There are 11 Components of Physical Fitness. Do you know all of them? If so, do you incorporate them into your daily workout routine? Learn about the Components of Physical Fitness by clicking HERE.
The American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous physical activity). Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember, however you will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 -15 minutes per day.
Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories, such as climbing stairs or playing sports. Aerobic exercises benefit your heart, such as walking, jogging, swimming or biking. Strength and stretching exercises are best for overall stamina and flexibility.
The simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social and great exercise. A walking program is flexible and boasts high success rates because people can stick with it. It’s easy for walking to become a regular and satisfying part of life.
The following chart represents an estimate of caloric expenditure during specific physical activity. Listed are 4 different weight categories. Caloric expenditure is influenced by intensity, mode of exercise, one’s level of conditioning, metabolism, and body weight. Try to do at least three of these activities during your training week. This might help to keep you from getting bored with your weekly schedule and will help to make you a more well-rounded fitness enthuseist. You might even find a new mode of exercise to enjoy. My top two exercises are jump rope and fast-paced calisthenics. My new favorite that’s been around for years… the rowing machine.
The following tips are just a few ways to shed pounds within a few weeks. However, following these tips alone is not enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In addition to these tips, you must exercise regularly. Consistent healthy eating, decreased daily calorie intake, and daily exercise will certainly help you to lose body fat, decrease your overall body weight, and firm up your muscles. When exercising, be sure to incorporate all components of physical fitness into your workout. Not only will these components of physical fitness help you to lose weight, they will help you to get through your daily activities without being exhausted at the end of the day.
- Portion Control – Try eating 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day. This may help to keep your metabolism higher. Three large meals in a day can be higher in calories and can be more difficult for your body to burn these calories up.
- Do not starve yourself – Your body can actually hold on to fat and go into “starvation mode”.
- Eat food slowly – This can have the effect of making you feel satisfied sooner, helping to consume less food and fewer calories.
- Reduce your intake of refined sugar and refined flour products – Substitute these with whole grain and multi-grain products.
- Limit use of sauces, dressings, and creams – Always ask for it “on the side”.
- Do not go grocery shopping when hungry – People tend to buy junkie snacks and unhealthy foods when they are wanting to eat.
- Avoid eating fried foods – Instead of frying foods when cooking, try to bake, broil, or grill.
- Try to cook without adding butter, margarine, or oils – These can add a lot of unwanted calories.
- Always start the day with a healthy breakfast that includes complex carbohydrates and lean protein – Breakfast will boost your metabolism and keep your energy high and hunger low throughout the day.
- If trying to loose weight/body fat, try reducing your caloric intake by 500 kcal per day – 3,500 kcal equals one pound of fat. So if you cut out 500 kcal every day for 7 days, you can loose one pound in one week.
- Keeping a food diary can help to reduce your weight – Keeping track of calorie consumption has been proven to be effective in weight reduction and loss of body fat.
- Have a support group – Talk to close friends and family about your plans for losing weight. They will be there for you!
- Water is best – Avoid soft drinks and juice. These are high in calories and sugar. Your body is approximately 80% water. Drink up.
- Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories and interferes with proper physiological functions of the body. Drink alcohol in moderation or preferably cut it out until you reach your goal.
- A positive lifestyle change rather than a crash diet is most successful in losing weight. Exercise, healthy eating, and motivation will help you reach your goals.
I was recently training two of my male clients at a local country club. I love these two guys, very fun, hard-working, nice, and both overweight. I put them through extremely challenging workouts consisting of high-intensity circuit training burning at least 600 calories per hour session twice a week. For the past 2 years I’ve been teaching these clients about healthy eating habits and the proper way to lose weight. Each of them needs to lose at least 25 pounds to get down to a healthy weight.
As with many people, my clients enjoy good food and great wine. What’s wrong with that, right? They over indulge, just like most people in America. I’ve been teaching them that all the exercise they do is not going to help them lose weight if they are not cutting back on their consumption of food and drink (alcohol). Of course, their weight has not changed much over these past several months because they have not been consistent with their changes in calorie consumption. It’s been disappointing for them, and for me, when stepping on the scale. When your main goal is to lose weight, you must cut back on caloric intake and change your behavior with food and alcohol.
While training my clients at their country club, an old friend of theirs was working out too. I’ll call him Jay. When my clients saw Jay they barely recognized him. In the past 6 months, this gentleman lost 77 pounds! After hugging him and congratulating their old friend, my clients asked, “How’d you do it? How’d you lose all that weight?” Jay enthusiastically said, “I stopped eating crap and cut out alcohol.” AH-HA! Thank you very much old friend! I smiled and told him that I”ve been teaching these guys this approach to weight loss for 2 years and they still haven’t embraced it! I had just met Jay a minute before and I felt so proud and happy for him. What an accomplishment!
This weight loss story is a successful one due to behavior modification or changes made in Jay’s lifestyle choices. He changed his behavior of eating food and drinking alcohol. He stopped going to restaurants to eat so he could control what goes into his meals. He also completely cut out alcohol for 6 months. This may sound terrible to some of you, but if you are serious about making a change to your body and your health, this is a very important, yet difficult, step. Jay was consistent with his exercise program and consistent with the changes in his diet until he reached his weight loss goal.
Now that his goal has been reached, he goes out to restaurants once a week. He drinks alcohol, in moderation, once a week. He exercises regularly every week. These behavior modifications helped to change and save Jay’s life. Losing weight can be a continuous lifetime battle for some of you. It’s difficult to change your lifestyle and behaviors. However, consistency, persistence, patience, and motivation must be intertwined in your life to have a successful weight loss story like Jay’s.
I asked Jay how he feels with that 77 pounds gone. He said, “I feel great! I feel like a new man!” If you’re needing to lose weight, you have to change your behaviors with food, alcohol, and exercise. Less food, less alcohol, more exercise. Behavior modification and healthy life-long choices will certainly help you reach your goals and change your life just like Jay. Nice work, Jay!
I have many people ask me this question every week. What I tell them is that there is no “best” exercise. All exercise is good. You just have to find the “best” exercises that suit your needs, physical fitness level, and lifestyle. For me, the best exercise is jumping rope.
I’ve been jumping rope for 20 years now. I had gotten out of the Marine Corps and got a membership at my local Bally’s Total Fitness. My first day working out there I saw a gentleman in the aerobics studio jumping rope all by himself. I watched him in awe. The way he moved. Swift, steady, precise, and rhythmic. I had visions of watching the movies Rocky, Rocky II, and Rocky III from when I was a kid. Trying not to disturb this obviously “in-shape” man, I entered the aerobics studio, picked up a jump rope, and attempted to jump rope on the opposite side of the studio. I thought, “I’m a Marine, if he can do this so can I”. Ha! My attempts to find rhythm, steadiness, and precision were replaced with clumsiness, stumbling, and continued misses on the jump. I felt a little embarrassed, especially since we were the only two in the studio.
The expert rope jumper obviously watched me struggle and stopped to offer advice. He gave me these 3 following tips:
- Start slow and low – “Low” meaning you should not jump high when jumping over the rope. You should jump just high enough to get the rope under your feet. “Slow” meaning when you are first starting out with this endeavor go slow to get the rhythm, coordination, and reaction time when the rope is coming around.
- Keep your body tight – “Tight” meaning keep your arms and shoulders tight and let the rope turn from the wrists. Don’t waste energy moving your arms in big circles. The more movement you have, then the quicker you will burn yourself out.
- Start with the most basic foot work that you learned as a kid – Meaning just try skipping over the rope. Don’t try the fancy “Rocky” moves right away. You must get a feel for the rope and learn timing and coordination. Once those 2 things are accomplished, then move on to more advanced foot work and speed.
Those 3 tips were just the beginning for me as they are for everyone else that has learned that jumping rope is much more than just skipping and jumping for 30 to 60 seconds at a time. Over 20 years of training with the rope, I have developed skills that are very advanced. Not only has my reaction time, coordination, agility, and speed increased, but I’ve found that my muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance has drastically improved also. I can easily jump rope at a high intensity level for 30 minutes now. Jumping rope can get boring just like any other cardiovascular exercise, but once you know a good routine of tricks, foot work, and movement, you’ll find that it is not boring at all. Quite the opposite!
You will certainly see the following improvements when you add jumping rope into your daily exercise program along with practicing healthy eating habits:
- Improves overall body composition by decreasing body fat, increasing muscle mass, and increasing weight loss (health-related component of physical fitness)
- Increased cardiovascular endurance (health-related component of physical fitness)
- Increased muscular endurance (health-related component of physical fitness)
- Decreased blood pressure
- Increased agility (skill-related component of physical fitness)
- Increased coordination (skill-related component of physical fitness)
- Increased reaction time (skill-related component of physical fitness)
- Increased mental focus
- Increased speed (skill-related component of physical fitness)
So, my best exercise is jumping rope. It improves 7 of the 11 components of physical fitness. It is a total body workout. It is challenging. Most importantly, jumping rope is fun! Thank you to that expert rope jumper I met at Bally’s. If it wasn’t for him, I may have given up and never found my “best” exercise.
Aerobic exercise, also called cardiorespiratory or cardiovascular fitness, is a good measure of the heart’s ability to pump oxygenated blood throughout the muscles. Oxygenated blood carries the nutrients the body needs to function effectively. A healthy heart can pump great volumes of oxygenated blood with each beat and will have a high level of cardiovascular fitness.
Heart disease is directly associated with the cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular systems. One of the primary signs of heart and lung diseases include becoming winded with mild exertion. Individuals with heart or lung disease often become fatigued when performing day to day tasks that most of us take for granted. Aerobic exercise can help increase the body’s utilization of oxygenated blood pumping throughout the body, thus making our bodies stronger and more efficient performing everyday activities.
I’m often asked what are the most important tips I can give for aerobic conditioning. I find myself continuously telling clients and friends three very important factors that will help to improve one’s cardiovascular health. These factors include: know your target heart rate zone, know your intensity level, and be consistent.
1. Know your target heart rate zone.
Your target heart rate zone is the number of beats per minute (bpm) at which your heart should be beating during aerobic exercise in order to promote optimal fitness levels, improving cardiovascular conditioning, and reducing body fat percentages. For most healthy individuals, this range is 60-85% of the maximal heart rate.
Measuring your heart rate while exercising can be done through two methods. Wearing a heart rate monitor is the easiest and most accurate method of checking your heart rate. A heart rate monitor can be purchased at any sporting goods supplier and ranges from $40 to $200. The least expensive are very accurate and will only display your heart rate. The moderately and highly priced monitors offer a stop watch, warning sounds if your heart rate is too high or too low, standard clock, and many other features.
The second method for monitoring your heart rate is by checking your pulse on your radial artery. The radial pulse can be found on the under side of your wrist using your index and middle fingers held together. Once located, count the number of beats for 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. This will give you your beats per minute. To be more accurate, count the number of beats in 60 seconds. Both methods are acceptable for determining your heart rate.
2. Know your intensity level.
Once you have determined your beats per minute (within 5 minutes of aerobic exercise), you must ask yourself a few questions:
- At this intensity, am I in my target heart rate zone? If not, make adjustments accordingly:
- Above zone, decrease speed or rpms (or incline)
- Below zone, increase speed or rpms (or incline)
- How do I feel?
- Can I maintain this pace for at least 30 minutes?
- Can I push myself to the upper limits of my target heart rate zone?
- If so, how long will I hold that upper limit?
Be aware of how your body feels and how you are breathing. If you cannot hold a conversation with someone without catching your breath, you may be going at too fast of a pace. This is what we call the “talk test”.
Intensity levels can vary from person to person and by goals wanting to be reached. Please click here to view the 5 types of training zones which represent low to high intensity levels for cardio conditioning. These training zones will give you an idea of where you should be training for your individual goals.
3. Be consistent.
Consistency is the key when trying to lose weight and body fat. You must stay on your training program and maintain healthy eating habits until you reach your goal weight. Cardiovascular exercise should be done at least 3 days per week for minimal positive aerobic enhancement and reduction of body fat stores. For maximum results, intermediate and advanced trainees should be doing 5-6 days of cardiovascular conditioning per week, for a minimum of 20 minutes and not more than 60 minutes. Exercise modes include any activity (walking, jogging, inline skating, swimming, biking, etc.) that will get your heart rate up into your target heart rate zone.
Know your zone, know your intensity, and be consistent. I believe these 3 tips are most important in improving your aerobic capacity and will help you to lose unwanted weight. Keeping your heart strong is most important in building and maintaining a healthy body.