When you speak of fitness, many people immediately think of bodybuilding and other extreme forms of physical fitness. However, physical fitness is actually a state of mental well being and, more importantly, the ability to do everyday activities like sitting up, going up and down the stairs, going swimming, and so on. Basically, physical fitness consists of the ability to do everyday activities without experiencing pain or limitation. One important thing to remember is that in order for us to achieve optimal fitness levels, we must be constantly motivated and continue to strive for our goals.
The basic definition of fitness pertains to the ability of an individual to maintain a normal and adequate level of physical activity for the overall good of his or her health. Basically, we want to maintain a balance between work (activity) and rest (activity recovery). Proper nutrition is considered an important component of a balanced fitness program. Proper nutrition includes eating a healthy diet, which provides energy to maintain our normal activity levels; consuming the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat; and getting regular exercise. (Note that the term “regular” is used here, even though it may vary from person to person depending on their individual needs and preferences).
Many studies have shown that the best way to reach a state of fitness and the best way to maintain it is through physical exercise and the use of some form of high intensity activity, preferably one that you enjoy. For example, if you love to jog, you can jog, ski, swim, participate in endurance events, climb a mountain, or ride a bicycle regularly and without getting bored. In fact, even activities that you might not initially consider as “fitness” are actually excellent sources of fun and enjoyment, thereby maintaining fitness goals. Aerobic exercise should include lots of walking, bicycling, jogging, running, dancing, and swimming. For those people who are more physically fit, resistance training is also highly recommended.
Resistance training is another physical activity that is considered to be good for fitness. Resistance training exercises are ones in which you use “bodyweight” or force against an external force (in this case, your body), usually an exertion such as pulling a string. The purpose of resistance training is to increase the strength of your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones, as well as to improve your overall cardiovascular conditioning. Many people who participate in strength training also incorporate specific stretching routines into their exercise plan. These stretching routines are designed to improve flexibility. In fact, it has been proven that stretching prevents the development of the muscles that form the skeleton.
As you can see, many aspects of physical fitness fall under the heading of “physical exercise.” Physical exercise should not be just something you do from time to stay in shape. A well-rounded program of moderate physical fitness should be a part of your lifestyle. This should include regular aerobic exercise, resistance training, stretching, and strength training, as well as adequate sleep.
Physical fitness should also include some form of endurance activity, such as running or cycling. Endurance activities work the muscle groups that comprise your cardio and respiratory systems, while building endurance (the ability to carry out the same actions repeatedly, without suffering damage) in your muscles and cardiovascular system. Cycling endurance tests can be extremely fun and rewarding, but also a great way to increase your fitness level. The best way to get started with cycling endurance training is to find a local cycle class in your area.