
What Are My Choices
Inconvenience is a major reason why most people do not become involved in fitness. Their idea of a fitness regimen might only be associated with joining a health club or becoming a member on some team. If a facility or team organization is not conveniently or economically accessable, let your worries cease as there are numerous members of the physical fitness family which can be conducted in and around your home or office that are fun and rewarding. Never fear, I’ll come up with something; read on!
Let’s start with Walking. Walking is the easiest, safest, and most convenient activity. As a total body conditioner and fat eliminator, walking has developed a great reputation that is being pursued by millions. This form of exercise is available to everyone no matter which geographical location they live in as your neighborhood can be mapped into a number of courses.
While walking make sure you do so with dominance. Don’t slouch your shoulders or drag your feet. Pump your arms and pivot at the waist. Hold your chest high and pull your shoulders back. Walk as if you’re in an airport and you’re rushing to catch your flight–get the idea?
Start off with a comfortable pace. As time progresses so will your levels of fitness. As you get in better condition brisker paces and longer distances/times can be endured and you’ll noticed some of your excess bodyfat will be reducing
An effective walking program might start off by walking 10 minutes; 5 minutes away from your beginning point then 5 minutes to return. Every other walking session add 2 minutes onto your previous time until you are walking a maximum of 45 – 60 minutes. If you cannot endure a full hour of brisk walking, try “intervals”. Start your walk at a normal pace (this will loosen and warm-up the muscles) then after 5 minutes have expired, really pour it on and walk as briskly as you can for 3-5 minutes. Repeat this interval until you have completed your scheduled time.
Jogging is another great activity. This form of exercise is, in many ways, considered a super-fast walk or a slow run. Many enthusiasts preface their jogging with a walking program, then accelerate to jogging once they’ve conditioned themselves and feel confidant. Unlike walking, jogging requires more vigorous body actions and places much more shock [or impact] to the body.
Wear only the best of shoes and conduct your workouts on soft flat surfaces like grass, rubberized tracks, etc.. I discourage those from jogging who have any ailments to their mid-to-lower backs, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. If you want to take your chances, proceeding with caution, it’s a good idea to incorporate a walk-jog interval instead of trying to jog your entire workout time. This will reduce a lot of impact and stress to your body joints while completing the duration you need for optimum fitness.
Walk/jog intervals can be conducted like the casual/briskly paced walking intervals now starting with a walk for 5 minutes then graduating to a jog for any period of time you feel comfortable. Once you feel the slightest signs of stress, stop your jog down-shifting to a brisk walk. Stay with your brisk walk until you gather enough energy and confidence, then up-shift to a higher gear and jog away.
It’s freezing out there!
Inevitably, your walking or jogging course will be covered by rain or snow, or your thermostat is reading a temperature better suited for a polar bear, not humans. Additionally, you may arrive home late from work or school and feel it’s too chancy to challenge the dark. For these reasons, and others of inconvenience, treadmills have become popular remedies. This at-home any-time piece of apparatus can prove to be a health-saver as your consistant patterns of activity will not have to be interupted while you’re waiting for the rain to stop.
Anything I can do seated?
Like the treadmill, stationary bicycles are quickly becoming a fixture in many homes. How many exercises can you think of that allows you to read, watch TV, listen to music, or talk on the phone, all in a seated position?
Stationary biking is great. It strengthens the lower body muscles and can burn extra calories (bodyfat) quite effectively. The duration’s for good biking workouts are similar to walking or jogging. If you have a speedometer on your bike try to maintain a pace of 20 to 25 mph. This pace will allow you to cover 5 miles in 15 minutes or 10 miles in 30 minutes. If one continuous pace cannot be endured, try “interval peddling”. Start your activity with a 3 minute normal pace, then speed things up for 1-2 minutes. Repeat these intervals throughout the entire duration of the activity.
If you like the outdoors, and the weather permits, please don’t hesitate to get out that old two-wheeler and bike outside. The passing scenery will make your activity much more enjoyable, and it may add some minutes to your total workout time. Just ride around the neighborhood. If you’d like to map out some courses, do so with specific challenges in mind like uphill climbs, flat unobstructed stretches for sprinting, or the scenic route to warm-up or cool-down. I instruct my students to avoid heavy traffic. The pollution is detrimental to your health while the obstructions can be dangerous.
As a word of caution, men are at a higher health risk while cycling than women, for obvious genital reasons. If you have any history of prostate problems or circulatory dysfunction’s to the testicles or penis, I warn you that cycling can compound these problems, or create them. Here’s my remedy (trying to keep my own jewels precious as well); rotate various activities during one workout. Instead of just biking for your entire workout time, incorporate walking, jogging, or weight training activities that get off your behind. Also, regardless of your peddling time, place some extra cushioning over that bike seat. Try these remedies and you’ll maintain that masculine deep voice.
Bring on the tunes!
Do you like dancing? I think everybody has that hidden aspiration in them of performing on stage like Fred Astaire or MC Hammer, they just won’t admit to it. Once you find out how much fun it is, and discover the many benefits you’ll receive, dancing may soon be on the top of your list.
Dancing is a recreational activity that is entertaining as well as good for you. The musical rhythms are refreshing and motivational stimulating moods of energy and constructively aggressive behavior. Dancing enhances muscular coordination, stimulates the heart, and helps shed excess pounds and inches from head to toe.
Your dance time can be spent alone (for those closet entertainers), or with someone special who can also enjoy the benefits. Groups are fun too. Join a class, or invite several friends over for a workout party–bet you never thought working-out and partying could be synonymous. Select the tunes that get you into the moods which best make your body bend, bob, wiggle, twist and shuffle. Alone or with others, dancing is a terrific activity.
Have a dog? If you do remember they also need exercise. Most dogs love to play. Take them out for a walk or jog keeping ahold of their leach as they parallel you through your workout. Most of the time you’ll be asking, “Who’s really doing the working out here?”. You can also try going someplace where you can throw a ball or sticks for your pet to retrieve. You might feel like Joe Montana as throwing objects will enable you to exercise additional muscles that are not directly stressed in the aforementioned activities. So use your pet as your activity motivator, or better yet, your pace setter, this is not an illegal practice.
Kids? Almost everything associated with them spells energy, fun, and a stress-free life. Children have abundant supplies of energy and enthusiasm adults envy. Those of you who have children have the greatest opportunity to act and feel years younger. Remember when you were a child? Most of you enjoyed a problem-free all-fun-and-games lifestyle. Why not take your children to a local park and involve yourselves in some games or other recreational activities. Becoming actively involved with youngsters keeps you in touch with the priceless qualities of youth. Plus getting them to exercise with you is truly a gem of family bonding. For the time you can share with them, drop all the stress, negative emotions, and unnecessary chores, and make the best of these times–it’s for everyone’s advantage.
Selecting Your Own Fat Burning Activities
Below, I’ve listed a number of activities which comprise the frame-work of physical fitness. You’ll notice that many of them are accesssible to you every day.
(2 or more)
The Activity Selection List will provide you with a number of activities from which you can choose on a day-to-day basis. Make a personal list for yourself and select the ones which are convenient, fun and beneficial. To prevent boredom, try rotating several activities throughout the course of each week.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Variety is the spice of life?” This statement can pertain to your quest for fat-reduction and better health. So spice up your life with a variety of activities and your mind and body will respond most rewardingly.
The Close Encounter
How many times have you seen people driving around in circles, impatiently searching for the closest opening to the store entrance? Are you a guilty one? When you drive to the local store, park your car at a distant stall, no matter how far away it may be. If you’re really ambitious, return that shopping cart to the store instead of leaving it next to that Porche; are you guilty again? Having to walk a little further (weather permitting) can help burn extra calories, so take advantage of it.
Also, whenever possible, use stairs instead of elevators or escalators; most malls and department stores have them. I don’t need to convince you that stair climbing will burn more calories. But I will inform you that your legs, hips and buttocks will start looking remarkably better if you climb stairs regularly. To increase the intensity, try climbing stairs two steps at-a-time instead of one-at-a-time. To get really radical, drive over to the local sports stadium and walk up and down the bleachers. Ten to twenty minutes of this activity is an excellent workout.
I realize there’s plenty of household chores you complain are a burden of life. These are the “must do’s” that most of you hate. Well let’s begin “attitude adjustment” time; What if we call these tasks power-garden planting, power-lawn mowing, or power-garage cleaning. How about power-vacuuming, or power-mopping. Have you ever approached your household chores like cool-hand Luke? If you can’t get to the gym, pretend your house is a gym. What difference is it when you do arm circles during a body limbering class compared to the motions you use to wash windows? Okay, maybe I’m bending reality a bit, but for good reasons. Daily activities, normal or unusual, can be used successfully to enhance health. So why not kill “two birds with one stone” and pursue your household activities with enthusiasm and vigor. Seeing that you have to eventually do them anyway, do them with a positive outlook that can be of benefit to your health. Now that’s efficiency!
The Human Pace
Don’t ever feel obligated to perform activities on the levels of others, especially if they’re in better condition and have been at it for some time. But once you’ve completed a throughout conditioning period, you can start becoming more aggressive and competitive, and take on tougher challenges.
Here’s an example of the typical adjustment period most humans experience with new tasks: Remember that first day on your job, when the boss was showing you all the duties you were now being paid to perform? You thought to yourself, “BOY, how am I ever going to remember all of this stuff?” You looked around and observed other employees performing the same tasks, and they were doing them very easily and without much concentration. You may have felt a little embarrassed, intimidated, or envious, but after a short time you could perform your job just as well as the others, you adjusted!
No matter what the activity is you must allow yourself a conditioning period that educates you to the task/s at hand. Give yourself adequate time to make sense of the information you’re gathering regarding the technicalities of your activities. Allow time to mentally sort this data then communicate your newly acquired knowledge into coordination patterns of body movements. After time, your performances will become “second-nature”.
So don’t take a blind plunge into fitness. Start off with a comfortable pace and progress from there. Push yourself to fatigue and no further. Remember what you have done, and as time progresses, you will be surpassing previous establishments. And always check with a health authority to get the okay to proceed.
More Benefits of Fitness
Those who partake in an active lifestyle develop a greater number of benefits than they may realize. Even though their intentions may be to reshape their bodies and lose some excess bodyfat, fitness will not confine itself to just these two benefits alone. The fascinating facts about activity participation is that it produces a chain-reaction that influences the entire mind and body. Since physical fitness can then be classified as a prime contributing factor for the promotion of excellent health, daily dosages of this stuff are prescribed.
Many individuals engaged in physical fitness for the sole purpose of increasing their levels of energy. The process of energy enhancement is scientifically complex, but simple a relatively simple one to apply. All one has to do is perform an adequate amount of activity and eat correctly; mother nature will take it from there. Since muscles are metabolically active, while fat is inert, those who are more physically fit and possess stronger muscles are those who develop higher metabolic rates which turning their bodies into fat-burning engines.
The Mind & Nerves
The relationship between fitness and knowledge blends nicely especially when one understands how their own body performs under various conditions. Consistent participation in activities develops a harmonious communication between the mind and body. Our nervous system has its headquarters in our brain. This intricate system relays electrical impulses generated from within the brain messengering this data to various tissues of the body. When an action is requested or required, the brain will consent to the demand and command an immediate impulse. For those who are unfit, the deliverance of such commands have no assurance for accurate delivery or may become delayed by weak mental signal-sending abilities. When a dullened reaction occurs during a hazardous situation, ill-fate may be inevitable. For example; If one has to quickly slam on the brakes to avoid an accident in traffic, or catch themselves while slipping on ice, dullened impulses may arrive too late for one to safely react.
Thinking makes us smarter, and activities get us thinking. When we’re having fun performing our activities, we are happily thinking, and developing higher levels of fitness at the same time. The better fit we are the better we can think and concentrate.
Muscles & Bones
Our bodies are literally held together by muscles and their relative tissues (i.e., the tendons and ligaments). Weakened muscles create skeletal malalignment as the body shifts out of its natural positions and sag. If we had no muscles at all our skeleton (bones) would fall right to the floor. So as our muscles strengthen with activity the better our bodies will be held together. Many wonder how their muscles strengthen with exercise. Here’s a lay explanation that offers a quick understanding: If you lift 10 lbs per day, your body will develop a tolerance to this resistance and adjust. If you’re persistent at maintaining that work load, your mind will reset your strength set-points to adapt, and develop the capacity for you to continue lifting this 10 lbs consistently. Now if you decide to increase to 15 Ibs, your muscles will undergo the same transition over time and develop the necessary strength to accommodate [and dominate] this new stress. This not only pertains to strength development but holds true for endurance as well; another impressive muscular characteristic. Whether it’s walking, jogging, biking, swimming, weight lifting, tennis or dancing, the body will adjust itself to accommodate to the muscular stresses it knows it will endure levitating your fitness levels.
You’re aware that the heart is a muscle? It is! In fact, the heart is a muscular pump responsible for the distribution of blood to all areas of the body. When we are involved in activity, our hearts beat at accelerated rates.
This acceleration stimulates strength benefits to the heart similar to other muscles.
Medical and health authorities are now prescribing fitness as a preventive measure for a number of cardiovascular disorders (i.e.. high and low blood pressure, poor circulation, arteriosclerosis and others). Arteriosclerosis is a state in which fat, and other toxic wastes, accumulate and cling to the inner walls of the blood vessels clogging normal circulatory paths. When circulation obstructions become prevalent, blood cannot effectively be delivered to areas beyond these points of interferences which can lead to some debilitating circumstances. To avoid this, one must pursue a more active lifestyle while eliminating all of the harmful foods that are responsible for this problem.
During fitness activities, when the heart is in its accelerated state, a vessel cleansing action is being conducted, removing excessive accumulations of fats, and other waste products, from our circulatory system. Here’s an example: Have you ever turned on a garden hose after a winter storage? Or, have you ever tried to get a glass of water from a faucet that has been unused for quite some time? What happens? Rust and other gookey looking materials cough out. Due to inactivity and use, a buildup of waste accumulates and coats the inner lining of the hose and faucet as there’s no regular flushing or cleansing. The same is true with the blood vessels. Waste can build up inside the body (much like the waste in the hose or faucet) having no means for elimination. Once the heart pumps at accelerated rates, to force blood through the ciculatory pathways, the inner walls of these vessels receive their cleansing and are kept clean.
We already know that the heart beats faster while we are active—so does our rate of breathing. Oxygen is our life-supporting gas which we cannot do without for very long. We can go without food or water for days, but without oxygen we can’t last more than a few minutes. As our respiration (breathing rate) increases, our lungs expand and contract beyond normal [or resting] capacities. The lungs are two elastic-like sacks which collect the air we breathe. As we inhale, the lungs absorb the usable oxygen, then as we exhale, eliminates toxic gases. Millions of tiny holes called alveoli allow the oxygen to seep into our bloodstream feeding the body with this most precious life source.
We know our muscles produce heat in the form of energy when they are active, and heat, like the flame on a candle, cannot survive without oxygen. The better conditioned our lungs are, the better they intake and deliver oxygen to our muscles increasing our energy capacities to work. The deliverance of oxygen to the muscles is like squirting lighter fluid on an open flame. The more oxygen we can supply to our tissues, the better we perform mentally and physically.
Looks? Certainly! When you become active the benefits don’t stop below your chin. Your face receives a tremendous number of benefits as well. I previously mentioned that sedentary muscles become weak and sag, well facial muscles are no different. When your body muscles are strong and firm, your facial muscles often follow the same pattern of progression. So while you exercising your facial muscles also acquire a great workout. To prove my point, try looking someone straight in the face while they’re running or lifting weights. They don’t look very appealing while they’re in a state of exertion. But as their faces contort during their energy releasing periods of exercise, their facial tissues are toning and firming themselves at the same time.
Every once-in-a-while I’m asked, “John, when I reach my goals, can I quit?” Or, “If I quit, will I get fat again?”
I promote fitness as a lifestyle, not a short-term plan. A way-of-life that enhances each of your days for the rest of your life. To be perfectly honest, once goals have been accomplished, new ones should be set—don’t quit. And, if you do quit, keep in mind that you may transform back to the mess you where in when you began. I’ll explain; Remember I talked about muscular strength? I stated that muscles get stronger when they are regularly stimulated with activity. If you’re lifting 10 lbs your body will adjust and eventually become capable of lifting that weight, plus more with persistency. Your mind recognizes these stresses and provides you with the ability to develop the required strength–you adapt. If you quit, you don’t perform these tasks any longer, and your body no longer needs to maintain the muscle strength and stamina required for your active lifestyle. In other words, your body will weaken, or readapt, to the new [reduced] levels of your activity. Here’s another way of putting it: While driving your automobile if you push the accelerator down hard and long enough the car’s speed will eventually reach (or exceed) 65 mph. Once you release your foot off the gas pedal (either partially or completely), your speed will reduce accordingly. Since your car engine is not receiving that “push” it once received to get up to and maintain that speed of 65 mph, it also cannot maintain its momentum and will slow down, if not eventually stop. The body will react in a similar manner. Once you reduce your activities you will be eliminating that “push” your body needs to maintain its elevated levels of progress.
Always maintain an active life. If you’ve reached your goals, be glorified with your accomplishments then shift over to a maintenance mode, but don’t ever quit. If you’re just bored with your activities, refer to your “Activity Selection List” and choose others which interests and challenges you.