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Getting Started on Lifetime Fitness


The benefits of regular exercise make up an impressive list. Exercise is one of the most effective strategies against multiple chronic health disorders. Despite evidence of the benefits, the majority of Americans are not meeting the recommended guidelines for physical activity.


The Components of Fitness


Improving fitness involves learning about and employing concepts relating to overload, the use-disuse principle, and aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Exercise frequency, intensity, and duration can be increased to improve fitness. Fitness requires a reasonable weight for a person’s height and enough of each of the measurable components of fitness—flexibility, muscle strength, muscle endurance, and cardiovascular endurance—to meet life’s demands. For total fitness, an exercise program that incorporates strength training, stretching, and cardiovascular endurance activity is best. Cardiovascular endurance helps maintain a healthy heart and circulatory system and exercises that promote cardiovascular endurance are the best for making short-term fitness gains and long-term health improvements. Strength training also helps with weight loss by increasing lean muscle mass and thus increasing a person’s basal metabolic rate.


Energy for Exercise


Your energy-producing pathways require the muscle fuels: glucose and fatty acids. Your muscles, and to some extent your liver, supply carbohydrate to your muscles from their carbohydrate supply. The fatty acids come mostly from fat inside the muscles but partly from fat that is released from the body’s fat stores, and the blood delivers these fatty acids to the muscles.


Fuels for Exercise


A diet rich in complex carbohydrate and low in fat not only provides the best balance of nutrients for health but also supports physical activity best. Training can increase the amount of glycogen a muscle can conserve during exercise. Likewise, exercise training improves the body’s ability to deliver fat to working muscles, and trained muscles have an increased ability to use the fat for energy when oxygen is present—sparing the valuable glycogen.


Protein Needs for Fitness


The body of an athlete may use slightly more protein, especially during the initial stages of training. Finally, how well your muscles metabolize fuels for energy depends on your supply of vitamins and minerals.


Knowledge of what fuels muscles use may lead the athletic competitor to consume a diet especially high in complex carbohydrates just before an event. The best choices for the meal before a competitive event are foods that are high in carbohydrate and low in fat, protein, and fiber.


Fluid Needs and Exercise


Sufficient fluid intake is critical to the prevention of heat stroke and to the health and performance of anyone who exercises. Replenishing fluid lost during exercise is easily accomplished by drinking fluid before, during, and after exercise.


Vitamins and Minerals for Exercise


B vitamins to facilitate energy release and antioxidants to curtail the oxidation resulting from increased oxygen use during exercise are both important vitamin classes for athletes. Iron, which is needed to deliver oxygen to working muscles, is an especially important mineral for athletes.


Athletes and Supplements—Help or Hype?


Myths abound concerning fitness and nutrition. However, the scientific evidence to support most of the claims that special ergogenic aids will make an athlete run farther or jump higher is lacking. With common sense and an awareness of fitness components and concepts, people can learn to exercise safely and enjoy its many benefits.


The Institute of Medicine recommends that we spend a total of at least 60 minutes most days of the week engaged in any one of numerous forms of physical activities.

B.    New guidelines stress the value of moderate activity and suggest that the total amount of activity is more important than the manner in which it is carried out. 

C.    For total fitness, an exercise program that incorporates aerobic activity, strength training, and stretching is best. 

D.    The more active you are, the more fit you are likely to be.

E.    Keep in mind that fitness builds slowly, and so activity should increase gradually.

F.     View your exercise time as a lifelong commitment.

G.    It is recommended that you have a medical examination and diagnostic exercise stress test before you start a vigorous exercise program; however, beginning a moderate exercise program (walking) would not require the physician’s exam. 

H.   With a basic understanding of the concept of total fitness and a personal commitment to a physically active lifestyle, anyone can become fit.


A.   Physical Conditioning

1.     Physical conditioning refers to a planned program of exercise directed towards improving the function of a particular body system.

a.     Placing regular physical demand on the body and forcing the body to do more than it usually does will cause it to adapt and function more efficiently; this is called overload.

b.     Muscles respond to the overload of exercise by gaining strength and ability to endure.

c.     This principle applies to all aspects of fitness: flexibility, muscle strength, muscle endurance, and cardiovascular endurance. 

d.    You can apply overload in several ways: increase frequency, increase intensity, or increase duration.

e.     You can pick one or a combination, depending on your fitness goals.

2.     Strength gains may not be visible in all cases.

a.     Muscles increase in strength and size - hypertrophy.

b.     Muscles, if not called on to perform, decrease in size - atrophy.

B.    Strength

1.     Strength is the ability of the muscles to work against resistance.

2.     The purpose of strength training is to build well-toned muscles that let you accomplish daily activities at work and during recreation as well as to prevent injury.

a.     As muscles get stronger, individual fibers thicken and enlarge.

b.     Our ability to respond to strength training continues to a very old age.

c.     Strength training also helps with weight loss by increasing lean muscle and thus increasing a person’s resting metabolic rate.

3.     Today, we must put forth a conscious effort to develop strength.

4.     The kind of equipment you use is largely a matter of availability and personal preference, and no matter what method you choose, safety in strength training is essential.

C.    Flexibility

1.     Keeping your muscles and joints pliable is critical for developing a fit body.

a.     A flexible body can move as it was designed to move and will bend rather than tear or break in response to sudden stress.

b.     Flexibility tends to decrease as you age but improves in response to stretching, and it can be maintained in most people by doing frequent stretching exercises.

2.     Stretching exercises improve flexibility by increasing muscle and tendon elasticity and length.

a.     Stretching should be done slowly - when you feel a slight strain in the muscle, hold the position for 20-30 seconds.

b.     Bouncy, rapid stretches can cause minute tears in the muscle and also set up a reaction in the muscle that makes it resist the stretch.

3.     After your light warm-up, stretch the muscles that you will be using in your main exercise activity.

a.     Waiting to stretch until after your warm-up allows blood to move into the muscles, making them easier to stretch.

4.     Doing stretches after your exercise session gives your heart a chance to gradually slow its pace.

a.     It also allows you to lengthen those muscles that have become tight and tense from the exercise.

b.     You can make greater gains in flexibility by stretching after your workout because muscles are warm and easier to stretch.

D.     Muscle Endurance

1.     Muscle endurance - the power of a muscle to keep on going for long periods; third component of fitness.

2.     Your muscle endurance influences your performance; for example, it dictates your ability to pedal during the last 10 miles of a 100-mile bike tour.

E.    Cardiovascular Endurance

1.     Another realm in which endurance is important is the length of time that you can keep going with an elevated heart rate - how long your heart can endure a given demand, cardiovascular endurance.

2.     Your heart is a muscle, and it, like your other muscles, can respond to repeated demands by becoming larger and stronger.

a.     Exercises that promote cardiovascular endurance are the best for making short-term fitness gains and long-term health improvements as well as for weight control.

b.     The best exercises to develop cardiovascular endurance are those that repetitively use large muscle groups - arms and legs - and that last for a continuous 20 to 60 minutes.


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Aerobic activity. Exercise that can be performed for a long duration because the energy required can be provided by the burning of fuel, which normally occurs in the muscle cells in the presence of oxygen. Aerobic activity may help control body weight, reduce the percentage of body fat, improve the circulatory function and respiratory functions, and reduce blood pressure. Examples include aerobic dance, cycling, jogging, power walking, in-line, step aerobics, kickboxing, supper circuit.


Anaerobic activity. Exercise of short duration that is performed at a more strenuous level, so increased respiration and heart rate cannot provide sufficient oxygen to the muscle cells. Anaerobic activity is used to build muscle mass and to improve one’s ability to move quickly and to deliver force, Examples of anaerobic activity include sprinting, weight training, curl ñ ups, gymnastics, and some team activities, such as softball and football.


Base of support.  The area of the base or foundation that supports the body. The base of support may include one or more body parts and the distance between them. The ability to stabilize the body is directly proportional to the area of the base of support. For example, if the two feet are close together, the base of support is narrow and stability is limited. If the two feet are separated by some distance, the base of support is increased and provides more stability.


Base resistance principles. Resistance is the weight or force that is used to oppose a motion. Resistance training increases muscle strength by pitting the muscle against a weight, such as a dumbbell or barbell. The type of lift; intensity, volume and variety of training; progressive overload; rest; and recovery constitute the basic principles of resistance training.


Biomechanics. The study of human movement and how such movement is influenced by gravity, friction, and the laws of motion. It involves the analysis of force, including muscle force that may cause injuries. It explains why motor skills are performed in explicit ways in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness.


Body Composition. The proportion of fat-free mass (e.g., muscle, bone, vital organs, and tissues) to fat mass in the body.


Body management. Basic skills of focusing on the ability to control the body and body parts in actions such as those involving traveling, balancing, rolling, and supporting body weight.


Combative activities.  A group of physical activities that utilize basic combative pulling, pushing, defiances, stands, and guards. Some examples include wrestling, fencing, boxing, kickboxing, martial arts, and self-defense.


Components of health-related physical fitness. Muscle strength, muscle endurance, aerobic capacity, flexibility, and body composition.


Cool-down exercise. Additional five to ten minutes of light to moderate physical activity. Cool-down exercise help the body recover from exercise. This process maintains blood pressure, helps enhance venous return, and prevents blood from pooling in the muscles.


Core muscles. The abdominal, back, hip, and pelvic floor muscles.


Dehydration. Internal loss of water and important blood salts, such as potassium and sodium that are essential for vital organ functions.

Dual activities. Physical activities hat require two participants. Example include tennis s racquetball, and badminton.


Ergogenic aids. Substances, devices, or practices that enhance an individuals energy use, production, or recovery.


Even-beat locomotor skills. Examples include walking, running, hopping, and jumping.


Flexibility. The ability to move joints of the body through a normal range of motion.


F.I.T.T. principles/concepts. The frequency, intensity, time, and type of physical activities are interdependent principles for gaining and maintaining physical fitness.


Frequency. A principle of training that establishes how often to exercise.


Fundamental movement skills. An organized series of basic movements that involve the combination of movement patterns of two or more body segments. They may be categorized as stability, locomotor, or manipulative movements.


Group dynamics. The interactions and interrelationships of people in a group.


Health Optimal. Well-being that contributes to the quality of life. It is more than freedom from diseases and illness. Optimal health includes high-level mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical wellness within the limits of ones heredity and personal abilities.


Health-related physical fitness. Consists of those components of physical fitness that have a relationship to good health: body composition, aerobic capacity, flexibility, muscle endurance, and muscle strength.


Hyperextension. Greater-than-normal stretching or straightening of an extended limb.


Hyper flexion. Bending a joint beyond its normal range of motion.


Indicators of increased capacity. Responses of the body due to changes in the intensity of, durations of, frequency of, or time spent participating in physical activity. Indicators may consist of changes in muscle fatigue, breathing, and heart rate.


Individual activity. Physical activities that require only one participant. Examples include weight training, yoga, archery, and jogging.


Individuality. A principle of training that takes into account the particular needs and abilities of the individual for whom it is designed.


Intensity. A principle of training that establishes how hard to exercise.


Large-muscle groups. Muscles that work together and have a large mass relative to other muscle groups in the body. Examples of large-muscle groups are the muscles in the arm, back, and legs.


Locomotor movements. The basic patterns used to travel (walking, running, leaping, hopping, jumping galloping, sliding, and skipping).


Long-handled implement. a piece of equip-meant used in performing motor skills. The long handle positions the hand some distance away from the surface of the implement that comes in the contact with the ball. Some examples include hockey stick, bat, tennis racquet, and lacrosse stick.


Manipulative movements. Movements in which skills are developed while using an implement. Examples include throwing, catching, punching, kicking, trapping, rolling, dribbling, sticking, and volleying.


Moderate physical activity. Moderate-intensity physical activity generally requires sustained rhythmic

movements and refers to a level of effort a healthy individual might expend while, for example, walking

briskly, dancing, swimming, or bicycling on level terrain. A person should feel some exertion but should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably during the activity.


Modified/lead-up game. Active games that involve the use of two or more of the sport skills, rules, or procedures used in playing the official sport.


Movement concepts. The idea used to modify or enrich the range and effectiveness of the skills employed. They involve learning how, where, and with what the body moves.


Movement patterns. An organized series of related movements.


Muscle endurance. The ability to contract the muscles many times without tiring or the ability to hold one contraction for an extended period.


Muscle strength. The ability of a muscle to exert force. Strength is measured as the amount of force a muscle can produce.


Non-locomotor movements. Movements that is organized around the axis of the body, including bending and stretching, pushing and pulling, raising and lowering, twisting and turning, shaking, bouncing, circling, and swinging.


Overload. A principle of training that establishes a minimum threshold and requires one to exceed that threshold to benefit from the chosen physical activity.


Perceived exertion index. A way of rating hoe hard one feels the body is working during physical activity; it is based on physical sensations experienced, including increased heart rate, increased sweating, and muscle fatigue.


Physical activity. Bodily movement that is produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle and that substantially increases energy expenditure, including exercise, sport, dance, and other movement forms.


Physical fitness. A positive state of wellbeing with a low risk of premature health problems and with the energy to participate in a variety of physical activities. It is influenced by regular, vigorous physical activity, genetic makeup, and nutritional adequacy.


Plyometric exercise. A muscular activity that involves an eccentric contraction (i.e., muscle is lengthened) of a muscle, followed immediately by a concentric contraction (muscle is shortened) of  the same muscle. Plyometric exercises are often used to increase power.


Principle of Overload. The principle of exercise that state states that placing a greater-than-normal physical demand on the body will require the body to adapt to the greater load by increasing the body’s efficiency and strength.

Principles of training/principles of exercise. Principles to follow in planning an exercise program to affect physiological changes in the human body related to health and performance: frequency, individuality, intensity, mode/type, overload, progression, regularity, specificity, and time.


Progression. A principle of training that establishes increases in the amount and intensity of physical activity needed to provide improvements over periods of time.


Proprioception. The ability to sense the position, location, and orientation of the body.


Rebound principles. Newton’s third law: an object, when struck, will rebound in the opposite direction with the same amount of force with witch it was hit.


Recovery rate. The time necessary for an exercise-induced elevated heart rate to return to a normal resting heart rate.


Regularity. A principle of training that establishes exercise on a regular schedule. A pattern of physical activity is regular if activities are performed most days of the week, preferably daily; if moderate-intensity activities are performed five or more days of the week; or if vigorous-intensity activities are performed three or more days of the week.


Resistance principle. The use of an implement, a device, or the body weight as resistance can enhance some physical characteristic, such as strength or muscular endurance.


Rhythmic skills. Skills that develop an understanding of, and a feeling for the elements of rhythm. Examples of physical activities that allow students to express themselves rhythmically include creative movement, folk dance, square dance, and interpretive dance.


Short-handled implement. A piece of equipment used in performing motor skills, the short handle positions the hand close to the surface of the implement that comes in contact with the ball. Some examples include a racquetball racket, a paddle used in paddle games, and a modified lacrosse stick.


Specificity. A principle of training that establishes a particular kind of activity for each component of physical fitness.


Stability movements. Stability reflects balance and equilibrium, which are important components in performing many motor skills. Stability movements include those that are vital for the body to maintain balance while moving. examples include moving the arms while walking or running and lowering one’s center of gravity when stopping quickly.


Strategies.  Decisions made by individuals or a team about the overall play of the game.


Striking pattern. A fundamental motor skill in which an object is hit, with or without an implement.


Target heart-rate zone. A safe range of physically intensity that can be used to enhance the level of aerobic capacity.


Time. A particular of training that establishes the amount of time for each exercise period.


Travel. Movement of the body from one location point to another.


Type. A principal of training that establishes specific activity to use or muscle to target during an exercise period.


Uneven-beat locomotor skill. Examples include galloping, sliding, skipping, and leaping.


Vigorous physical activity. Vigorous-intensity physical activity generally requires sustained, rhythmic movements and refers to a level of effort a healthy individual might expend while, for example, jogging, participating in high-impact aerobic dancing, swimming continuous laps, or bicycling uphill. vigorous- intensity physical activity may be intense enough to result in a significant increase in heart and respiration rate.


Warm up exercises. Low intensity exercises that prepare the muscular/skeletal system and heart and lungs (cardio respiratory system) for high-intensity physical activity.


Weight-bearing activities. Any activity in which one’s feet and legs carry their own weight. examples include walking, running, tennis, and aerobic dancing. 


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