- Am I fit enough to walk out of here (10 - 20 miles or more) if I have to in order to survive?
- Could I carry a pack that far?
- Could I carry my child?
- Could I dig myself or others out of a mudslide?
- Am I strong enough to construct an emergency shelter, haul wood to a fire for heat and heft heavy kettles onto that fire?
- Can I lift sandbags?
If not, you need to begin a fitness program. The benefits are not only that you will be prepared for emergencies, but include enhanced health in mind, body and soul. There is also a financial benefit in that health care costs will be reduced.
WHAT IS PHYSICAL FITNESS?
Definitions and performance standards of physical fitness vary. However, most experts agree that the five basic components aer:
- Cardio-respiratory or Aerobic Endurance: The ability to do moderately strenuous activity over a period of time. It reflects how well your heart and lungs work together to supply oxygen to your body during exertion and exercise. Also called aerobic fitness.
- Muscular Endurance: The ability to hold a particular position for a sustained period of time, or repeat a movement many times. This could be the capability to required to hold a two pound weight above your head for five minutes or the effort to lift that weight 20 consecutive times. Muscular endurance is required to maintain balance.
- Muscular Strength: The ability to exert maximum force, such as lifting the heaviest weight you can budge, one time. It is possible to have muscular strength in one area (i.e. arms) while lacking strength in another area (i.e. legs.)
- Flexibility: The ability to move a joint through its full range of motion; the elasticity of the muscle. This is how limber or supple you are.
- Body Composition: Relates to the proportion of fat in your body compared to your bone and muscle. It does not refer to your weight in pounds or your figure.
Sleep is a major component of fitness. When we don't enough sleep, it makes us more vulnerable to illness, accidents, irritability, conflict, and depression. We have less energy and even think less clearly when we constantly get less sleep than we need. Making up for this by sleeping in or napping over the weekend only partially solves the problem.
Try setting up a trade system with yourself to get the sleep you need. Make a list of everything you do from the time you leave work until you go to bed and turn out the light. Make the same list for morning--from the time you wake until you close the car door to go to work. Do this for two weeks. By then, you know what you are doing and can shift some of that time to sleep time. The first week, eliminate one or two activities from your night list. Trade them for time at night by moving them until tomorrow or the weekend or eliminating them. By excluding one or two activities, you may gain 15 to 30 minutes more sleep.
STARTING AN EXERCISE PROGRAM FOR HEALTH AND FITNESS
The time to begin exercising is now. However, you should always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. As long as your doctor agrees, you are never too old to start an exercise program. The fitness program should include weight training and aerobic exercise.
- Work muscles with weights for a total body workout at least twice a week. This should be combined with 40 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least 4 times per week.
- Cardiovascular exercise should include five minutes each of warm up and cool down plus thirty minutes of exercise at your correct aerobic heart rate. After three months, you should see a difference in the way your clothes fit. You should feel it in our motivation, energy level and metabolism.
- Dense muscle fiber burns calories which will help you lose weight in the long run. In the short run, however, muscle weighs more than fat so you may gain weight at first, therefore, only weight once a month. Rather, use the way your clothes fit plus your mirror as indicators of how many inches you are losing.
WALKING IS A LIFETIME EXERCISE
Walking is a good exercise for people of any age, fitness level, body build, energy level, etc. In about two weeks of regular walks, blood pressure begins to drop. With another week or two, unless you increase fat intake, cholesterol counts are lower. With each month of walking, your heart and lungs become stronger and more efficient. Your resting pulse rate decreases, too, a sign of better health. Even your bones will become stronger. If you keep walking and don't change your diet, you will lose a pound or two per month. Reduce your calorie intake slightly and lose even more. This is because you burn calories when you walk. The faster you walk, the more calories you burn in a set time period. Your metabolism stays slightly higher for a few hours after you exercise, burning even more calories; and your lean muscle mass increases and burns even more calories. You have a good chance of maintaining weight loss if you continue your walks. 90% of people who walked regularly kept off lost weight, while only 34% of non-walkers maintained their weight loss.
Walking offers the following benefits:
- Cardiovascular benefits
- Disease Prevention (heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and hypertension)
- Psychological benefits (reduced depression, anxiety and tension
- Increased energy
- Toned muscles
- Youthful appearance and energy levels
A good walking program includes setting goals, making a commitment to follow the program and measurable results. Researchers found walking with hand-held weights especially beneficial.
When walking, one should begin slowly, pick up the pace gradually until there is a feeling of exertion during the walk and result in a feeling of pleasant fatigue at the end. Walks should be at least 30 minutes, 4 to 5 times weekly at 60-80% of one's maximum heart rate. As always, check with your doctor before you start your walking routine.
SWIMMING AND WATER WORKOUTS BUILD FITNESS
Water is cool and relaxing, supports the body, adds natural resistance that helps tone and strengthens the muscles of the body, and will help heal any muscle strains.
- You do not need to be able to swim to benefit from water exercises. You don't need to have your face in the water. any sustained stroke (including dog paddle) for swimming back and forth across the shallow end of a pool will suffice for aerobic exercise.
- If you swim, however, vary your strokes to work different muscle groups and allow you to swim longer. If you can't swim 20-30 minutes straight, work up to this by swimming for five minutes, then resting for one minute.
- Equipment necessary to start swimming consists of a bathing suit and an available pool. Swim goggles, kick boards, hand paddles and flippers can come later (or never.)
- Parents can take older children swimming while working out as long as they can swim unsupervised, of course, because otherwise you will be distracted.
- Swimming is easy on the joints.
Check with your doctor first; warm up before each water work-out; stretch out after each swim. Use sunscreen if you are swimming outdoors; check out the pool and water depth before you begin, especially if you are a poor swimmer. Realize that your maximum heart rate is 13 beats per minute slower when swimming than with other exercising. Also look for a pool that is clean and safe, has a large shallow area, has hours that fit your lifestyle and is relatively uncrowded at the times you need to use it.
Compiled by Carol A. Pooley from cyberparent.com