You now know that regular physical activity and exercise can help you avoid preventable diseases and add to both the quality and length of your life. If you are currently active, you are more aware of the benefits of regular physical activity and should be motivated to continue your efforts. If you are sedentary or sporadically active, you realize that you should not delay one day longer in making the behavioral changes necessary to improve your fitness level.
Identifying Your Fitness Goals
Before you initiate a fitness program, analyze your personal needs, limitations, physical activity likes and dislikes, and daily schedule. If you have inherited no major risks for fatal or debilitating diseases, your specific goal may be to achieve(or maintain) healthy levels of body fat, cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, or flexibility/mobility.
Once you become committed to regular physical activity and exercise, you will observe gradual changes and note progress toward your goals. Unfortunately, you can’t get fit for a couple of years while you’re young and expect the positive changes to last the rest of your life. You must become committed to fitness for the long haul-to establish a realistic schedule of diverse exercise activities that you can maintain and enjoy throughout your life.
Designing Your Fitness Program
Once you commit yourself to becoming physically active, you must decide what type of fitness program is best suited to your needs. Good fitness programs are designed to improve or maintain cardio respiratory fitness, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, and body composition. A comprehensive program could include a warm-up period of easy walking followed by stretching activities to improve flexibility, then selected strength development exercises, followed by performance of an aerobic activity for 20 minutes or more, and concluding with a cool-down period of gentle flexibility exercises.
The greatest proportion of your exercise time should be spent developing cardiovascular fitness, but you should not exclude the other components. Choose an aerobic activity you think you will like. Many people find cross training alternate-day participation in two or more aerobic activities(ie, jogging and swimming)-less monotonous and more enjoyable than long-term participation in only one aerobic activity. Cross training is also beneficial because it strengthen:, a variety of muscles, thus helping you avoid overuse injuries to muscles and joints.
Responding to the exercise boom, fitness equipment manufacturers have made it easy for you to participate in a variety of activities. Most colleges and universities now have recreation centers where students can use stair-climbing machines, stationary bicycles, treadmills, rowing machines, and ski-simulators.
What Do You Think?
You now have the ability to design your own fitness program. What two activities would you select for a cross-training program? Do the activities you selected exercise different major muscle groups?
Cross training Regular participation in two or more types of exercises (e.g., swimming and weight lifting)
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