Physical fitness has really skyrocketed within the last decade. There are greater numbers of individuals performing various activities in attempts to enhance physical appearance, athletic performance, 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 dysfunctioning, 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.
So with all the enthusiasm that surrounds us in the media, and especially the gym, I can honestly say that Fitness is for Everyone!
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 while they supply varying 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 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 additional calories to fuel this reparation process.
“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 activity 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 person’s face when they’re suffering from some sort of mental turmoil; their weightloss 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 gluttoning on pleasureful tasting [junk] foods. So even though they’re burning calories while being 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, basically, they 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 cooldowns 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!
Benefits of Fitness
Those who partake in an active lifestyle develop a greater number of benefits than initially expected. 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. The fascinating fact about activity participation is that it produces a positive psycho-physiological chain-reaction influencing the entire being.
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 a relatively simple one to apply. All one has to do is perform an adequate amount of activity–without overdoing it–and eat correctly; mother nature takes it from there. Since muscles are metabolically active, while fat is inert, those who are more physically fit and stronger muscle tone are those who develop higher metabolic rates turning their bodies into fat-burning machines.
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. And with our nervous system headquartered in our brain, this intricate system relays electrical mental impulses messengering this data to various body tissues. 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. Dullened reactions could lead to a hazardous situation, ill-fate may be inevitable if your not coordinated.
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 a network of muscles and their relative tissues (i.e., tendons and ligaments). Weakened muscles cannot hold our skeleton (our boney network) in proper alignment as the body shifts out of its natural position. If we had no muscles at all our skeleton would fall right to the floor. So as our muscles strengthen with activity the better our bodies will be held together.
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.
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 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.
Looks? Certainly! When you become active the benefits don’t stop below your chin. Your face receives a tremendous number of benefits as well. Since sedentary muscles become weak and sag, facial muscles are no different. When your body muscles are strong and firm, your facial muscles often follow the same pattern of progression. While you exercising you’ll notice that your facial muscles acquire a great workout–take a snap shot and show that around the disco. 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. Always maintain an active lifestyle. If you’ve reached your goals, be glorified with your accomplishments then shift over to a maintenance mode or set new challenges; but don’t ever quit.