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Exercise and Fitness – The Secret To A Healthier and Longer Life

Increasing Popularity of Fitness and Exercise

Fitness and exercise are gaining popularity among the general public for many reasons. Reactions against sedentary lifestyles Americans have led for decades, people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes trying to improve their health condition, parents encouraging youngsters to get up and away from the television and work out, and the baby boomers pursuing fitness and exercise programs as they age to allow them to enjoy their golden years.

Ways, in which Americans engage in fitness and exercise activities are varied and show the diversity of both the population and their interests. Many people go to gyms or athletic clubs. Others participate in sports events that they enjoy. Fitness and exercise activities can include bowling, racquet sports like squash, golf, summer softball leagues, horseshoes, hiking, horseback riding, and many other activities.

One of the most popular fitness activities is simply walking. Many people of all ages enjoy taking a brisk walk every day. This simple activity can be done by almost anyone. Generally Americans are not as organized as their European cousins when it comes to walking. In Germany, one of the most popular weekend fitness activities is the volksmarch, or people’s march. A volksmarch is basically a more structured type of hiking, in which participants walk along a predetermined route which is usually ten kilometers or about 6.2 miles.

When a volksmarch occurs, people of all ages gather together to take a day long, or half a day long walk through a town or a country location, stopping to share a meal along the way. They combine physical exercise with social activity, and everyone has a great time.

Americans may not be ready for the volksmarch yet, but they can find many other exercise options to their liking. The important thing is to get involved in a physical activity that you enjoy.

A Healthy Body

A healthy body is what most people strive for. We are inundated constantly with images of slender, toned people. Fitness isn’t all about the weight that the scale says or the dress or trouser size you wear. Fitness is about how healthy you are.

Exercise is vital in the quest for body fitness. Many people join a gym for the convenience of having all the equipment they need to work out. There are machines there to strengthen and tone every muscle in your body. With the help of personal trainers, the process can be almost effortless. In that case, the exerciser is given a prescribed routine of exercise that will help him or her achieve the fitness level and desired body weight.

Exercise is not restricted to the confines of a gym. Any type of activity can be structured into a regular exercise routine to work towards your own personal fitness goals. For a person who lives in an apartment building, the decision of whether to take the stairs or the elevator might seem inconsequential, but those steps up to his or her floor everyday equal a leg workout. Choosing to hike it up the flight of steps gives not only the legs a chance to stretch, but it also gives the heart a chance to beat faster. By doing this every day, the body would begin to respond in a positive way.

The same can be said for walking as opposed to driving. Even when a destination is within walking distance, people are still inclined to get in their car and drive there and back. Lacing up a pair of walking shoes and heading out the door on foot is also considered exercise and the benefits aren’t only restricted to the gasoline that will be saved. If that walk is taken several times a week, perhaps even daily, the fitness level of that person increases.

It is also important to exercise on a regular basis to keep your body fit and health all year round. Especially, winter seems to be a time when many people neglect physical activity. This is too bad because that makes it all that much harder to get back into shape when spring comes around. Regular physical activity is something that should be pursued all year long. During the winter months, sports that keep a person indoors, like bowling, are good choices.

Regular Exercise Is the Key to A Fit Body

No one can argue that exercise is an important factor in not only losing weight but also having a healthy body. Regular exercise ensures that a person will suffer from fewer ailments, feel stronger, and in many cases live longer.

Exercise isn’t all about running a mile, or doing one-hundred sit-ups to obtain a toned and trimmed stomach. It’s also about overall fitness. Conditioning the body as a whole including the muscles and most importantly the heart muscle is a key piece in the healthy body puzzle.

Regular aerobic exercise is fundamental in keeping our hearts working exactly the way nature intended. This could include jogging, running, walking, cycling, or even swimming. Keeping the heart rate elevated for a prescribed amount of time is vital in building up the muscles of the heart. Doing this daily or even several times per week is an important first step in the journey to overall fitness.

Many younger people find fitness as a great fringe benefit beside enjoyment when they participate in their favorite activity. For example, snowboarding and skateboarding have become extremely popular and the fitness benefits are substantial. Many muscles of the body are worked while the participants are not only having fun but also working out at the same time.

For those less adventurous people, a walk is a perfect alternative. Even a daily walk around the local park with the family dog will be a good workout for your body. It’s working out your thighs, your buttocks and of course your heart. Many physically fit people depend on walking as their core daily exercise activity. It’s not unusual for many people to find such enjoyment in getting out into the fresh air to stretch their legs, that the walks become longer and longer until they realize that it’s turned from a short stint to a few mile hike.

Swimming is one activity that almost everyone enjoys. It’s a great way to get fit for people of all ages. For adults, swimming can be an important factor in their overall fitness. The water can be soothing for those who suffer from knee or joint pains. For older folks, it affords them the chance to stretch and strengthen their bodies without the stress of some of the more strenuous physical activities.

Starting A Fitness and Exercise Program

Fitness and exercise activities can extend life and can make a person’s life are more productive, more pleasant, and more enjoyable.

The first step in setting up a fitness and exercise program is to decide what type of exercise you enjoy. If you engage in activities you like, it eventually tends to become a lifestyle. Do you enjoy swimming, hiking, walking, running, racquetball, tennis, golf, or any other sport? Are you the type of person who enjoys lifting weights, or using the Stairmaster machine at the local gym? Everyone has different tastes when it comes to exercise. Deciding on the activity that is right for you should be the first step in setting up a fitness and exercise program.

Next, make sure that you adopt a gradual approach when you start out. Many people rush into working out and overdo it the first day, leading to sore muscles and aching backs. When that happens, they are much less likely to continue their program. Moderation is important when starting a fitness and exercise program.

Also, if you are extremely out of shape when you begin your workout, you need to start out at a slower pace than you would if you were somewhat in shape. If possible, get advice from your doctor or physical fitness instructor before beginning your program, and find out what is right for you.

For many people 10 to 15 minutes of brisk walking every other day is enough to get started. The important thing with a fitness and exercise program is to stay with it. Naturally, the more you exercise the better in shape you will be. If you begin working out now, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your fitness level, your stamina and the way you feel in just a few months.

Components of A Fitness and Exercise Program

A well-balanced fitness and exercise program should have four parts: aerobic exercises, strength training, stretching and flexibility exercises, and balance exercises. All these exercises benefit your body in a different way.

1. Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming and cycling is the main component of any fitness program. They provide cardiovascular conditioning with disease-fighting benefits. When done at moderate intensity, aerobic exercises are safe for almost every person.

2. Strength Training

Strength training, also called resistance training, includes workouts using elastic-bands, weight machines or free weights. Such exercises play an important role in protecting bones and building muscles. Strength training can slow weakening of bones due to aging and loss of calcium. Stronger muscles also help improve mobility and balance, and thus lower the risk of falling and injuring yourself.

3. Stretching and Flexibility Exercises

Muscles tend to lose their flexibility and weaken with age. Shorter, stiffer muscles make you more vulnerable to injuries and can cause back pain. By regularly stretching and doing flexibility exercises which help stretch the elastic fibers surrounding your muscles and tendons, you can counteract this process to a great extent and ease back pain.

4. Balance Exercises

Your balance tends to weaken over time with aging that can have undesirable consequences such temporary or permanent disability. Doing balance exercises such as single leg balance, tight-rope walk or foot taps are one of the best ways to improve your balance. Many stretching and strength-training exercises also improve your posture and balance. You can also incorporate other forms of exercise such as Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates into your balance-enhancing exercise routine.

Physical Activity Prevents Disease

It is a medically confirmed fact that regular exercise can lower the risk of getting heart disease, reduce the risk of developing hypertension and diabetes, lower the risk of getting some forms of cancer, keep your bones and joints strong, help you lose weight and maintain it, enhance your mood and mental functioning as well as reduce your dependence on others well into your later years.

Yet more Americans than ever are suffering from obesity and type two diabetes in the United States. If you are overweight, and especially if you are obese, or if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, then listen to your doctor and begin a regular fitness and exercise program. You’ll be glad you did.

Adding at least half an hour of moderately intense physical activity to your daily schedule can help you avoid a series of serious ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, several types of cancer and depression. Regular physical activity can also help you sleep better, reduce stress, lose weight, feel better, improve functioning of your mind, and better your sex life.

One of the benefits of exercise, as any physician will tell you, is that exercise helps control blood sugar. It can reduce your blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours or more after you finish your exercise routine by making your body more sensitive to insulin. A diabetic who takes medication daily may find that less medication is needed with a regular fitness and exercise program. Many diabetics who are on fitness and exercise programs find that they are able to quit the medication and get their diabetes under control in a totally natural way.

Triglycerides are also too high for most Americans. High triglycerides are linked to heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes. A great natural way to reduce your level of triglycerides is to simply begin and stick to a fitness and exercise program, while following a suitable diet. Triglycerides at too high a level are also linked to high blood sugar, and it is common for diabetics to have high triglyceride levels. Therefore, a well-prepared workout program can take care of two potential health risks at the same time.

Many people have marveled at the way being overweight has become an American way of life, and wondered what caused it. Many point to sedentary lifestyles, working in front of computers for hours, and watching too much television. In addition, many Americans eat diets high in fat and carbohydrates. Whatever the root causes are, regular physical activity can contribute to the cure of this health problem.

Engaging in physical activity, increasing the heart rate, and just getting active can help a person lose weight, control triglyceride levels and improve diabetes.

4 Reasons to Sweat It

If you wonder what benefits one can get from regular physical activity, then think about total body fitness that includes mental health, too. Exercising seems like a chore to most people. However, by following a fitness program you can enjoy a healthier, happier and a more productive life. Here are only a few of the health benefits you’ll gain by starting a fitness and exercise program.

1. Heart Performance

If the heart isn’t properly maintained through exercise, heart muscles will tend to become weak and sluggish. The heart pumps the needed oxygenated blood to the circulatory system. This aids the liver, spleen, and kidneys to clean the blood and prevent infection. Exercise for the heart will keep its arteries and veins clean, and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

2. Muscle Tone

Suppleness of the major and minor muscles in the body is improved when a proper fitness program is used daily. A good workout routine will help getting your muscles toned. By strengthening the legs and stomach, the back receives support to do the heavy lifting, bending and turning. Greater flexibility is also gained in all three areas.

3. Weight Loss

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to lose and maintain weight when combined with a reduction in the number of calories you eat. It can also increase lean body mass, which also increases the number of calories your body burns through physical activity. In other words, more lean body mass or muscle burns more calories than its equivalent in fat.

4. Mental Stimulation

The brain is mentally stimulated when you exercise. As the body is made up of chemical components, exercise stimulates the brain to release chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins trigger a natural emotional state of happiness and well-being. This effectively combats mental depression when combined with medication. In fact, sometimes a fitness program is all that is needed to fight depression.

Walking to Slimness

Do you feel like you need to lose a few pounds that you never want to gain again? If you don’t like a strenuous exercise regime, consider a fitness routine of walking. To melt away the extra pounds, you’ll need a few things such as a pair of comfortable walking shoes and socks with temperature-appropriate clothing and a fitness tracker. You also have to set a certain distance for walking.

  • Burn calories by walking slowly. Walking slowly causes your body to drag due to gravity and the dragging affect helps you lose weight.
  • After you lose the desired weight, move to a faster, high intensity walking schedule to maintain your current weight. You will soon notice that muscle mass in your body will start taking the place of the saggy skin through toning.
  • By walking regularly and drinking lots of water, your kidneys will flush out any bacteria and your heart will pump at a more efficient rate.
  • Circulation to the lower leg extremities and feet will also improve, whether you do a slow, calorie burn walk, or one that has a quick upbeat walk. This is an important benefit especially for those with any disease that affects the feet.

Fitness and Exercise for the Older Adult

Physical activity is not just for young people. Older adults can also reap a ton of benefits from becoming engaged in regular physical activity. In fact, a greater number of older adults are taking fitness and exercise seriously now than in recent decades.

The baby boom generation of Americans is different from preceding generations. Baby boomers tend to live longer, and are more concerned about health. More baby boomers watch their diets, try to control their weight and make physical activity a regular part of their lives than older Americans have in past generations.

Mall walking is a popular activity for older adults. Brisk walking is one of the best forms of exercise older people can do for themselves. Shopping malls offer consistent temperature and protection from the elements. If it is snowing or sleeting outside, you can still walk in the mall, getting all the benefits of physical activity without having to brave inclement weather.

Swimming is another popular physical activity many older adults enjoy. Swimming exercises every muscle in the body, but is easy on the knees and joints. While many older adults enjoy swimming laps, others have incorporated water-based calisthenics into their physical activity programs with great results.

Fitness and Exercise for Children

We all know that physical activity is important for fitness. But, how much attention do we pay to our children when it comes to physical activity? In our modern day, too many children spend majority of their time either in front of the television or computer or game console playing video games. Fitness and exercise, an integral part of the childhood of past generations, is something that today’s parents need to be aware of for their children’s well-being.

Parents should restrict time spent by children with video games or watching television and encourage them to engage in fitness and exercise activities. Children who experience the benefits of exercise at an early age will grow to be adults who tend to live a healthier, longer and happier life.

If your child is lacking in physical activity, think about enrolling your child in an after school sports program such as soccer, hockey, softball, baseball, lacrosse, football, tennis, and even golf. Many parents also find that their children enjoy swimming or water-related activities. This can be simple playing or exercising in the water, or formal swimming laps in an Olympic size pool.

Those who live in rural areas may find doing physical activities to be easier than those who live in urban areas. In a rural area, a child has open fields to play in, woods to explore, and hobbies like fishing. For the rural lifestyle, fitness and exercise is more ingrained. For children living in the city, fitness opportunities can be explored at the nature center, at the Y-club, and after school activities.

Final Words

Fitness and exercise are very popular in today’s world. However, how much attention we pay to fitness is a question we need to ask ourselves. For most people, job, money and home are all they are concerned with. However, we have to keep in mind that fitness and exercise activities can lead to a longer and healthier life, and provide a great deal of enjoyment along the way.

Of course, physical activity is not the only factor to be concerned with. Diet also plays an important part. A high fiber diet, with most carbohydrates coming from whole grains and protein from more lean portions of meat to limit fat also contribute to health. When proper diet and exercise are combined, the result is a healthy person regardless of his or her age. Combining a suitable fitness and exercise program with proper nutrition is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

If you’ve got special health needs or concerns, talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Fitness is the goal and should not be complicating or making any preexisting conditions worse.

Remember that staying with a fitness and exercise program is probably the hardest part. It takes a lot of commitment but the rewards will be well worth it.

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