How many times have you admonished yourself for being “out of shape?” Whether or not we chose to exercise, athletes and exercise enthusiasts alike know that physical activity is crucial for the maintenance of current and long term health. Healthcare professionals, personal trainers, instructors, governmental heath agencies, the media, and others repeatedly emphasize the importance of 30 minutes of daily exercise. The terms exercise and physical activity are often used interchangeably, but there’s a difference between physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness. Physical activity can be defined as any movement that is carried out by the skeletal muscles that requires caloric energy expenditure. In other words, any activity that gets you from here to there, whether walking from the couch to the fridge or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise is planned, structured and intentional movement with the goal of challenging your competence and improving your level of fitness through sports, dance, running, yoga or any number of physically active pursuits.
One common misconception of fitness is ignoring flexibility and balance skills, both of which are key to overall fitness. We are not truly fit unless we consistently challenge ourselves to gain and maintain flexibility, endurance and strength. A great way to test your strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination is to sit down on the floor and see if you can stand up without using your arms or knees or grabbing onto to someone or something for assistance. If you can’t get up without help, you can build strength and improve coordination by balancing on one foot at a time, or practice lifting an arm or a leg while in a plank position. Just as a runner might train to complete a marathon or a ballet dancer would strive to master the ultimate challenge of thirty-two fouette turns, we can work towards walking a mile without becoming winded, or practice forward bends each day until we can easily touch our toes.
Physical fitness, which begins with regular exercise to improve aerobic fitness, muscular strength and flexibility, is measured by:
Cardiorespiratory fitness: This means that your body can supply the fuel and oxygen you need during continuous physical exertion. Aerobic exercise raises heartbeat, maximizes the amount of oxygen in the blood, and increases blood flow to the muscles, delivering oxygen and nutrients and carrying away carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Over time, regular aerobic exercise increases stamina and reduces fatigue, while improving immune function, managing weight and reducing disease risk. Cardiorespiratory endurance means the body’s energy systems, muscle fibers, and capillaries can sustain long periods of exercise, such as running a marathon, swimming a mile or cycling for 100 miles.
Muscular strength fitness: Muscle strength is the muscle’s capacity to exert force against resistance. To gain muscular strength and build muscle, focus on weight training. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart muscle as well, helping to pump blood efficiently and slowing resting heartrate.
Muscular endurance fitness: Along with muscle strength, muscular endurance means that a muscle or group of muscles can sustain repeated contractions against resistance for an extended time period, such as when running, swimming or cycling. Separate from cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance relates to the number of repetitions you can do without having to stop to rest, such as when doing squats, abdominal exercises or weight training.
Flexibility fitness: Commonly overlooked, a regular stretching routine should be incorporated into every fitness plan. Flexibility fitness is the ability to move the joints freely through a range of motions. Flexibility tends to decline with age, often due to a sedentary lifestyle. Regular stretching helps to prevent loss of mobility, makes it easier to perform everyday tasks, and may enhance aerobic training and muscular conditioning, as well as sports performance.
Body composition: Body composition is determined by the percentages of body fat, bone, water and muscle tissue. Lean mass includes the muscles and organs, while fat mass refers to the amount of fat tissue stored in the body. Because muscular tissue takes up less space than fat tissue, it is body composition together with weight that determine leanness. To change your body composition, you must reduce fat mass and increase lean muscle tissue.
Physical fitness requires cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance and muscular strength, as well as flexibility, balance, agility and coordination. No matter where you are on the fitness spectrum, daily physical activity, along with intentional exercise, assists the improvement of physical fitness. While any physical activity may contribute to overall health, regular exercise is necessary to dramatically improve daily life. Sedentary people who incrementally increase daily activity can begin to enhance health and reduce disease risk. Newly active people should work towards increasing frequency, duration, intensity and variety of activity. Being physically fit puts you in state of wellbeing with lowered risk of disease, gives you the energy to fully participate in sports or other physical activities, and provides a better outlook for a longer, healthier lifespan.
Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements to support your fitness goals, muscle mass and endurance:
Muscle Cramp/Tension Formula by Pure Encapsulations®: This formula provides important electrolytes and soothing botanicals to help relieve occasional nighttime leg muscle cramps, minor muscle cramps associated with athletic activity and overall muscle tension. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
Klean Endurance by Klean Athlete®: These pure, all-natural D-ribose chewable tablets are clinically proven to help restore and replenish energy, and reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. Gluten, wheat, corn, soy, dairy, and yeast free, vegetarian formulation.
CLA 3000 mg by Olympian Labs: Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) helps to maximize fitness efforts, reduce body fat, and increase lean muscle mass, supporting improved body composition.
L-Carnitine by Pure Encapsulations: This formula provides l-carnitine-l-tartrate, a highly stabilized form of amino acid L-carnitine in support of cardiovascular health and exercise recovery. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
Pure Power Protein Banana by Dr. Mercola®: This exclusive all natural whey protein powder with chia seeds provides probiotics and unique superfoods for the competitive athlete or anyone seeking to optimize nutrient absorption and lean muscle gain. No preservatives, added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Also available in Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla flavors.
Classic Protein Chocolate by Sunwarrior: This raw, plant-based, whole grain brown rice protein formula is designed for fitness and health enthusiasts in support of lean muscle mass, reduced fat, and increased athletic performance. Hypoallergenic, soy and dairy free, Non-GMO vegan formulation. Also available in Natural and Vanilla flavors.
7 Common Exercise Errors. https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165393.html
What is the Difference Between Physical Fitness, Exercise, and Physical Activity? http://articles.extension.org/pages/24799/what-is-the-difference-between-physical-fitness-exercise-and-physical-activity
What aerobic exercise does for your health. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/aerobic-exercise/art-20045541?pg=2
What is Muscular Endurance? https://www.verywell.com/what-is-muscular-endurance-3120360
The importance and purpose of flexibility. http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/the-importance-and-purpose-of-flexibility