Why do We Need Fitness?
At the most basic level, we all want to be able to draw effortlessly on our energy to work and play hard. Maybe we want to spring into a sprint to catch a bus with ease, run after our nieces and nephews, climb trees with our own children, run after grandchildren. It's being able to take on everyday tasks and engage in spontaneous activities without huffing and puffing, carrying the occasional heavy loads when required without spraining muscles that matter to most of us.
What is Fitness?
There are 9 Elements of Fitness.
Raw physical strength and power is in the genes but anyone can train to become as strong as they can be if they live and eat healthily.
Strength is the consistent, slow exertion of force over a period a time.
Everyday example: rowing a boat for recreational purposes, carrying toddlers while waiting in line at airport customs where strollers are not allowed, pushing a car to kickstart it, carrying multiple skis across snowfields.
Power = Strength + Speed
Training for power is a much more balanced approach to physical fitness even if you do not play any sports. Not only will your muscles get stronger, but they will be better co-ordinated for quick, precise motions.
Everyday examples: all sports require power and if you don't play any sports, lifting heavy objects, say, a big screen TVs from its box and moving it to its designated location in the house, lifting bed mattresses, long ladders, carrying your 18 kg dog from the car into the vet clinic.
This is the ability to change the direction of the body in an efficient and effective manner and to achieve this requires a combination of:
- balance (static and dynamic - these will be discussed later in this article)
- speed - the ability to move all or part of the body quickly
- strength (as discussed above)
- co-ordination - the ability to control the movement of the body in co-operation with the body's sensory functions
Everyday examples: running away from danger, protecting young children from everyday dangers that they are prone to.
4. Static and Dynamic Balance
Static balance is simply a condition of not falling over when the body is not linearly or angularly moving.
Dynamic balance is the quality of control possessed by a person who has the ability to move and change directions.
Everyday examples: balancing on one leg when tying shoelaces, standing in a moving bus or train, not falling over when pushed in a crowded space.
The absolute range of movement of a joint or series of joints and length in muscles that cross the joints to induce a bending movement or motion.
Better flexibility may improve performance in physical activities and decrease risk of injuries by helping joints move through their full range of motion and enabling muscles to work more efficiently.
Everyday examples: picking up a relatively heavy object from the back passenger seat while sitting in the driver's seat, fewer muscle pains as muscles are not strained when performing everyday tasks.
6. Local Muscle Endurance
This is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to repeatedly exert force against resistance.
Training for general muscular endurance will increase your stamina.
Everyday examples: gardening, raking leaves and washing your car will become less fatiguing if you have general muscular endurance.
It has also been observed by the American College of Sports Medicine that increasing muscular endurance will also limit injuries sustained from physical exertion and from the overuse of active muscles throughout the day.
7. Cardiovascular Endurance
This refers to the heart's ability to deliver blood to working muscles and their ability to utilise it.
By elevating your heart rate with exercise, you strengthen your heart, improve blood flow, burn fat and improve your body's ability to deliver oxygen and energy to working muscles.
Everyday examples: sprinting to a meeting, running after a train, bus or chasing after kids.
8. Strength Endurance
This is the ability of muscles to perform a maximum contracture to maintain the exertion of force for a long period of time.
General strength endurance is built around the utilisation of large muscle groups to power an activity such as rowing where quads, gastrocnemius, biceps, triceps, deltoids and the lats are predominately used.
Everyday examples: stronger muscle strength makes most physical activities which require stamina easier such as running, cycling, rowing and hiking.
Body co-ordination describes the smooth, efficient movement patterns that are parts of sport skills and tasks.
Developing smooth movements is important for completing everyday tasks. For athletes, it means the difference between winning or losing.
Everyday example: throwing and catching a ball, jumping over puddles.
What does fitness mean for you?
You will note that most of the "fitness" elements are not really crucial in everyday activities as we have become a culture of couch potatoes and most of us do not need to walk long distances to work or work in physical labour anymore. Our lives are becoming more comfortable because we rely on technology to get us through otherwise physically demanding tasks.
Our preference for activities and jobs which require mental acuity rather than physical exertion has resulted in weaker bodies and more stressful minds. Internet and mobile technology inadvertently extends our working hours because we are getting used to emails and SMSs coming in day and night, and we feel compelled to reply because people expect us to.
In this environment, the only way we get physical fitness is through purposeful training. Physical exercise is not only essential for a healthy body, it is also the most effective anti-depressant and the easiest.
Even if you have no intention of training to compete in sports, functional fitness incorporating the 9 Elements of Fitness are essential if you want to live and work efficiently, share your happiness and joy with your loved ones. It will give you greater muscle mass that can increase post workout metabolic rate which in turn promotes efficient weight loss (note: any fat loss regime needs the right combination of training, proper nutrition relevant to one's age and lifestyle plus mindfulness/relaxation practice).
At Yoga XTC, our goal is to provide comprehensive, professional service in health, fitness and nutrition that guides you to get the fitness you require, the energy that you need to pursue your career, passion or indeed anything in life. Because when you have a healthy body and mind, what you can achieve is potentially limitless.