Fitness

Article excerpt

Byline: Gary S Sy, MD

DO you want to feel less stressed? Less tired? More control of your weight and appearance? More healthy? Do you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and many other health problems? Believe it or not, there is one thing that can help you do all of this, and it doesnat come in a bottle. Itas regular physical activity.

No one can prescribe the perfect fitness plan for you. You have to figure it out based on what you enjoy doing and what you will continue to do. Consistency is the most important, the most basic, and the most often neglected part of peopleas efforts to become more fit. No matter which activities you choose to do, in order to get the most benefit you need to do them consistently.

Donat forget the important role that nutrition plays in your healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet and regular physical activity go hand in hand to help you maintain a healthy weight.

A good fitness plan has three parts: Aerobic fitness, muscle strengthening, and flexibility. Many physical activities stress two or all three of these aspects of fitness.

Aerobic fitness

Aerobic conditioning improves the function of your heart and lungs. Its purpose is to increase the amount of oxygen that is delivered to your muscles, which allows them to do more work.

Generally speaking, anything that raises your heart rate can be considered aerobic exercise include brisk walking, running, bicycling, swimming, and dancing.

You donat have to go out of your way to improve your aerobic fitness. Many activities that you do each day will help you become more fit if you do them regularly and long enough. The following ordinary activities count as aerobic activity:

* Sweeping or mopping the floors (perhaps to fast-paced music).

* Taking the stairs to your office instead of taking the elevator.

* Walking to a nearby place instead of driving there.

Muscle strengthening

Strengthening your muscles enables you to do more work and to work longer before you become exhausted. Strong muscles also help protect your joints.

Muscles become stronger through a three-step process:

1. Stress

2. Recovery (rest)

3. …