If you ask the average person for their definition of “physical fitness,” you’ll receive an answer that involves achieving or maintaining a healthy weight, eating right, and getting some exercise on a regular basis.
Based on this definition, there are many people who believe they have achieved good fitness, but they are not truly fit.
There are 5 areas of focus to look at when evaluating your personal fitness to determine if you really are as fit as you believe you are.
Area #1: Body Composition
Your BMI is just a number. People who focus on fitness after losing weight can find that they weigh more because of muscle building than they did when they felt overweight. Look at several different measurements, including a body fat analysis, to determine if you need to make changes to the composition of your body so you can achieve better fitness.
How to focus on this area right now: Look at what you’re currently eating and remove any unhealthy items that could be working against your fitness goals. Don’t go “cold turkey” on favorite items that may need to be removed. Use small changes over time to create large changes that can improve the composition of your body.
Area #2: Endurance
Ever run down the stairs because the doorbell rang and felt out of breath? That would be an example of poor cardiovascular and respiratory endurance. Being truly fit means having the ability to sustain an increased heart rate over an extended period. The exercise doesn’t need to be strenuous; you can walk around your neighborhood and get results. Choose an activity you love and then make time for it every day.
How to focus on this area right now: Add new increments every week. If you start walking 1 mile this week, then walk 1.25 miles next week. Then 1.5 miles the week after. Keep building up the time or length of whatever you have chosen to do.
Area #3: Muscular Health
Just because you can flex and look awesome in the mirror doesn’t mean that your muscles are particularly healthy. A healthy muscle can perform repetitive activities without experiencing fatigue. You can encourage this type of endurance by walking further every day, adding longer sets to your weight training habits, or adding a new exercise to your daily routine, such as swimming.
How to focus on this area right now: When running errands, park in a spot that is far away from your store. Then do a complete lap of the inside of that store before starting your shopping. When finished, carry your items back to your vehicle instead of using a cart.
Area #4: Strength
To build strength, it is necessary to add resistance to your exercise routine. Running on a treadmill, even one that elevates, is not a method of resistance. You can tone your body and improve the health of your cardiovascular system with that type of aerobic exercise, but you must exert force during your exercise with your muscles to build strength.
You don’t need to invest into a set of weights to take advantage of weight resistance. Your own body weight working against gravity can help to build strength.
How to focus on this area right now: If you’re watching TV, take time during the commercial breaks to do some push-ups, sit-ups, or pull-ups.
Area #5: Flexibility
The movement you have around your joints helps to protect your body from injuries. Make sure that you stretch before any type of exercise. You might also wish to pursue a program, such as Yoga, that encourages stretching.
How to focus on this area right now: Make time for stretching during your workouts. Give yourself at least 10 minutes to stretch after working out as well so that you can recover better. Remember to take time to stretch during periods of prolonged sitting too.