Physical fitness is the state of being physiologically prepared for getting the most out of life. Becoming fit is an on-going process that requires hard work, and significantly improves mental and physical functions. A commitment to the strictures of a healthy lifestyle is the only way to promote consistent physical fitness throughout your life. The essential components of a healthy lifestyle include maintaining a calorie balance, good nutrition, exercise and flexibility training.
Though they may have gained themselves a bad reputation, calories are simply a unit of measure for the fuel that keeps your body and brain running. You don’t want too many — or too few either. Both scenarios can be disastrous for your weight and appearance and harm your ability to think clearly. A calorie balance is the measure of calories consumed against calories burned through exercise and everyday activities. If the inputs and outputs are around the same level, your body won’t be storing extra calories as fat or burning away your fat reserves in desperation.
Physical fitness is fundamentally about avoiding toxic inputs to your body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests getting less than 10 percent of your calories from saturated fat, the kind found in cheese, meat, butter, margarine and ice cream. Another potential trouble spot is trans fat, often called hydrogenated oil. An animal research study conducted in 2006 by Wake Forest University found that trans fat is an independent factor in weight loss. In the study, primates that were made to consume trans fats didn’t necessarily lose weight, even when their calorie counts went down. On the positive end, the CDC recommends a plant-based diet high in fruits and vegetables and high in whole grains.
A good stretching routine is the precursor to a safe exercise session. Gently extending each muscle for an extended period of time helps to prevent or alleviate soreness associated with strenuous exercise. Sufficient stretching also helps to prevent tears due to hyperextension during exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine lists four trouble spots where muscles tend to be extra tight: “the hamstrings, hip flexors, calves and chest muscles.”
Aerobic exercise, an essential component of any healthy lifestyle, rhythmically works large muscles across a period of time. The CDC recommends 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic exercise, like running and swimming, or 150 minutes per week of moderate activities, such as walking and riding a bike. Strength both burns excess fat and develops muscle that helps your body endure day-to-day wear and tear without injury. You should get in two sessions per week, focusing on all the major muscle groups in the body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, benefits of a healthy lifestyle include increased energy, enhanced mental clarity, improved day-to-day endurance, stronger bones, stronger muscles and a stronger heart. In addition, practicing healthy lifestyle habits lowers your risk for a myriad of disease, including type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. A healthy lifestyle effectively sets the stage for good physical fitness.