By Ed Shepherd CHC, CPT
There are five components to fitness, they include: body composition, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility. So, you can tell if someone is physically fit by determining how well they perform in each component. With The KickBox Club, you get to work on all five.
It’s the New Year, and just like last year, losing weight will be this year’s most popular New Year’s resolution. You may think being thin is your surest path to health.But have you thought about your body composition? Body composition is a measurement of a person’s fat mass and fat-free (lean) mass. Testing your body composition can be a great way to monitor and reach realistic health and fitness goals.
Losing Weight vs. Healthy Body Composition
You’ve probably heard it plenty of times: If you want to be healthy, lose weight! But when it comes to preventing heart disease and early death, it’s actually more important to be fit than skinny.Having a healthy body composition isn’t just about losing weight. Being fit is more important than how much you weigh when it comes to lowering your risk for cardiovascular disease and mortality.Fat vs.
When you lose weight by dieting, you’ll likely also lose muscle mass. But being thin doesn’t necessarily mean you have a low body fat percentage.Body composition measures the percentage of fat compared to fat-free mass (muscle, bone, and water) in your body.The key is to have a healthy ratio of fat to muscle. Skeletal muscle and bone density help you perform daily activities and prevent diseases like osteoporosis.Physical activity paired with a healthy diet can help you lose weight and achieve a body composition that’s healthy for you. Even moderate exercise—30 minutes most days of the week—can bring big health benefits.
A Benchmark For Health
Body composition is one of the best indicators of overall health. It can decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic disease, osteoporosis, and other diseases.A healthy body composition can also: Improve your ability to perform day-to-day activities, increase energy, and help maintain cognitive function and decrease stress.
We often think of cardio in the context of burning calories and losing weight and, while cardio is great for that goal, it also improves your cardio fitness.
You may not think much about it, but cardio fitness measures how well your body can perform a rhythmic, dynamic activity at a moderate to high intensity for extended periods of time. Your cardio fitness refers to how well your heart, lungs, and organs consume, transport and use oxygen throughout your workout.
How fit you are comes down to the relationship between your cardio system, respiratory system, and skeletal system. When all of these systems work together efficiently, you increase fitness, allowing your body to last for a longer period of time. The only way to teach these systems to work together is to practice working out consistently.
Why is this important? First, we all know the statistics about the obesity epidemic in the United States. We spend way too much time sitting and exercising is one way to combat that. Not only that, but cardio workouts can help you in other areas of your life. The more fit you are, the more you can handle things like keeping up with the kids, doing long days of yard work or other household projects.
Health benefits of cardiorespiratory fitness
Cardiorespiratory fitness has been found to help reduce the risk of conditions including:
- heart disease
- lung cancer
- type 2 diabetes
The word strength refers to a muscle’s ability to generate force against physical objects. In the fitness world, this typically refers to how much weight you can lift for different strength training exercises.
The American Council on Exercise has an excellent definition in their ACE Personal Trainer Manual:Everything we do each day, from getting out of bed to taking a shower and then driving to work requires a certain amount of strength. You may need more to do things like moving boxes or opening a heavy door. Less strength for simple things like brushing your hair or drinking a glass of water. Whatever you’re doing, however, requires strength and it’s one area of fitness that’s very easy to improve.
The best way to build muscle strength is to participate in a program of resistance training. Some people call it strength training or “weightlifting.” But you don’t have to lift weights to improve your muscles. In the case of kickboxing, hitting a heavy bag is resistance training, and you can do simple body weight exercises to build muscle and build strength.
When you improve muscular strength and muscular definition, you enjoy many different benefits, especially if you are trying to lose weight. And you don’t have to be a body builder to take advantage of them. Strength training provides benefits for exercisers of all levels.When you include strength training in your exercise program you build lean muscle mass and improve your metabolism. Having stronger muscles will also help you to move through your daily activities and burn more calories with greater ease. And muscles help to improve the way that your body looks.
Strength endurance training is an important step in an integrated training program. It involves using higher amounts of weight, lower repetitions, more sets, and little rest. This type of training is often done in supersets (one or more-stable exercise is followed immediately with another).
Simply defined strength endurance is the muscles ability to produce strength or resistance over an extended period of time. Strength resistance training allows the muscles to remain functionally active longer. If you want to enjoy many of your favorite physical activities for a longer period of time without fatigue then it’s best to incorporate some kind of strength endurance program into your exercise routine.
The benefits of strength and endurance training are that you increase your strength and for older individuals, you actually improve your functional ability. So while you’re doing strength training you’re also maintaining your muscle mass and that is important, particularly as we get older and we naturally start to lose some of that.
When you increase muscle mass, you change your body composition, creating a lower percentage of body fat. A lower body-fat percentage can translate to a reduced risk of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides and cholesterol and increased blood-sugar levels, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. The American Council on Exercise reports that people who engage in strength training are also better able to cope with the effects of osteoarthritis, which sometimes causes debilitating pain. Strength-training activities include lifting weights, kickboxing or doing crunches, pushups and lunges.
Flexibility, the ability of your body to move through its optimal range of motion, is thus an important component of our physical health. One of the primary ways that you can maintain your flexibility is through stretching.
Inactivity leads to tight muscles.
Most of us are sitting more and more, and moving less and less, which is not good. Your body was not designed to be still and the more time spent being inactive, the more health problems can arise. Another negative side effect of increased time spent sitting is tight muscles. Staying in the same position for hours upon end, day in and day out, can lead to shortened and tight hips, lower backs and more. One simple yet effective way to counteract the deleterious effects on our muscles from sitting is stretching.
Activity leads to tight muscles.
It may seem counterintuitive after discussing how inactivity can lead to tight muscles, but, yes, physical activity can also have the same harmful effects on your flexibility. This is especially true when you engage in the same type of exercise on a regular basis. Running, cycling, swimming – you name it; when you perform the same repetitive movements over and over, utilizing the same muscles in the same way, problems can arise. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to engage in numerous forms of exercise; changing the muscle recruitment patterns helps to naturally prevent flexibility issues from occurring. But, regardless of the type of exercise you engage in, muscles will become tighter and stretching will help maintain your flexibility.
Becoming inflexible is not inevitable.
It is indeed true that your chronological age is just a number. You have some control over the age-related physiological changes that happen as you age, especially those that correspond with the five components of fitness, including the loss of muscle mass (body composition), loss of muscular strength and loss of flexibility. Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass as you age, can be slowed when you engage in strength training and eat adequate amounts of protein. Maintaining your flexibility is one of the five components to maintain as you age, the key being to keep active while practicing a consistent stretching routine.
Tightness can lead to dysfunction.
Your body’s a very smart machine, yet it is only as strong as its weakest link. Your body is designed to function as a well-oiled kinetic chain, which simply means that movement in one part of your body sets off a chain of events that affects other parts of your body as well. When muscles are tight and unable to move in their range of motion, it can upset the natural movement patterns, resulting in discomfort and pain. It is therefore imperative that you maintain flexibility throughout your entire body to help keep your muscles performing well.The advantages of working on flexibility are:
- Unity of body, mind and spirit
- Elimination of stress and tension
- Muscular relaxation
- Body posture and symmetry
- Flexibility and lower back pain
- Relives muscular pain
- Injury prevention
Flexibility allows the individual to move elegantly, coordinated and relaxed. Many times the difference between mediocrity and excellence is flexibility, and why is so important in kickboxing.
What does physically fit mean overall?
In general, fitness means different things to different people. The important take home message is that embarking on any regular exercise will be of benefit to your health. The more exercise that is carried out, the healthier an individual will look and feel.