YOU ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THE NUMEROUS health benefits of physical activity. But what does it mean to be physically fit? Here is one definition:
Physical fitness is one’s ability to execute daily activities with optimal performance, endurance, and strength to manage the disease, fatigue, and stress and reduce sedentary behavior.
I need to have my pianos serviced (including tuning) to play optimally. Think of your body in this way. If we want to look and feel our best, you and I need to optimize our physical fitness.
Good heart, lung, and muscle performance is essential. What we do with our physical being, in turn, influences our minds.
My four fitness pillars
Just as I have my four pillars of health (movement; nutrition; rest; mindfulness), recognizing my tendency to categorize things, I also have four pillars of physical fitness:
- Aerobic fitness
- Muscle fitness
- Stability and balance
Fitness pillars: Aerobic and strength training
Let’s look briefly at each of these elements. We begin with the aerobic fitness pillar. I try to make sure that I get a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes of exercise. Do you need to run a marathon or do high-intensity interval training to meet the objective? No, even a brisk walk will do.
My patients often forget the importance of strength or resistance training. We need to do it to improve our muscle fitness. By doing so, we increase our lean muscle mass (which helps regulate our weight). I aim to get in two or three thirty-minute weight training sessions or work with resistance bands each week.
Fitness pillar: Flexibility
Next up is an oft-forgotten pillar of being physically fit: Flexibility. So many of us (myself included) work to move our joints and muscles to their full range of motion. Be more flexible, and you will likely have better coordination and may reduce your risk of injury secondary to physical activity.
Here’s what you may want to try: Stretch when you work out or at least three times weekly. Try to do it after you are warmed up, say with a 20 to 30-minute brisk walk.
Fitness pillar: Stability and balance
Finally, we have stability and balance. Get better, and you will likely see improvements in your core muscle strength. By making the muscles in your abdomen, lower back, pelvis, and hips stronger, you may lessen low back pain, improve your posture, and reduce your probability of suffering from a traumatic fall.
MIT Medical gives us some tools to achieve these goals. First, choose appropriate activities for each pillar, one that you enjoy. If the exercise does not give you pleasure, you are not likely to continue.
Second, establish habits; try not to miss a training day for at least a month or so. Finally, increase the load (frequency, intensity, or duration of activity) over time.
Do you regularly stretch? Do you do balance work? It is easy to forget these essential elements of physical fitness. Thank you for joining me today.