Assessing Your Fitness Level

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Your Personal Fitness Goals

A person’s fitness level depends on many individual aspects including overall health, lifestyle, muscle tissue, body type, and genetics. Everyone is different. For example, a long-distance runner may have exceptional cardiovascular health but may lack in flexibility and muscle tone. Do not gauge your fitness level against anyone else; you wouldn’t judge a weight lifter or body builder against a ballerina or yoga instructor, that wouldn’t make any sense. Instead, assess your fitness level based on you and your strengths.

Components of Fitness

  1. Body Composition
  2. Muscle Strength
  3. Muscle Endurance
  4. Aerobic Endurance (Cardiovascular)
  5. Flexibility

In order to optimize all of the components of fitness, you should develop a fitness plan based on your personal abilities and current fitness levels. Also, you need to consider any long-term goals (i.e. run a marathon, build muscle, lose weight). Your personalized fitness plan should be a progression to your long-term goals.

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Follow Simple Guidelines: Start exercising at a moderate level, five days a week, for a total of 3 hours per week. Mix cardiovascular exercises with weight lifting. You should lift weights two days a week, alternating upper body (arms) and lower body (legs).

Start Small: Walk at least 30 minutes every day. Walking is simple and helps build motivation to begin a more comprehensive fitness plan.

Compete Against Yourself: Never compare yourself to anyone else; only compare yourself from yesterday. Achieving your fitness goals should be a natural progression and comparing your results to others around you will only create discouragement and eventually you might give up on yourself. Don’t do it!

Heart Rate: Become knowledgeable of an appropriate resting heart rate as well as the average maximum heart for your age and body type. Avoid overexertion, as this will cause significant problems in achieving your goals (i.e. plateau your weight loss, injury, stop your exercise plans). The American Heart Association recommends the following heart rate zones.

Optimizing Your Fitness Goals

  1. Body Composition: In order to lose fat, start with cardiovascular exercises (i.e. running on a treadmill) and eating the appropriate of calories for your current weight (BMR). Also, add circuit training (i.e. Jillian Michael’s videos) to your exercise plan. To change body composition it is important to burn fat.
  2. Muscle Strength: Strength training (weight lifting) needs to occur at least two days per week for 20 minutes each session. Alternate lower body and upper body exercises. To build a well-toned body (not a body builder body) use lower weights with higher repetition.
  3. Muscle Endurance: If your job or hobby requires repetitive movements and endurance (i.e. sports, waiting tables, massage therapist), strength training is central to building endurance. Use lower weights with higher repetition. Perform circuit training five days a week.
  4. Aerobic Endurance: Cardiovascular exercise should be prominent in your exercise routine especially if you are training for a marathon or have to be on your feet for extended periods of time (i.e. nurse, waiting tables, runner). Muscle endurance and aerobic endurance work together. Start small and work up to the ability to run five miles in one cardio session.
  5. Flexibility: Performing all the exercises mentioned above will help you start to loosen your muscles. Yoga is a great form of exercise the greatly improves flexibility. Also, significant stretching before and after all exercise is extremely important to avoid injury but also improves flexibility.

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