[FITNESS IS HEALTHY] -- 7 min read

Hello Warriors! We are continuing our series [BE HEALTHY]. Let’s jump in to this blog posts topic: [FITNESS IS HEALTHY]. As with all things “healthy”, there are more components to fitness than meets the eye. The way I am going to break fitness up for you today is into 5 main components: 

1. Cardiorespiratory Fitness    
2. Strength
3. Endurance
4. Body Composition
5. Flexibility 

Why so many components? Fitness is NOT just the way your body looks (aesthetically speaking), whether you can climb a staircase to the top of a building with ease, or how many reps you can dead lift. Those things are all results of fitness. So if those things are just results of fitness, what is fitness?

 According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, physical fitness is defined as "a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity."

With that definition in mind, let’s explore the first component of fitness: Cardio-respiratory Fitness.

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What is it?

Cardio-respiratory fitness refers to the ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to skeletal muscles during sustained physical activity. In other words, it indicates how well our heart and lungs work during physical activity. 

Why is it important?

Cardio-respiratory endurance strengthens the heart and lungs. The strengthening of the heart enables it to pump more blood per heartbeat which, in conjunction with the lungs, supplies oxygen-rich blood to the working muscles; It enhances the muscles ability to actively recover. Cardio-respiratory fitness is also important because it decreases risk factors for heart and circulatory diseases. 

How can you improve your cardio-respiratory fitness?

Aerobic exercise (any type of rhythmic, continuous activity that involves simultaneous use of multiple large muscle groups) can enhance cardio-respiratory fitness. Exercises such as running, jogging, brisk walking, cycling, and swimming are some examples of things you can do to improve your cardio-respiratory fitness today. 

Now on to our next component: Strength. 

What is strength? 

The US Department of Health and Human Services defines muscular strength as "the ability of muscle to exert force during an activity."

Why is it important?

If a muscle is worked consistently and regularly, it will eventually increase in strength. Strength training is important because the only way to really increase your metabolism is by increasing your muscle mass or challenging the muscle mass that you already have. 

How can you improve your strength?

Get your muscles moving! Resistance exercises that require your muscles to push, pull, or lift can help strengthen specific muscles. Common resistance exercises include: free weights, weight machines, resistance bands and your own body weight. 

Along with muscular strength comes Muscular Endurance.

What is endurance?

The ability of a muscle to continue exerting force without tiring.

Why is it important? 

Muscular endurance is critical to improving stamina and increasing the amount of time you can engage in an activity without growing tired. 

How can you build more muscular endurance today?

When thinking of how to train for muscular endurance, one thing comes to mind: cardio. Start implementing running, jogging, biking, swimming, and/or sprints in to your exercise routine to build muscular endurance. 

Let’s look at the fourth component of physical fitness: Body Composition. 

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What is Body Composition?

Body composition measures the relative amounts of muscle, bone, water and fat. Now, different types of people are going to have different body compositions but there is a general rule for what is considered healthy: between 15 and 20% for men, and between 20 and 25% for women. These are only rough estimates; some athletes are going to have even lower body fat percentage and that would still be considered healthy. I want to make it clear that I am NOT saying we all need to strive to have bodies free of fat. In fact, having some fat on our body is essential to our health. 

Why is it important?

Body composition is a good indicator of health. Having too little body fat (< 3% for men and < 13% for women) can lead to an assortment of problems. For example, it can lead to problems with the heart, shrinkage of internal organs, loss of muscle tissue, stomach problems, and damage to the nervous system. It can even lead to death. Having said that, too much body fat is dangerous to your health as well. If a woman has more than 32%, and man more than 25% body fat it poses a major health risk, so maintaining a healthy body composition lowers the risk of certain obesity-related diseases. 

How to test for body composition?

There are many ways to test for body composition, but I will only highlight 5 ways:

- DEXA Scan
- Whole Body Plethysmography (Bod Pod)
- Underwater/Hydrostatic Weighing
- Skinfold Calipers
- Bio-impedance 

Here is an article written by active.com that explains the ways to test for body composition better: http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/5-ways-to-test-your-body-composition
 

How to improve your body composition?

If you find yourself in the above your ideal body fat percentage, we have a couple tips for you on lowering your percentage. First, start cutting calories from your diet. Pair a healthy diet, made up of nutritious, unprocessed foods, including lots of lean protein, with strength training This will help you retain muscle tissue and improve your body composition as you lose weight. Muscle burns fat--Remember that. 

Last but not least, our final component: Flexibility.

What is flexibility? 

A person's flexibility refers to the ability of their joints to move through a full range of motion. There is a healthy range of motion for every exercise that changes depending on what you're doing. 

Why is it important? 

Good flexibility helps prevent injury. It also leads to increased performance, better posture, less muscle tension and soreness, increases coordination and increases blood flow to the joints. These are just a few things that good flexibility can do, the benefits are so much more! 

How to become more flexible? 

STRETCH! This is the key to becoming more flexible. There are some basic rules you’ll want to follow when stretching to avoid injury:
-    Always warm up before you stretch. NEVER stretch a cold muscle. 
-    Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds
-    You can stretch every day but aim for at least 3-5 times a week. 
-    Only stretch as far as you can. You shouldn’t feel pain when you stretch. 

Overall, physical fitness is an essential part of what it takes to be healthy. There are so many benefits to being active and physically fit (see article above if you want further proof- lol).  

When thinking about becoming more physically fit, it sometimes can seem like a challenge too hard to take on. This quote applies well to this way of thinking: 

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
— Nelson Mandela

Stop making excuses and start being healthy!

That wraps it up for our [FITNESS IS HEALTHY] post. Hope you found it insightful and start implementing physical fitness into your life today. Remember, be healthy!

If you have any questions about the topic of fitness, please feel free to ask me via email at team@ftfwarrior.com

I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

Also, if you were reading this today and thought to yourself, "I want to pursue better health and become physically fit" but you are unsure where to start, look no further. Here at FTF Warrior, we craft custom fitness and nutrition plans to help coach you back to health. Join team #nomoreexcuses. Go to  https://www.ftfwarrior.com/the-fearless-diabetic-project/ and sign up for one of our programs today!

KEEP UP THE FIGHT.