Fitness has become an important part of our lives as a society. One out of every three people in the United States is overweight or obese. Being overweight can affect your quality of life. In addition to the obvious weight gain related to being overweight, physical fitness can also be affected by aging, illness, injury and stress. There are many different ways to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle and work out program, from walking to yoga. The best thing you can do is consult with your doctor before starting any new fitness plan or workout regimen to ensure that you are healthy enough to start.

Fitness is a general condition of well-being and, of course, the ability to do daily tasks and various parts of recreational sports. Overall health is usually achieved through regular exercise, proper nutrition and adequate rest. Cardiovascular fitness has been shown to lower the risks for several kinds of heart diseases and strokes. Fitness is particularly important for preventing the development of some types of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and can help maintain cardiovascular health even after a person is older.

An important part of fitness is activity level. Activity level is an assessment of how much of each physical activity you are able to tolerate. It is an important part of determining the level of fitness because, although exercise can increase your heart rate to some degree, you cannot increase your tolerance to it at the same level as exercise will. For example, someone who can walk a mile at a brisk pace probably can do aerobics or some other kind of activity for a similar length of time without getting winded. Likewise, a person who can only stand and walk a few steps at a time may have difficulty following a rigorous aerobics routine.

Flexibility refers to a person’s ability to move without restriction in his daily life. This involves strength and endurance as well as the motor skills necessary to carry out ordinary physical tasks. If you think of your body as a spring system that can be given continual tension or stretching, you begin to understand the meaning behind this concept of functional fitness. A test of your level of flexibility could be done by sitting on the floor with your hands by your side.

Staying active can also mean being flexible. Although it seems that there is a limit to what you can do while you are sitting still, when you begin to move around you will notice that your limbs are not stiff and that they feel lighter. Because regular exercise keeps your bones strong and supple, this helps to prevent the onset of osteoporosis. The less muscle you have around your joints, the less likely you are to develop bone spurs, which cause the joints to become more easily damaged.

These are just some of the ways in which physical activity contributes to your overall fitness level. To reach your fitness goals, you need to determine which of these factors are most important to you. Remember that fitness does not have to be achieved by following a set of fixed, unbreakable routines. You may find it necessary to make changes in your daily routine or adapt an exercise regime that you have in mind but have never attempted. Whatever you choose, however, make sure that you always use the utmost in caution, as even minor modifications in your fitness routine can lead to major injuries.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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