How Fit Are You?
Nearly three out of four Americans identify themselves as fit. The facts, however, suggest that just about one in eight of them truly are. Being fit depends on more than just your body fat count or how long it takes to run a mile. Fitness is a comprehensive measure of your body’s ability to do work under any situation and addresses four separate areas of health.
The first area of fitness is your body’s flexibility. Not many people think of flexibility as a characteristic of being in shape, but the degree to which your muscles can extend can be as valuable as the amount of weight that they can move. Flexibility is the easiest area of fitness to improve upon, since stretching for as little as five minutes per day can be enough to get your range of motion higher and higher. Your largest muscles, your thighs and calves, will have the greatest flexibility, but working out your neck, chest, and back muscles also improves range of motion. A fit person should be able to roll their head about their neck, touch their toes while standing(keeping their back straight and knees locked), and bend to one side at nearly 90 degrees(ish).
Cardiovascular performance is the area of fitness that addresses how well your heart can pump blood. This can be measured by both your resting and your active heartbeat. In the case of a resting heartbeat, you want to lower the number as much as possible (though it is unhealthy to lower it past about 50 beats per minute). Your active heartbeat can be as high as 200 beats per minute. Your max HR should be lower than this formula:
Max Heart Rate = 220 – Age
If your HR gets up this estimation seek medical attention and stop exercising immediately for a more thorough measurement. Measure an active heartbeat by engaging in high-intensity exercise, like biking,swimming or running, and push yourself as hard as you feel comfortable. There are many exercise machines that can measure your heart as you work out. You can find treadmills from Nordicktrack.com that features many different measurements of physical fitness, including heart rate and calorie burning. If you are fit, you should be able to double or even triple your heart rate comfortably during exercise without feeling dizzy or exhausted.
The image of fitness is closely tied into giant muscles and washboard abs. Muscle mass is designed for more than lifting heavy objects, however, and a key element of fitness is how well your muscles work over time. This is muscular endurance, the length it takes until exhaustion rather than the sheer force you can move. Very few people, even those who work out, address endurance, because it takes longer and does not give aesthetically pleasing results. Yet anyone who has physical demands on them all day, from their work or their family, benefits from improving muscular endurance. Improve your fitness with conditioning exercises like yoga that challenge you to hold the weight of your own body up as long as possible.
The raw strength required to move weights is the final component of physical fitness. Your body requires muscular strength to lift weights, whether they are dumbbells or couch cushions, and your strength is improved by slowly building up your muscles over time. Weight lifting is the best way to boost your burst strength but the amount you lift needs to be increased in small increments. Doing more than 10 repetitions of weight per set diminishes yields. Attempt to increase a 5-rep weight set by about 10% each week. A physically fit person should be able to lift their own body weight off the ground and up over their head one time, though this requires working out multiple muscle groups. If you start a weight-lifting plan, begin with small quantities and give your body rest days to recuperate.
About the Author:
Joyce G. is a professional health blogger and writer. She currently partners with Nordictrack.com in raising awareness about the importance of health and fitness. NordicTrack has come to symbolize the means for serious athletes and fitness-buffs alike to “get ready for adventure,” whatever that may be. You can check the treadmills from Nordicktrack.com and know the difference.