A fit person can repeat movements for a long period without becoming fatigued.
It is not unusual for most of us to associate exercise with weight loss only. In so doing we sometimes wonder why a slim person works out at the gym. What we are really wondering is “why are they at the gym”? They really can’t be trying to lose weight, could they? Especially since they are already slim.
While it is true that exercise can make a person lose weight, the major benefits of exercise go beyond weight loss. A major benefit of exercise is physical fitness or weight loss. Weight loss however, can be achieved through various means, but it is only through regular exercise that one can gain physical fitness.
What is physical fitness?
Physical fitness has been defined as a set of attributes or characteristics that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity.
There are five components of health-related physical fitness. Each of the five components can be measured to see how fit a person is. It is important that a person scores well on each of these components.
Cardio-respiratory fitness: Cardio-respiratory fitness is the ability of the heart, blood vessels and respiratory system to supply nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and the ability of the muscles to utilize these for sustained exercise. A person who is fit can exercise for a relatively long time without getting tired.
Muscular strength: Muscular strength refers to the ability of the muscles to exert force or lift a heavy weight. It takes muscular strength to lift any type of weight, whether it’s external weight, (as in moving the furniture in your house, carrying a child or lifting a carton of water at the super market) or controlling your own body weight.
Muscular endurance: Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscles to exert repeated force. Muscular endurance is what enables a person to be able to perform certain movements repeatedly. A person will not be able to run for 15 minutes if the muscles involved in the movement don’t have the endurance to sustain the 15 minute run. A fit person can repeat movements for a long period without becoming fatigued.
Body composition: Body composition is the relative percentage of muscle, fat, bone, and other tissues that make up the body. Being overweight or obese simply means a person has a higher percentage of body fat than what is considered normal. And don’t be deceived by looks or sizes, because there are people who are “skinny fat” and there are people who are big but lean! A fit person has a relatively low (but not too low), percentage of body fatness.
Flexibility: Flexibility is the range of motion (ROM) available at a joint. Or simply put, flexibility is how much movement is allowed at a given joint. It is affected by muscle length, joint structure and other factors. As a person’s range of motion decreases movement become difficult. A fit person can move joints through a full range of motion.
There are various fitness tests that can be done to determine how you score on each of the components of physical fitness. Below is a relatively simple way to test your cardio-respiratory fitness.
Cardio-respiratory fitness test (You will need a timer for this test).
Map out a 1.6 km (1 mile) distance. Warm up for 5 minutes to bring your heart rate up. Start your timer and walk, run or jog the distance as fast as you can. Check you timer when you get to the finishing line. If you cover the distance in 12 minutes or less you have good cardio fitness. If you do it in 13-15 minutes you are okay but there is always room for improvement. If your time is more than 15 minutes you need to work on your fitness.
Note: You can also do the test on a treadmill follow the same protocol but raise the treadmill at 2% incline in other to get the same resistance of running on the ground.
Do you really want to know how fit you are? Go ahead and take the cardio test!
Esta Morenikeji is a fitness instructor and fitness blogger. Once upon a time she weighed 92kg, now weighing in at 67kg, she teaches people how to lose weight and keep fit in a fun way. She blogs about fitness and weight loss at www.zonefitness.com.ng and tweets from @estamorenikeji
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