Fitness – A Call to Life Through Movement and Strength
For those of you who read “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask, Explained By Dr. David Reuben in 1969, you were one of over 100 million readers worldwide! No – everything you’ve wanted to know about fitness doesn’t have that circle of readership.
Its real title is Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2008). This is a 76 page US government manual that gives physicians, fitness professionals and citizens looking to find resources for a level of fitness matching their age and condition valuable research-based assistance. You can download this manual by going to https://health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf. It is as comprehensive a document as you’ll find to support your needs and desires for a healthy level of fitness.
This Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans was the first-ever publication of national guidelines for physical activity. These scientifically based guidelines support the physical-activity objectives for Healthy People 2020, a government initiative launched in 2010 to improve the health and well-being of all Americans. The initiative aims to reduce the proportion of adults who engage in no leisure-time physical activity, and increase the proportion of adolescents and adults who meet current federal physical-activity guidelines for aerobic physical activity (at least moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes/week, or 75 minutes/week of vigorous intensity, or an equivalent combination) and for muscle-strengthening activities. The main idea behind these guidelines is that regular physical activity over months and years can produce long-term health benefits.
When I read much of this manual, whew… more information than I wanted to know! I read it because in thinking about fitness over my years, I considered me to be fit…. Until something happened, such signing up for a hike that was a bit too difficult and my body and mind said… are you kidding???????
Baseline to Health-Enhancing
I get it about what is called “baseline activities”, or activities of daily life, such as standing, walking slowly, and lifting lightweight objects. People are said to vary in how much baseline activity they participate in. They may do very short episodes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity, such as climbing a few flights of stairs. What I didn’t know was that IF you only do this level of activity, the government considers you to be inactive for the purposes of health, or this level is too low to be receiving health-related benefits.
One is placed in the “health-enhancing” physical activity category when you are consistently active over and above baseline. For example, brisk walking, jumping rope, dancing, lifting weights, climbing on playground equipment at recess, and doing yoga are all examples of physical activity. Some people (such as postal carriers or carpenters on construction sites) may get enough physical activity on the job to be considered in this category. The guidelines are only for activities that are said to be health-enhancing and are not for individuals seeking performance-levels of fitness.
What does research say?
Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes.
Some physical activity is better than none.
For most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration.
Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity.
Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial. • Health benefits occur for children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, older adults, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group.
The health benefits of physical activity also occur for people with disabilities.
The benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of adverse outcomes.
Aerobic and Muscle-Strengthening
The two main types of physical activities are Aerobic and Muscle-Strengthening.
Aerobic physical activity has three components:
Intensity, or how hard a person works to do the activity. The intensities most often examined are moderate intensity (equivalent in effort to brisk walking) and vigorous intensity (equivalent in effort to running or jogging);
Frequency, or how often a person does aerobic activity; and
Duration, or how long a person does an activity in any one session.
Muscle-strengthening activity also has three components:
Intensity, or how much weight or force is used relative to how much a person is able to lift;
Frequency, or how often a person does muscle strengthening activity; and
Repetitions, or how many times a person lifts a weight (analogous to duration for aerobic activity).
This I found interesting:
The Beneficial Effects of Increasing Physical Activity: It’s About Overload, Progression, and Specificity.
Overload is the physical stress placed on the body when physical activity is greater in amount or intensity than usual. The body’s structures and functions respond and adapt to these stresses. For example, aerobic physical activity places a stress on the cardiorespiratory system and muscles, requiring the lungs to move more air and the heart to pump more blood and deliver it to the working muscles. This process increases the efficiency and capacity of the lungs, heart, circulatory system, and exercising muscles. Muscle strengthening and bone-strengthening activities overload muscles and bones, making them stronger.
Progression is closely tied to overload. Once a person reaches a certain fitness level, he or she progresses to higher levels of physical activity by continued overload and adaptation. Small, progressive changes in overload help the body adapt to the additional stresses while minimizing the risk of injury.
Specificity means that the benefits of physical activity are specific to the body systems that are doing the work. For example, aerobic physical activity largely benefits the body’s cardiovascular system.
Here is my take on physical fitness. I am choosing to be fit because the activities I enjoy are mostly outside; gardening, hiking, climbing, walking, shopping… wait.. that’s a baseline activity!
Some of my friends need to be fit to counter chronic health issues such as diabetes.
What is your call to movement and strength? I’d love to hear your stories.
Carol! VP Life Transformation Partners