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Finding fitness
15 Jan 2022
Finding fitness image

Jim Rohn said,” Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

Yes, that’s right! You might be living in the most comfortable apartment, but your body is your soul’s home at the most fundamental level. So, before you think of revamping your bedroom, take a step back and look at your body. What does your body need? Keep reading on and I will walk you through the path of finding fitness and building a healthy home for your soul!

What is fitness?

In simple words, your body is said to be fit if it gives you its best performance in every task that you do, and also shows strength and endurance during unfavorable times.

Components of Fitness

Rather than me listing out reasons why you should start your fitness journey and how you will benefit from it, it will be more effective if I educate you on how the body works and reacts to fitness measures so that you can conclude on the importance of it. So, here are the different components of fitness:

1. Cardiorespiratory performance

It indicates the body’s efficiency in supplying fuel via the circulatory and respiratory systems, during physical activity.

Train Activities that cause an elevated heart rate for a sustained period help to improve your cardiorespiratory performance.

E.g.- exercising, swimming, jogging, etc.

At the biological level

When you train for cardiorespiratory performance:

  • Heart muscle becomes stronger and can pump more blood per heartbeat
  • Additional small arteries grow within muscle tissue, enabling effective blood delivery to working muscles
  • Overall size of heart increases
  • Lung size does not change, but it uses oxygen more effectively

Good cardiorespiratory performance helps in preventing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.

2. Muscular Strength

It is a measure of the amount of force you can put out or the amount of weight you can lift.

To train: Anything that works a muscle until it is tired will increase muscle strength over time.

E.g.- lifting weights, working with resistance bands, push-ups, etc.

At the biological level:

  • Muscles are made of elongated muscle cells and hence each muscle cell contains contractile proteins called actin and myosin
  • Therefore the total force depends on the number of these fibers contracting in unison
  • In untrained muscles, fibers tend to contract in an asynchronous manner. Hence when you train them, they learn to contract together, thereby increasing maximum power output.
  • Moreover training also increases actin and myosin production.

3. Muscular Endurance

It is a measure of the ability of a muscle to continue exerting force without tiring or the number of repetitions of a single exercise you can do without tiring.

To train: Muscular endurance activities involve a repeated motion over a long period.

E.g.-swimming, running, cycling, planks, etc.  

At the biological level:

  • Endurance training focuses more on the cardiovascular system, ensuring that the muscles receive the oxygenated blood they need to keep functioning.
  • There are two types of muscle tissue: fast twitch and slow twitch
  • Fast twitch fibers use a lot of energy because they contracts quickly but also gets tired very quickly
  • Slow twitch fibers are best for endurance work and carry out tasks without getting tired
  • Endurance training enhances these slow twitch fibers

4. Body Composition

It measures the relative amount of muscle, bone, water, and fat an individual has. Two people with the same weight may have different ratios of each of these components.

A healthy body composition would look something like this for males and females:

Body composition is flexible, and an ideal ratio can be attained 

through proper diet and exercise.

A healthy body composition increases your lifespan by reducing the risk 

of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, insulin resistance, etc. It increases energy levels and improves self-esteem.

5. Flexibility

It refers to the range of movement across a joint. It is important as it improves the ability to link movements together smoothly and prevent injuries.

To train Activities that stretch the joints, ligaments, and tendons to increase flexibility.

3 types of stretching are done to increase flexibility:

  • Dynamic stretching- complete a full range of motion in a particular joint
  • Static-active stretching- holding the body or a part of the body in a stretched position and maintaining that position for a period of time
  • Ballistic stretching- involves stretching in various positions and bouncing 

What other things should you take care of?

1. Nutrition

Like our physics teachers repeatedly made us say, “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be transferred from one form to another”.

This applies to every single work-producing machine. So, fitness is not just about exhausting your muscles with workouts. It is equally important to ensure that you meet your body’s energy requirements for the same.

Switching to a healthy diet doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. As long as you incorporate necessary proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, fats, and fibers in your diet, feel free to eat as you please. But if you have any medical condition, make sure to consult with a doctor or nutritionist and find out how different foods affect your condition.

How can we eat healthily?

Here are a few general tips to keep in mind to eat healthily:

  • The first simple but impactful thing you can try and do is to replace processed food with real food whenever possible. 
  • Do not eliminate certain categories of food from your diet. The way to go is to select the healthiest options from each category.
  • Cook more meals at home. This helps you take charge of what you are eating and better monitor exactly what goes into your food
  • Read the labels. It might seem like quite a task but be aware of what you are eating.
  • Pay attention to how you feel after eating since healthier food makes you feel better after a meal. Unhealthy foods are likely to make you feel uncomfortable, nauseous or drained of energy.
  • Take your time and eat slowly. Your body actually takes a few minutes to process that you’re full.
  • Control emotional eating. Do not turn to food to bust your stress or boredom. Learn healthier ways to manage emotions and you can regain control over your food and feelings.
  • Include more healthy fats such as Omega-3s in your food.
  • Drink plenty of water. Water flushes out waste products and toxins from your system. This also reduces chances of you mistaking thirst for hunger.

The below-given food pyramid will give you an idea of how to eat a balanced diet.

2. Sleep

In today’s modern world, while trying to manage a busy, hectic life, it’s understandable to want to prioritize activities that provide the most benefit. 

But can you deny feeling more alert, more energetic, happier, and better able to function after a good night’s sleep? This explains why sleep might be necessary after all! 

Sleep has several links with your brain’s productivity, cognition, and mental health but here we will only discuss its correlation with physical activity and fitness. Better sleep lets you exercise better, and better exercise helps you sleep better. Now, this is convenient!

  • Sleep gives your body time to repair, recover, conserve energy, and build up the muscles worked during exercise.
  • Exercise has a chemical effect on the brain. Physical activities create more adenosine in the brain and adenosine is responsible for making us feel sleepy.

The bottom line is, if you are not getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep, you might want to rethink your schedule as being sleep deprived only harms your daily performance.

Fitness doesn’t end with just the body…

Fitness keeps you in good shape and allows you to be at your best but here’s the bonus, fitness makes you happy!

Here are more reasons why you should exercise:

It makes you happier.

Exercise increases brain sensitivity for depression relieving hormones like serotonin and norepinephrine. It also increases endorphin production that helps to produce positive feelings.

It helps skin health.

Regular exercise boosts your body’s production of natural antioxidants which help protect skin cells. Exercise stimulates blood flow and delays appearances of skin aging. 

Helps your brain health and memory. 

Exercise improves blood flow to the brain. It causes the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s vital for memory and learning, to grow. It also reduces changes in the brain that contributes to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Reduces pain. 

Physical activity raises pain tolerance and decreases pain perception.

Promotes a better sex life. 

Exercise helps improve sexual desire and performance in men and women. It also reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction in men.

You have reached the end of this blog and can no longer claim to be ignorant of the benefits of fitness! So, stop with the excuses. Consult a dietician to know more and start your fitness journey right now!

-Mariyam Sidhana

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