Your fitness routine needs to include five elements in order to be balanced: aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, stretching, core exercise and balance training. If you are just getting started with a fitness routine or if you have been following a routine but want to improve your results, all 5 of these elements need to be included so that you can optimize your results.
Aerobic (“requiring the presence of air”) exercise is at the core of most fitness routines. The primary benefit of aerobics is that you can maximize the amount oxygen in your bloodstream. This occurs because you breathe faster and more deeply than during normal daily activities. Aerobic exercise will help to improve the efficiency at which your heart, lungs, and blood vessels transport oxygen throughout your body. Ultimately, this allows you to complete routine physical tasks more easily.
During aerobic activity, your heart rate is increased as your large muscle groups are utilized. A reasonable and simple goal is to be aerobically active for 30 consecutive minutes 6 days each week. Activities might include walking and/or jogging, riding a bicycle, swimming, dancing, water aerobics, raking leaves, shoveling snow, and vacuuming the house.
Most of us visualize muscular fitness when we think of a fitness training program. If you’re also trying to lose and/or maintain your weight, strength training at least twice each week will help you to maintain muscle mass.
If you belong to a gym, you already have access to resistance machines, free weights, and other tools to help with your muscular fitness. When I was working out at home, I purchased some inexpensive dumb bells (less than $50) and structured my routine around push-ups, ab crunches, squats, and dumb bells.
One of the most important elements of a fitness routine (especially as we get older) is stretching. Proper stretching will allow you to maintain and/or improve the range of motion of your joints, as well as contribute to better posture and a healthier spine. It might even help to relieve stress (think yoga).
You’ll want to stretch not only before you begin your fitness routine, but also after you finish while your muscles are warm.
Your core (muscles in your abdomen, lower back, and pelvis) work together to protect your back while facilitating upper and lower body movements. Consequently, core strength should be one of the key elements of your fitness program.
Abdominal crunches and fitness balls are two of the most popular techniques for developing and maintaining core stability.
Your ability to maintain your balance deteriorates with age. For example, as we get older, many of us are less inclined to climb ladders. One exercise that many people incorporate into their fitness routines is to simply balance on one leg for awhile, then the other. As with most forms of exercise, you will find yourself able to stand on each leg for increasing amounts of time. This little exercise may very well help you to avoid falls and bone fractures.
You can design your own fitness routine or you can get help from a professional. In either case, you should make aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, stretching, core exercise and balance training part of your overall exercise plan. You don’t need to include each of these elements in every workout, but you will improve the quality of your results by including all 5 elements in routines throughout each week.