Sunday, February 12, 2012

Balanced fitness

One of the things people tend to do is those things they enjoy and are good at, while avoiding activities that are less enjoyable and may not be as easily assimilated.  As a runner I have a tendency to love endurance activities and stray from stretching and strength training.

When it comes to fitness there are three major components; strength, flexibility and endurance.

Walkers on a track in Taipei, Taiwan
Weight lifting, a form of resistance training, is one example of how we can develop strength.  As people grow older it becomes increasingly important to work on strengthening exercises in order to slow the muscles tendency to waste away. Sit ups and push ups are a couple of strengthening exercises that don't require any equipment.

Flexibility is developed through stretching activities.  Yoga and Tai Chi are great ways to stretch. In China and Taiwan it is great to witness groups of seniors that gather in the morning to do Tai Chi and other group exercises.  It is nice to have the support of a group to reinforce the discipline that is needed for an exercise program.

Running, walking, biking and swimming are some common exercises that build endurance.  Slow and steady is the key.  Like most good things, endurance isn't achieved overnight.

Bedrock to developing physical fitness is proper nutrition. As noted previously, it is great to witness the national "Let's Move" campaign that is encouraging exercise and nutrition.

What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to fitness?  Is there a group or perhaps one other individual you might commit to exercise? It may also help to have an personal exercise goal, such as completion of a marathon, swim across the English Channel or simply walk a few blocks around the neighborhood.

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